How to help a friend or family member quit smoking
Tips for helping a friend or family member to kick the habit.
Giving up cigarettes isn't easy and you don't have to be a smoker to know that. Watching friends or family members struggle with their addiction to nicotine can be difficult but they don't have to do it alone. You can help them.
Helping someone quit
Below are some tips for helping someone give up their nicotine addiction but before you get involved, check out our info on the effects of smoking and the cost of smoking. Being informed about nicotine addiction and withdrawals can help you understand what your friend or family member is dealing with.
Offering your support
To help someone quit, you first have to realise that you can’t force them to stop smoking. Don’t try to nag or demand that they stop as this won't help, in fact it may make things worse. Instead, be ready for the time when they are ready to give up smoking themselves as in order for the quitting process to be genuine and successful they need to make the decision themselves.
When the time comes that they are thinking of quitting, be positive and encourage them. Your support and encouragement will make a huge difference and will help them cope when the withdrawal symptoms hit.
Be patient as it may take many attempts before someone is able to quit for good. The main thing is to keep encouraging them at each attempt and try not to sabotage their efforts by being cynical.
How can I help them quit?
- Support: If your friend is to stay off cigs long-term then they’ll need your support. Let them know that they can ring you or text you when the urge to smoke hits them. Send them supportive texts and check in with them regularly to see how they're doing.
- Benefits: Remind them of the benefits of quitting and remind them how much money they’ll save.
- Dealing with cravings: Do they know the 4 ‘D’s for Dealing with Cravings? 1. Distract yourself – cravings only last 3-5 minutes 2. Delay – the urge will pass 3. Take a Drink of water 4. Take some Deep breaths
- Support groups: Let them know that there is individual and group support available to anyone who wants to quit smoking. These support groups are usually free of charge and in your local area. Encourage them to check out Quit.ie for tips on how to quit. They can also check out the Quit Facebook page to read stories from smokers who are quitting and to share their own.
- Patience: Advise them to take one day at a time and to reward themselves regularly throughout the process of giving up.
- Quitline: Get them to call the Quitline on Freephone 1800 201 203 to talk to someone who understands and can help them to quit, and find the local support in their area.
- Encouragement: If they are having success, make sure to praise their efforts and treat them to something special. If they're not doing so well, try to avoid nagging or lecturing them as it will only make them feel worse.
- Exercise: Encourage them to exercise regularly – this is a great way of dealing with withdrawal symptoms, and will help them feel better in general.
- Make plans: Plan to do something nice at the end of each week with them as a reward for their hard work.
- Be prepared: Be prepared for some serious mood swings. Your friend or family member may take their frustration out on you, but the key is to be patient and realise that it's not personal but is their withdrawal symptoms talking.
Benefits of Quitting
Reminding your friends of the benefits may help them while they quit.
- Within 20 minutes your circulation will improve.
- The damage smoking does to your skin will be halted.
- You’ll have more money.
- Within eight hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood will drop and the oxygen level will go up.
- You’ll start to feel fitter and will be able to play sport without getting breathless.
- Within five years the risk of smoking related cancers will be greatly reduced.
- You will be back in control of your life, your health and your looks.
Where else can you tell them to go to get support?
- Let them know that there is individual and group support available to anyone who wants to quit smoking. Encourage them to check out Quit.ie for tips on how to quit.
- They can also check out the Quit.ie Facebook page to read stories from smokers who are quitting and to share their own.
- Tell them they can call the Quitline on Freephone 1800 201 203 to talk to someone who understands and can help them to quit.
- Share a link to SpunOut's article about giving up cigarettes with them.