Helping someone quit

There are many things you can do to help someone who is trying to quit, you can help them make the decision to quit and help them succeed:
How do I help someone decide to quit?
How can I help someone succeed?

How do I help someone decide to quit?

It's difficult to watch someone you care about smoke when you know it’s damaging their health. However, smokers need to make the decision to quit because they realise it will benefit them, not because someone else wants them to. They might stop smoking for your sake, but they won't stay stopped unless they're doing it for themselves.

You can still help them to make the decision to quit, and you can provide support and encouragement once they have quit smoking.

Your friend or family member could do with your help if they are to become a non-smoker. But you have to offer real assistance, rather than nagging, preaching, smugness or criticism. You'll be much more helpful if you follow some of these tips.

If you are an ex-smoker

    • Remember, the reasons people have for smoking and the things that trigger their smoking are different for everyone.
    • What helped you quit may not necessarily work for your friend or family member.
    • Encourage the smoker to try a range of things until they find what is best for them.

If you are a smoker

    • Consider the influence you may have on the smoker if you do not make changes to your smoking.
    • Are you willing to change too, either cut down or not smoke in front of them?

If you have never smoked

    • Learn about addiction to smoking, and understand that quitting can be very difficult, especially in the early days.
    • Smokers often feel in conflict about their smoking – they want to stop, but part of them wants to keep smoking.
    • Don't become involved in arguments about smoking.
    • Chances are that the smoker knows as well as you do that smoking is bad for their health and is becoming less acceptable around others in public places. Disagreements only make smokers more defensive and more likely to insist on their right to keep on smoking.

Show that you care

    • Nagging achieves little and often results in both parties feeling angry. Express your opinion clearly and simply, in a way that shows that you care: don't just carry on about what they should be doing.
    • Let your friend know – tactfully – that there are self-help materials and organisations that can give support to people trying to quit.
    • Let them know – if they ask, or are talking about how they should give up smoking – that they can call the Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) for advice, information or a free Quit Pack.
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How can I help someone succeed?

Whether a smoker succeeds in quitting has a lot to do with how the people around them react to the decision. Some people will support them. Others will, consciously or subconsciously, work to undermine that person's plan to become a non-smoker. Smokers aren't the only saboteurs. If you want to make sure you're helping, not hindering, follow these tips.

Provide support, understanding and encouragement – even if your quitting friend slips up

Sometimes smokers slip up and smoke a couple of cigarettes even though they are trying to quit. There are many reasons why this happens. The smoker may not have prepared for how to deal with all their usual smoking situations, they might have decided it's OK to have ‘just one’, or they may have difficulty thinking of themselves as a non-smoker.

If your friend slips-up, encourage them to put it behind them and focus on the reason why they want to quit. If your friend goes back to full-time smoking, remember that most smokers make several attempts before they are able to stop completely. Every attempt is a step in the right direction and will make it easier for them to stop next time around. Criticism, on the other hand, is counterproductive: it just makes the smoker fearful of being judged and less likely to try again.

Help your friend to follow through with quitting strategies they have planned

What sort of support do you think your friend wants you to provide? Perhaps you can support them smoker when they go out. If they have decided to avoid tempting situations, such as pubs or parties, suggest some alternative activities that you could enjoy together, such as going out to a smoke-free restaurant, a play or a film. If they have decided to take up exercise and need encouragement, offer to go along too.

Be around

Sometimes, a person who's trying not to smoke just needs someone to talk to.

Acknowledgement – This information on Helping someone to quit been supplied by Quit Victoria


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