Head & Neck

Helping Family Members Quit Smoking

written by Becki Andrus
Helping Family Members Quit Smoking

It can be hard to see when someone you care about chooses a habit that negatively impacts their health, such as smoking. You know that cigarettes can lead to serious health problems in the future, and the smoker likely knows these risks as well.

The truth is that this addictive behavior can be difficult to break. Even if the person wants to stop, they might find it challenging to quit the habit and stay on-track in the future. 

When a person finally decides that they are ready to quit smoking, family and friends can make a big difference by offering support and help. Understand that some reluctance is normal, especially when smoking has been a habit for many years. 

Look for Help and Resources 

Anytime an addiction needs to be broken, it can be helpful to have support through outside resources. For example, a smoking cessation program could be a valuable asset. These programs are often available through local health centers, national programs, and through workplace or insurance benefits. 

You can look up the resources to provide options for your loved one. For example, every state has a free quit-line for smoking cessation support. In Texas, www.yesquit.org provides support online and by phone, with easy-to-follow plans that help individuals create a smoke-free lifestyle.

Not only do these resources offer training videos and progress tracking, but it can be helpful to connect with a community of people who are in the program.

Do’s and Don’ts for Helping a Smoker Quit

As a friend or family member, there are a few things that you can do to encourage your loved one to stop smoking. It is important that you are careful about your approach, to show the person that you are offering encouragement and support.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to consider when you are ready to talk to them about their options:

  • Do: Ask the person how much they would like you to be involved. Find out if they want you to check in about how they are doing with their goal to quit.
  • Do: Schedule activities to enjoy together to help the person keep their mind off smoking, such as going on a walk or to a movie. Sometimes getting out of the house can help with distraction when the cravings are intense. 
  • Don’t: Nag or doubt the person’s ability to stop smoking. Negative language and condescending conversations can demotivate the smoker. Don’t make the person feel worse because of your teasing, preaching, or scolding.
  • Do: Encourage them to join a support group. Talking to other people in the same situation can provide the social support that is needed to make it through the toughest moments. It can be empowering to interact with people who are helping each other through the process.
  • Do: Honor that the smoker has the choice regarding what they are going to do with their life. You can encourage lifestyle changes, but this addiction is their challenge… not yours.
  • Do: Invite the person to talk to you whenever needed. Give them a safe place where they can speak openly without judgment or criticism. 
  • Don’t: Take personal offense to the person’s grumpiness. Nicotine withdrawal can lead to mood swings. It is important that you are supportive in the early stages as they are working through the initial symptoms. Grumpiness will usually subside after about two weeks.
  • Do: Keep alternative options in the house, such as straws to chew on, hard candy to suck on, or fresh veggies that are ready to eat in the fridge. Many people find it beneficial to turn to a substitute activity when they are craving a cigarette.
  • Do: Remove items in the home that might remind them of smoking, such as ashtrays and lighters.
  • Do: Plan celebrations for big markers that are met. Determine a fun activity to share at significant milestones, such as one week, one month, and a year of living smoke-free.

Be Patient and Encouraging

Keep in mind that the smoker will likely feel frustrated when they try to stop, and then quickly fall back into the habit again. More often than not, it takes several tries before someone can stop smoking. Some people try to stop 8 to 10+ times before they are successful at quitting for good. 

If your loved one lapses, don’t look at these mistakes as failures. Instead, recognize the process and encourage them to try again. There is a lot that needs to be learned. Not only does the person need to break the nicotine addiction, but lifestyle, hobbies, and daily activities are also impacted by this change. 

Remembering the “Why” of Smoking Cessation

Every person needs to find their own motivation when it comes to major lifestyle changes.

If your friend or family member is going to be successful with smoking cessation, then they need to find the reasons that are important to them.

Encourage the person to identify their internal inspiration for quitting, which might include:

  • Save Money: Cigarettesare expensive, and the costs add up over the months and years. What else could the person be doing with the money?
  • Children: Some people are motivated when they are trying to be a good example for their children. Quitting smoking can be a good way to set a healthy family culture at home.
  • Health: There’s no doubt that smoking is bad for your health, so some people are motivated to stop because they want to avoid disease. Smoking affects the brain, circulation, heart, lungs, and more. Not only does the risk of cancer increase, but smokers have a higher risk for a variety of diseases and illnesses such as pneumonia, upper respiratory infections, COPD, and heart disease.
  • Appearance: Smoking causes tooth staining, wrinkles, dull skin, and can take a toll on the aging process. For some people, their motivation to stop smoking is to maintain a youthful appearance for longer.

Talk to an ENT about an Individualized Treatment Plan

Many ENT disorders are affected by a person’s decision to smoke, which is why we encourage our patients to quit. Every person is unique, which is why it is important to create an individualized treatment plan to overcome this habit.

If you or a loved one is ready to stop smoking, then our team is here to offer the support that is needed.

We provide quality ENT services for patients in the Denton or Dallas areas. Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat has two convenient offices in the area in Frisco or Plano, TX. Call to schedule an appointment and learn more about available services: (972) 596-4005

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