Not every person is addicted to smoking in the same way. The smoking pattern differs from person to person and so does level of addiction.
As well-wishers, people desirous of helping smokers quit, must first take steps to understand the smoking habit.
The entire phase of quitting smoking is very challenging and one needs to be supportive throughout the phase in order to help people quit smoking.
The smoker may be a spouse, child, relative, friend or someone else from the general public. His or her level of education, socio-economic status and awareness of consequences of smoking play a crucial role in deciding how another person can be of help and support.
Instead of advising, criticising or chiding someone for smoking, it is important to put oneself in the smoker’s shoes and understand the mental torment that is to be faced, to come out of nicotine addiction.
Give Up the Lecture Mode
This is a common mistake committed, especially by non-smokers, who think quitting smoking is not difficult at all.
Lecturing on hazardous consequences of smoking is not going to help, since in this informed age, people are familiar with these ill-effects.
Be sure to appreciate their decision to quit smoking. This will give enough impetus for them to start with confidence.
- Befriend them and lend a listening ear when they lament on nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- Do not hesitate to share with them knowledge on how to remain calm, cool and composed during the initial weeks or months.
- Help them understand that the actual fight is not against cigarettes, but against the addictive quality of nicotine.
What Helped You Quit Smoking May Not Help Someone Else
This is the problem with ex-smokers. They try to force those ways and means that helped them quit smoking, on others too.
In reality, what worked best for you may not work the best for your colleague or friend. The ideal method is to:
- Share your experiences with the smoker and set aside the facts about the quit-smoking technique that you adopted.
- Also share details on various therapeutic and non-therapeutic methods that are available. Both science and technology are helping in the development of sophisticated techniques to ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms and assuage the hardships of quit smoking phase.
- In accordance with the severity of addiction, the best or a combination of 2-3 good methods can be adopted.
Help Them Develop a Quit Plan
It is not wise to expect your child, parent or friend to stop smoking all at once. Even when stopping smoking cold turkey, it is better to plan it well and go through a preparatory phase.
To help a smoker quit begins with partaking responsibilities, right from this initial stage by:
- Getting to understand the smoker’s regular schedule and help in choosing a stress-free time period for putting the quit smoking plan into action.
- Ensuring the smoker is in very good spirits on the quit day and nothing very hectic or stressful is on the agenda for the day.
- Helping him get prepared to face the sharp pangs of nicotine withdrawal.
- Helping him get organized with monitoring the reduction in smoking, by keeping count on number of cigarettes avoided, number of cravings faced successfully and money saved on cigarettes.
Be Participative in their Decision to Choose an Aid
Smokers tend to get confused with the multitude of techniques and devices available in the market.
Not choosing the right methods will entail loss of time and energy, leading to frustration and skepticism on quit smoking methods.
- Smokers who smoke less or occasionally, can confidently start cutting down on cigarettes. They are bound to face less of withdrawal symptoms since nicotine is yet to command the brain pathways in full.
- Heavy smokers who are physically dependent on nicotine, may resort to Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Products include nicotine gums, nasal sprays, patches, lozenges etc that administer minimal quantities of nicotine, gradually preparing mind and body for total cessation.
- Some of the methods that fail in the first instance may be useful in the next attempt. It is better not to criticize someone on the choice of method, but share constructive suggestions instead.
Encourage Them to Take up Fresh and Productive Hobbies
Withdrawal symptoms will lose strength if energies are diverted to pursue engaging and refreshing hobbies.
Brooding over addiction is not going to help. Encourage smokers to do something different, out of ordinary that will include productive employment of time.
- Engage in informative conversation with the smoker, something that will carry their attention away from smoking, when cravings are due to strike.
- If you are helping your spouse to quit, plan for a holiday or in taking up a workshop for personality development or work with an NGO in helping out the poor.
- Visit friends and relatives, go to music concerts, learn a new skill, those that involve hand eye co-ordination, so that when the need to smoke arises, smokers find their hands busy with something else.
Quit smoking, If You are a Smoker, So As to Inspire
Second-hand smoking is evolving as a dangerous trigger of nicotine cravings and in many cases, has been the main reason behind relapses.
If you are trying to help someone stay off cigarettes, begin from you, if you are a smoker.
- Parents smoking at home is a bad sign that triggers teen smoking, which has become a worrisome concern in the society. Quit smoking today to inspire your children tomorrow.
- Giving up smoking in workplaces, in office cafeteria and in parties, will help many smokers, those known as well as strangers, in their attempts to stop smoking. Many smokers who have successfully been off cigarettes, find themselves provoked, and yield to peer pressure.
- As teachers, managers, parents and grandparents, smokers can help others quit by stopping smoking themselves and inspiring other smokers around to understand and accept that smoking is a preventable menace that can be stopped at will.
Cope with their withdrawal symptoms
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms range from mild headaches to severe chest pain.
People wishing to help in smoking cessation must educate themselves fully on the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms as well as tobacco cravings.
- Smokers tend to become irritable and agitated when they stop smoking, due to inability to manage withdrawal symptoms.
- Being supportive during the initial phase when the intensity of withdrawal symptoms is at peak, will be a great help for smokers. For example, suggesting welcome changes in their diet like inclusion of fruits and vegetables and cutting down on intake of coffee etc will be very helpful.
- Inviting them for a brisk morning walk, having herbal tea instead of coffee and spending evenings in healthy company of non-smokers are all small yet effective gestures in helping smokers abstain.
- In case the smokers are taking help of therapists and counsellors, it is advisable to accompany them for such sessions.
Celebrate their milestones
Nothing boosts confidence like a simple note of appreciation.
Celebrate your friend’s small successes in stopping smoking or your spouse reaching the milestone of 10 days without cigarettes, with simple yet poignant gestures like a congratulations card, a delicious dinner or a surprise gift.
- Make smokers understand that even small victories count and they can be foundation for bigger ones.
- Fill a jar with money corresponding to the amount of money saved on cigarettes and celebrate every time the jar fills up.
- Engage your friends to speak in public on the goodness of non-smoking and how they managed to reach the milestone, so that smokers feel a sense of pride on their achievement.
Refrain from ridiculing or exaggerating their relapses
Smoking cessation is under the constant threat of relapse.
The threat cannot be ruled out in entirety. This is because, nicotine triggers are powerful enough to take back smokers to the bad old days, even with simple incidents and experiences.
However, the most successful quitters are those who have tried and tried relentlessly, without giving up. The best way to help those who err or fall back on their resolve will be to:
- Be supportive and understand the reason behind their lapses. For example, a wife can remove ashtrays, switch channels when smoking ads are telecasted and do her best so that her spouse does not to encounter nicotine triggers.
- Be affable and sympathetic, whenever a deviation occurs, yet point out in a mild way so that the lapse does not recur.
- There are chances that the minor lapses balloon into a full-fledged relapse. Even in such cases, it is possible to try again in the near future and emerge successful. Instead of brooding on past failures, urge smokers to try better in the future, with the same or different methods to stop smoking.
There are excellent online resources for quitting smoking like quit smoking tips, interactive chat sessions with non-smoking community, quit calculator to plan the quit plan and dedicated 24 x 7 helpline to answer queries and counseling sessions from experts.
To help someone quit, direct them to make use of these free and friendly tools, available over the internet.