Most people who quit smoking don’t do it on their own. They get a lot of help and support from friends, family and significant others.
In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, here is how you can help someone in your life quit smoking:
Understand that quitting is hard. Smoking cigarettes isn’t just a bad habit. It’s a serious and complicated addiction. That makes quitting smoking one of the biggest challenges any smoker will face. The more you know, the more you can help.
Ask questions. Everyone’s experience with smoking and quitting smoking is different. Don’t assume you know what it’s like for them, and don’t assume you know what they need to successfully quit. Ask!
Listen. Quitting smoking is about the other person — not you. So listen to what they have to say. If you ask a question, be quiet and give them time to answer. Resist the urge to insert your own comments.
Don’t lecture. Lectures, nagging and scolding won’t help a smoker quit. It might put you on their bad side, and they won’t want to come to you for help when they really need it.
Offer distractions. For most smokers, cigarettes became a regular part of daily life. So there are a lot of people, places and things that can trigger a craving because they remind them of smoking. Offer distractions to help them deal with cravings without a cigarette.
Be patient and positive. Supporting someone who is trying to quit smoking can be frustrating and exhausting. But you can’t compare it to the frustration and exhaustion the smoker might be facing. Stay upbeat and don’t give up on them. Your support is important!
Go easy on them if they slip. There’s a chance they will slip at some point and smoke. Don’t get angry. They’ll probably feel guilty enough, and a slip does not mean they failed. Focus on what they’ve accomplished. Remind them that a slip is just one bump in the road.
Celebrate successes, big and small. Recognize and celebrate their successes. Staying smoke-free for one day, one week or one year are all reasons to celebrate. So are setting a quit date, throwing away ashtrays and lighters and getting the tools needed to quit.
Help them de-stress. Quitting smoking can cause stress and many smokers have always dealt with stress by reaching for a cigarette. Help them break the cycle by finding healthier ways to decompress.
Be there for the long haul. The challenges of quitting smoking don’t stop when the smoker puts down their last cigarette. Cravings can pop up weeks or even months later. It’s not uncommon for ex-smokers to start smoking again within the first three months of quitting. Your ongoing support could be all they need to make their next attempt their last.