Support from family and friends can be very helpful when you're going through the quitting process. Words of encouragement can spur on progress and keep the focus on the positive. It’s motivating knowing that your family/friends will stick by your side during the uncomfortable times, especially in the early days of your quit.
That being said, family and friends may also unintentionally do and say things that make it more difficult for you to quit, actually doing more harm than help. It’s usually not that family and friends want to roadblock your quit, but rather that they just don’t understand how difficult quitting can be. They may see only the irritable, depressed, and unpleasant person you have become, not realizing you are going through withdrawal and perhaps battling one huge crave after another.
The way to remedy this problem is through discussion. Start by explaining to family and friends how important their support will be in helping you quit for good. Let these people know the reasons why quitting is so important to you. Let them know quitting may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Educate family members or friends who have never smoked on the addictiveness of nicotine and how withdrawal causes unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration, depression, etc. Remind your family and friends these are normal but temporary quit symptoms.
If you have family or friends who still smoke, ask them if they have ever tried to quit, and if so, what were their experiences? They may have helpful advice. Make a list and think about ways your family and friends can be helpful in supporting your quit. If you live with a smoker ask them not to leave their tobacco products in sight and to smoke out doors and out of view. If needed, remind them that being around people smoking or seeing cigarettes, lighters, etc., are strong triggers to smoke. Tell them under no circumstances are they to offer you a cigarette. Your family and friends are the people in your life who care about you, so an honest and heartfelt request will more likely than not get you the needed support.
You may be a former smoker or a nonsmoker wondering how you can be supportive in helping a family member or friend who is quitting tobacco. You can begin by asking the quitter what they feel would be most helpful and honor their request. If you are a former smoker it may be helpful to share your past experiences; just respect that the quitter may be using a different quit plan. If the quitter is irritable or moody, it’s due to nicotine withdrawal, not a personal feeling towards you; withdrawal symptoms are temporary. Be available to listen to any concerns they may have about quitting. It's better to talk it out versus smoke it out.
Offer to do activities with the quitter that help distract from cravings, such as going to the gym, for a walk, to the movies, a museum, etc. Be in the quitter’s corner by picking up the slack at home when the stress of quitting is getting to them. Offer any needed help to lighten the load. Continue to encourage the quitter, even if the quitter backslides.
Quitting successfully takes many attempts. Each one is an opportunity to learn and move forward to success. Don't forget to praise your family/friend's quit milestones; whether it be one month or two years, all are cause to celebrate!
Keep coming back, and KTQ!