Today we have Guest Post on Stoptober and the challenge of quitting smoking — and how to approach it from the perspective of a loved one who wants to encourage someone in their life to quit. These are difficult conversations to have – but below are really great tips for starting the discussion and how you can help someone stop potentially destructive behavior. This isn’t a subject we’ve covered before so this is a great opportunity to learn more. It fits in really well with Tough Stuff Month. Thanks to James at Dr Ed for reaching out and sharing this post and infographic with our audience! –Amanda
Stoptober: Are you Tough Enough?
On 1st October, the UK government launched the first ever ‘mass quit’ smoking campaign. ‘Stoptober’ urges smokers to quit for the month of October, with the support of friends and family.
Our friends at WEGO Health thought Stoptober would be a great fit with Tough Stuff Month. So if you want to help a loved one to quit (or break any fear, addiction, or bad habit), here are our top tips on starting a difficult conversation, plus ways you can support a quitter, and a handy infographic on the latest smoking cessation treatments.
How to start a difficult conversation…
1. Don’t ambush, pick your moment
You need to pick the right time to broach this subject; it isn’t the sort of conversation to have when waiting for the bus, or on a night out with friends. Instead, choose a quiet time when you’re both relaxed. Try starting the conversation when you’re out walking together. You don’t have to maintain eye contact when walking, so it’s easier to get out all of the difficult things you need to say, but you can still hold hands – and provide that reassuring hand squeeze if and when they need it.
2. Don’t rehearse (too much!)
When building up to an important conversation, it’s so tempting to prepare and practice exactly what to say; but conversations never play out the way you planned them. You don’t want to nag or lecture and risk having your loved one clam up on you. You want to gain an understanding about how they feel about their smoking. So just say your bit and let them speak. Once you have this insight you can work out where to go from there, together.
3. Think about what they want
You know your loved one better than anyone. Are they stubborn? Do they react well to criticism? Or are they likely to feel attacked and become defensive? They may need time to reflect alone and in private so perhaps a written letter would work better? At least this way, you can get out exactly what you want to say without having them cut you off, or shut you down or letting your nerves get the better of you. They’re then free to talk to you when they’re ready. If not, just follow up with a simple ‘did you get my letter, what did you think?’
Now that you’re in it together, you need well informed advice about everything you can do to keep them resisting. Here are our top 10 tips:
- Keep them motivated: Many smokers say they would like to stop but don’t really want to. Make sure they are clear why they want to give up. It may be to save money, to improve health, or to protect their family. Really wanting to give up is the best way to quit
- Provide emotional support: They need people around them that will support them. As many people as possible! Get your partner to tell people that they are quitting. It could be the difference between stopping and starting again.
- Avoid ‘cold turkey’: As you can see from the infographic below, quitting cold turkey is the least effective way of quitting
- Use nicotine replacements or other medication: Every smoker is different, but cutting out nicotine completely is hard, so consider using some kind of nicotine replacement.
- Use cigarette shaped substitutes: Smoking is a physical and a psychological addiction. The feel of a cigarette in their hands may be as important as the nicotine itself. Try out plastic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes perhaps
- Use relaxation techniques: When cravings strike, suggest using relaxation exercises to help overcome the negative feelings. At the very least take deep breaths.
- Treat them: One of the immediate benefits of stopping smoking will be the amount of money saved. Make sure they spoil themselves with the money they’ve saved.
- Focus on the positive: Giving up smoking is one of the hardest things that anyone can do. Get your partner to write down lists of all the positive things that will be gained by stopping smoking. Constantly remind them of how many advantages there are to quitting
- Know the triggers for smoking: Know the situations when your partner smokes (e.g. after a meal) and help them to break the cycle.
- Fill the void: One of the most difficult things with cigarette craving and withdrawal symptoms strike is not having an activity to fill the void. Try chewing gum, eating something healthy, or calling a friend.
The best smoking cessation treatments [Infographic]…
Quitting smoking is tough, but if it’s tough stuff they’re made of, they’ll get there eventually – and you need to make sure that you’re there for them until they do!
Good luck! DrEd – Your Online Doctor