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How to stop smoking

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Non-smokers often find it difficult to understand the trials and tribulations that their smoking friends go through when trying to kick the habit. This is particularly true if they have never dealt with their addiction before. In the end, how hard can it be to just stop doing something, right?
If you’re a former smoker or know someone who has successfully kicked the cigarette habit, you know how silly that last sentence really is. Nicotine addiction is not to be laughed at. The support of loved ones can really make a difference to a person’s quitting result. There are lots of ways in which you can support your friend to make this ordeal more bearable, and in this article we’ll look at some of the best.

Why is it so hard to quit smoking?

To truly help someone who is trying to quit smoking, it is essential to understand cigarette addiction and its mechanics. Without it you can do more harm than good.

Most non-smokers have good intentions when it comes to getting their friends or family to give up their habit. But not knowing why quitting is so difficult, their attempts to help often become another source of frustration and a major impetus in the lives of smokers.

On the chemical level, the release of nicotine into your system releases a rush of dopamine, which simply makes the smoker feel good. As they seek more and more cigarettes throughout the day, they become addicted to the substance and start craving more of it to get back to that pleasurable space.

All this is further complicated by nicotine’s interaction with the adrenal glands in our brains. This releases adrenaline into the brain, increasing the smoker’s attention and energy levels. Much like the release of dopamine discussed above, habitual smokers become dependent on nicotine to maintain high levels of productivity. That is why smoking is common among individuals in mentally or physically demanding occupations.

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Nicotine and smoking removal

This is only a surface-level summary of why people become addicted to cigarettes in the first place. When they realise they have a problem and try to get rid of the addiction, smokers have to deal with many withdrawal symptoms on a daily basis, especially in the weeks after their last cigarette. They include:

  • Huge feelings of anxiety, depression and sadness.
  • Difficulties sleeping.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Weight gain and frequent feelings of hunger.
  • Severe cravings and urges to smoke.

People who have never been addicted to nicotine find it difficult to understand these withdrawal symptoms. They may even understandably get frustrated or angry at the thought of quitting because they have slipped up. It is vital to remember that because of nicotine’s chemical interaction with the brain and the high level of addiction it can cause, smokers do not feel in full control of their impulses when it comes to smoking.
If you truly want to help your loved one to quit smoking, proper communication, emotional support and empathy are essential, especially in the early stages. What they need to know is that you are on their side and that you are supporting them in something they want to do for themselves, not because you or someone else pushed them to quit.

How you can help someone quit smoking: useful communication tips

When speaking to someone who is quitting, you may not always know what to say in certain situations, how to persuade them that the struggle is really worth it, or how to find the best ways to positively reinforce their efforts. In this chapter, we will look at four key strategies you can use to communicate effectively with a friend who is trying to quit smoking.

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Talk about the direct benefits of casting

Rather than focusing on all the negative aspects of smoking, change your approach and start mentioning more of the positive aspects of not smoking. Quitting after three or four days without cigarettes can be obvious, especially if you pay attention to it beforehand. These are some topics of conversation that you can use to reassure your friend that they are on the right track:

Your heart rate drops to a healthier level within minutes of your last cigarette.
Your blood nicotine level drops to zero after 24 hours without smoking.
A few days after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to non-smoker levels.
It only takes a few weeks to a month of not smoking for food to start tasting better, stamina to return to non-smoking levels and smokers’ coughs to dissipate.
A month later, your lung capacity will increase.

Please be careful when talking about health problems

It is easy to be judged when talking about the health risks of smoking with a smoker. They are, after all, well aware of these dangers and know that they have become accustomed to them. And even if you mean well, starting a conversation about lung cancer statistics or heart attack problems can still come across as bossy and ‘pushy’.

This is especially important if someone close to you is not yet ready to quit. In these situations, you risk alienating your friend who simply does not want to listen to your lectures. Do not forget about the mechanisms of nicotine dependence that we have discussed above, and understand that ultimately the decision to quit must be made by the smoker and not forced by a third party.

Celebrating milestones and small victories together

Each day of the quitting journey is difficult, full of potential causes of relapse and withdrawal symptoms that are hard to overcome. It might seem insignificant and unnecessary to you, but celebrating even the smallest victory can make a positive difference to someone struggling with addiction.

Bring them out to celebrate their last cigarette, their first week without smoke, their first month, etc. Get them involved in activities that they enjoy on those occasions, creating an association between smoking cessation and enjoyable entertainment. If you are away from them, be sure to monitor your friend’s progress and call them on important dates.

Patience is the key

Do not respond negatively to slips and bounces. These are a normal part of the quitting process and can happen to even the most motivated individuals. Plus, they have already judged and criticised themselves for catching fire before you even have a chance, so don’t add fuel to that fire.

Just be patient. Please try to understand why they slipped up. Rather than scolding them for this failure, discuss it as a learning experience that may give them the strength to do better next time.

Source : NEAFS

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