Be a Friend, a Coach, a Cheerleader
When someone in your life decides to become smokefree, then that is a day to celebrate! A great step towards better health has been taken and there’s so much you can do to be supportive. In fact, 40 percent of smokers who quit say that support from other people made a big difference in their success. However, quitting for most people isn’t easy; cravings don’t disappear overnight and withdrawal symptoms are a reality. So, whether you are supporting a friend or a family member, the more you know about quitting, the more helpful you can be.
Here are 10 tips for you to help a quitter quit successfully:
- Get informed. Smoking is a serious addiction, and withdrawal can be a bummer on the body and emotions. The first 7-10 days are typically the worst, and that’s when your quitter will need you the most. Learn about the symptoms of withdrawal and things you can do with your friend to counteract them. (Some of them are fun!)
- Help plan and prepare for the quit. Before your friend’s quit date, help put together and think through your quitter’s personalized quit plan. It can be a lot to go through and your friend will appreciate the help.
- Help the “Quit Clean-Up.” Assist your quitter in removing all signs of smoking from the home by disposing of ashtrays, cigarettes, lighters, etc., and cleaning things that smell of smoke like carpets, drapes, and clothes. Sounds like a big job, but doing it together can make it go a lot faster. And all this effort clears the space of triggers that could lead to a relapse.
- Be a cheerleader. Your role is to stay positive, upbeat, and encouraging throughout the quit. Nagging, teasing, and scolding just don’t work and can cause hurt feelings that trigger the need for a cigarette. Instead, remind your quitter of the wonderful health benefits that come from quitting like glowing skin, healthier lungs, and so much more!
- Offer diversions. Inspire your quitter with things you can do together like going to the movies, taking a walk, or biking — all activities where smoking can be easily forgotten. This helps the quitter get through a smoking craving. Being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air is an especially strong antidote.
- Steer away from triggers. If you’re a smoker, be kind enough to not smoke in your quitter’s presence. Plus, help the quitter avoid any situation where smoking is present. Since drinking alcohol is sometimes a trigger for smoking, help steer your quitter away from alcoholic events; if that’s not possible, accompany your quitter and enjoy drinking nonalcoholic beverages together.
- Share your quit experiences. If you’ve quit successfully in the past, nobody understands what your quitter is going through better than you. Share advice from your own experiences, but don’t moan on about how hard it was to quit. If you’re not a smoker, perhaps you’ve overcome something else in your life. However, remember this quit is about the quitter, not you, so know when to stop talking and just listen!
- Reframe the slip-ups. There may come a time where your friend smokes a cigarette or two. Help your quitter understand that a slip-up does not mean failure, and it is no reason to stop trying. In fact, each slip-up can make you stronger if you get back on track quickly. Remind your quitter of the progress so far and talk through any triggers that may have caused the slip-up.
- Be on call. Cravings can arise at any time, especially late at night or after a stressful event (happy or sad). Let your quitter know when you’re available to talk or take a walk. Sometimes just being present as a listener is all that’s needed to help a quitter get through a craving. Develop the art of listening without judgment.
- Celebrate success! Celebrating a successful quit, even for a week, a month, or more, lets the quitter know their effort has been acknowledged and honored. Each milestone you recognize—either through flowers, tickets to a special event, or a home-cooked meal—encourages your quitter to stay on track and succeed!
Quit in the past? Share your own advice on Facebook to help a quitter!