Posted by: wortix | October 24, 2008

Tips for supporting someone who’s quitting tobacco

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By Jennifer A. Kern, M.S., C.T.T.S.

Many people feel concern for a loved one who uses tobacco. It can be hard to know how to offer support to someone who is struggling with an addiction, especially if you’ve never “been there” yourself.

It can be frustrating to see someone you care for seemingly choose to do something harmful. At times you may feel hopeless, but there are things you can do to help.

  • Practice patience. Remember that it is up to your friend or family member to decide when it’s the right time for them to stop smoking. Providing patience in the meantime can keep the door open for them to seek your support when they are ready.
  • Be positive. In any exchange you have regarding quitting, offer words of encouragement. Focus on how you feel about the effort they are making; let them know you feel happy and appreciative or that you are proud of them. It is important for your loved one to know how their effort affects you in positive ways.
  • Be understanding. Smoking is something that can be used to cope with many situations and emotions, such as boredom, stress, sadness or joy. It is important to realize that anyone who is quitting smoking is dealing with a big upheaval in their life. Try to express empathy for what your loved one is going through.
  • Show confidence. Don’t underestimate the power of belief in your friend or family member’s ability to quit. Focus on their current success instead of reminding them of past failures. Your trust and encouragement can be vital, particularly during moments when their own resolve may be wavering.
  • Get on board. Ask your loved one about the coping strategies they plan on using to quit and get involved in any way you can. For example, ask to join their new morning walking routine or help them avoid temptation by planning activities that take place in smoke-free settings.
  • Reward their progress. Make special plans with your friend or family member to recognize their hard work. Surprise them with small expressions of appreciation or encouragement. Celebrate their success on their quit date “anniversary” as frequently as each month or each week.

What is most important when supporting someone who is quitting smoking is to discover what they find to be most helpful. Each person responds differently to various kinds of support. Some people like a lot of praise and reminders of how well they are doing and others prefer non-verbal or quieter support where they aren’t overly reminded of smoking. Talk to your friend or family member about what they think will be most effective for them.

At the end of they day, the key to successfully supporting a loved one who is quitting tobacco use is finding what’s most meaningful to them and doing your best to meet their needs during this big transition.

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