Quitting smoking is a monumental undertaking, but it can be a little easier when the smoker has a close support system, such as a family member or a partner.

As a loved one, you may feel helpless as you watch your loved one struggle to quit smoking. If you’ve never been addicted to smoking yourself, it may even be confusing or frustrating as you don’t quite understand why they aren’t succeeding, or even trying.

It’s important to understand why quitting smoking is hard, both physically and mentally, so that you can support your loved one in the best way possible.

Nicotine addiction

One of the main reasons quitting smoking is difficult is due to nicotine addiction. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that activates the reward centres in the brain, making it difficult to quit.

Over time, the body becomes dependent on nicotine, requiring more of it to feel normal. When the body doesn’t get enough nicotine, cravings and agitation can occur, leading to withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

It’s important to keep in mind that these symptoms can be especially pronounced in individuals who have a history of mental health issues.

To a lesser extent, but still important to consider, quitting smoking can also lead to feelings of boredom and loneliness as the smoker adjusts to a new lifestyle without cigarettes.

Triggers and cravings

Another factor that makes quitting smoking so difficult is the association of smoking with certain activities, places, and people, and these are called ‘triggers’.

Many smokers associate smoking with stress relief, socializing, or other enjoyable activities. These associations make it difficult to quit smoking as the smoker may feel that they are losing something important.

Physical challenges

Finally, quitting smoking can be difficult due to the physical challenges that come with the process. The body has become dependent on nicotine, and many smokers experience weight gain, insomnia, and negative changes in appetite, which can make it harder to quit and even harder to stay quit.

As a loved one of a smoker, it’s important to understand these challenges that come with quitting smoking. By being supportive and understanding, you can play a crucial role in helping your loved one become smokefree for good.