Perhaps you’ve seen the determination in your partner’s eyes when they first said, “I’m going to quit smoking.” Perhaps they’ve planned their entire quit journey with you and a GP and have been doing so well throughout the process.
But, it felt like everything crashed down when they lit up a ciggie one day.
It can be easy for a smoker to say they want to quit smoking, but the process isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes, their quit smoking plans will hit a snag, and they’ll yoyo between quitting and smoking, much to your disappointment.
Even if you feel like being angry and expressing this disappointment, please remember to be patient and understanding. Genuine concern, encouragement, and patience play vital roles in helping someone close to you who is trying to quit smoking.
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In this post, we’ll take a look at the best way we can support someone struggling to quit.
Expressing Your Concern About Their Health
For non-smokers, the allure of cigarettes may feel incomprehensible, making it easy to devalue nicotine addiction’s grip on a motivated smoker’s life, and can come off as insensitive or even overbearing when expressing your concern.
Nagging a smoker doesn’t help, especially when you resort to scaring them with the consequences of smoking. Worse, they might see you in a bad light and refuse to listen to you entirely after feeling harassed by your daily lectures.
It’s okay to be concerned about a smoker’s health, but be sure to approach the topic with empathy. Understand how nicotine addiction works and why it’s so hard to quit smoking, despite knowing the consequences.
More importantly, keep in mind that quitting must be done on their own terms – when they are ready to commit to the process – to be effective.
Helping Them Understand the Immediate Impact of Quitting
Did you know that within 6 days of quitting, a smoker gains many health benefits? Delicately presenting the near immediate impact of kicking the habit can further motivate a smoker and urge them to quit successfully.
- Makes food tastier
- Improves lung capacity and blood oxygenation (which is necessary for nutrition)
- And increases endurance.
Showing a motivated smoker these positive results, rather than lecturing them about harms, is a much more effective approach.
For instance, climbing a long winding staircase during a trip can make them realise they can climb it easily and without difficulty breathing if they quit smoking and then make it their goal.
You can also spotlight a long-term goal they have always desired. If they always wanted a muscle car, show them how much they can save and easily pay for it by quitting smoking. You can even top up the reward by pitching in a “prize” of sorts if they become successful.
Celebrate Small Victories
Celebrating a victory of any size, whether giving a small gift to commemorate the last cigarette of a motivated smoker or bringing out the party poppers after a week of being clean, improves the motivation of smokers and gives them determination to keep on keeping on.
Winning and celebrating are pleasurable activities that release dopamine in the system, which positively reinforces the behaviour, actions, and processes in a motivated smoker and boosts their psyche and motivation to commit to kicking out smoking from their lives for good.
So, don’t think that one day or one week of being smokefree is no cause for celebration – it’s worth every cake and party popper.
The motivated smoker has already beaten themselves up for having slipped up before you could even react. Again, expressing your disappointment and frustration at them will double the negative reinforcement, which can discourage them from committing to the process.
For many supporters, it’s easy to downplay nicotine addiction without having gone through it. It’s important to know that quitters who have a year or more behind them can still mess up and light a cigarette.
While it sounds like new quitters are given a free pass to smoke whenever they want during the process, this isn’t the case.
The idea is for supporters to be patient and empathetic toward the quitter’s thoughts and feelings before and after they lit up the cigarette.
By understanding the motives behind their actions, it’s easy to reframe the mess-up as a learning experience and encourage them to do better next time rather than scold and judge them for their failure – an act that doesn’t achieve anything productive.
Accept That Motivated Smokers Can Still Slip Up
Still on the subject of patience and failure, supporters must accept that a smoker can still slip up even after five years or a decade of stopping smoking. More importantly, they must realise that quitting smoking is an ongoing process that continues beyond decades of kicking the habit.
Relapses can always happen to successful quitters. It could be an alcohol-laden work party or a sudden curiosity if they can control themselves even if they just had one cigarette.
Any smoker can get tempted back after 10 or 20 years of stopping smoking. The biggest difference between long- and short-term quitters is motivation.
A long-term smoker regrets their decision and immediately stops smoking for good once again. A short-term quitter, usually just a week or month off the ciggies, is more likely to give in completely.
The most important thing to do when a long-term smoker lights a cigarette is to listen to them and ask if what they did was wrong. If they did, do not scold them – let them know it’s okay to have made a mistake and to let go of the guilt by starting the quitting process once again.
The Importance of Professional Help
Motivation and a support system are two key elements of a successful quit journey. However, a GP is the key to ensuring the process works.
GPs can tailor a quit journey with the smoker’s needs in mind. They can provide access to the best nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) tools a smoker might need, and are also responsible for prescribing second-line nicotine vaping products (NVPs) from pharmacies, if they assess NRTs to be ineffective for them.
Pharmacies only carry NVPs that are made with stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
Quitting smoking is a journey equal to navigating a road full of mountains and valleys – it goes up, down, and sideways. Even the most motivated smokers will find difficulty navigating the challenges of quitting, but with a reliable support group helping them and celebrating their victories, they have the best chance of succeeding in kicking smoking out for good.
We know you’re reading this because you find it hard to support a friend or loved one struggling to quit smoking. We hope you found this informative. There’s more you can learn by going through our blog posts.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
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