Quitting smoking: a little help from my friends

help friends quit smokingBeating a stubborn addiction is one of the most difficult things you can do. Your body develops a need for a substance, even if it’s harmful, and the cravings can be a painful and anxiety inducing affair.

Tobacco and cigarettes are a particularly difficult habit to get rid of as tobacco is legal and you can find it in many shops. Sometimes even stopping for some milk on the way home can be a problem for someone who is trying to quit. The cigarette counter is right there, and the temptation can be almost unbearable.

With cigarettes so readily available it may seem like the world is against the person trying to quit. This is the main reason why support from the people closest to the smoker is important. Quitting is not an easy task, but if you ask for help you will have a higher chance of success. And if you don’t smoke, but someone close to you is trying to quit, lending a helping hand can go a long way.

I’m a smoker trying to quit – what can I do?

To start off, you can consider seeking medical treatment. Products like Champix (varenicline) can help reduce the symptoms associated with nicotine cravings. However, if you want to greatly increase your chances of success, social support is crucial. Do not assume that those around you know what you’re going through. You may suffer from mood swings and irritability, and if your friends and family are informed, they will be able to understand it better. Ask them for their help, request a bit of tolerance and empathy, and don’t be afraid to speak up about the symptoms you are experiencing. If people in your life are smokers, politely ask them to not do it around you. This may help prevent a possible relapse.

Avoiding places where tobacco is consumed is also a good idea. Your environment can either help you or deter you from quitting smoking. Find new ways to cope with stress. If you know anyone who is a former smoker don’t be afraid to ask them how they handled stress when they were quitting. Determine the method that’s right for you.

Finally, set goals and reward yourself for achieving them; perhaps a little treat for your first week without cigarettes or a short holiday after that first month. Keeping yourself motivated is very important.

I know someone who is trying to quit – how can I help them?

Be supportive. The person trying to quit is going through a lot. He or she probably knows that smoking is bad (which is why they are trying to quit) so nagging, preaching or reminding them that smoking kills may not be the best form of support. In fact it could cause even more stress that could lead to a relapse. Recognise his or her efforts and reward the person when they reach a landmark in their treatment.

Be ready to listen. Quitting smoking comes with a whole range of emotions and feelings. The person may be really nervous and afraid of not being able to quit, or very excited about the positive changes they’re experiencing in their body.

You can even have a bit of fun providing new alternatives, like going to the cinema, or trying new restaurants. Find places where smoking is not allowed and discover new and exciting things to do.

If you’re a smoker too, consider quitting as well. It is much easier to do it as a couple or a group than doing it alone; the support becomes mutual. If you are not ready to quit, avoid smoking in front of the person who is, and definitely don’t engage in any debates on the subject of quitting.

If you notice that the person trying to quit is really struggling, remind them that there is medical treatment available to help them.

The road to a healthy smoke free life can be rough but the goal is much easier to reach if you have help from those around you. Seek support, or support a friend, and smoking really can become a thing of the past.