How to Help a Friend Quit Smoking
Once a smoker has decided to try to quit, s/he is most likely to make it if family, friends, and co-workers give their help and support. Encourage him or her to set a target quit date, and offer to help in any way needed. Family and friends are an important source of support and motivation for a person who is trying to quit smoking. Before offering help, ask if it's okay to help, and then ask what you can do. Don't assume that the person wants your help or that you know the best way to help.
Understanding some basic facts about smoking can make it easier for you to understand what quitting is like. This may make it easier to help the person.
What is nicotine withdrawal?
Symptoms of withdrawal include feeling:
People going through withdrawal may find it hard to: Sleep. Deal with stress. Concentrate.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually begin about 24 hours after a person quits smoking or using tobacco products. Symptoms are the worst between 24 and 48 hours after the person quits. They can last from a few days to 4 weeks. The average length of time a person deals with withdrawal symptoms is 3 to 4 weeks. The craving for cigarettes and increased appetite can last for months.
Treatment for nicotine withdrawal includes medications, counseling or support groups, a nutritious diet, and regular exercise.
If a person asks for your help, there are many things you may be able to do.
Keep in mind; quitting is different for each smoker. Ask your friend how you can be most helpful. This will show that you care and that you really want to help. Tell your friend that you think s/he can succeed this time—even if he has tried to quit before and failed. (In fact, most smokers have to “practice” quitting a few times before they quit for good.)
For the first few days after the smoker quits, be ready to help. He may want to talk all the time, or he may just want extra help when a tough situation comes up, such as a coffee break, a party, or a crisis at home or at work. Offer to call or visit to check on how he is doing. Ask how he’s feeling, not just whether or not he is still off cigarettes.
No nagging, scolding, or preaching—these just don’t work.
Forget about blame or guilt. S/he is really learning how to quit—s/he is not failing. Each time s/he tries to quit is a step forward. You may feel badly if he doesn’t quit. The best thing to say to your friend is, “Good try! I still care about you and will help you next time.” Try to feel good about all your efforts to help. When your friend is ready, you can prepare together for the next time s/he quits smoking.
The first 7 to 10 days are the toughest, and your friend may need the most help then. Most smokers who go back to smoking do so within the first 3 months. So you need to keep in close touch for at least that much time. “Slips” (having a puff or smoking one or two cigarettes) are pretty common. If your friend has slipped, remind him of all the good reasons to stay quit.
You deserve a lot of credit for helping someone end their addiction.