Quitting smoking: Getting support

Introduction

You've made a big decision. You're going to quit smoking.

Quitting is hard, and you probably know this. Maybe you've quit before. If so, that's normal. Most people quit many times.

What can you do to make it more likely that you'll kick the habit for good?

One important part of quitting smoking is getting help from those around you. Your family, friends, coworkers, and community groups all can help you.

The following information also applies if you use other tobacco products, such as chew or snuff.

Key points

  • Tell people that you're trying to quit. Don't hide your attempt because you're afraid people will see you fail. Most people know how hard it is to quit smoking and that many smokers have to try several times before they succeed.
  • Support can help you quit smoking, and experts recommend getting support from friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Support comes in many forms. It can be positive words and actions, helpful tips, or gentle reminders to stay on track.
 

Support from others ranges from simple love and understanding to actual advice and practical help. Your support team makes you feel good about yourself and cared about as you quit smoking.

Support can come from:

You may ask for different types of support from different people. For example, you can ask one friend if you can call late at night to talk about how you feel, and you can ask another friend to do things with you to distract yourself from nicotine cravings.

Test Your Knowledge

There are many types of support.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    People can give you different types of support. For example, one person may help you by listening, while another shares activities with you.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    People can give you different types of support. For example, one person may help you by listening, while another shares activities with you.

  •  

Continue to Why?

 

Why do you need support?

You need support because it's hard to quit smoking. When you stop smoking, the withdrawal from nicotine can make you grouchy. Your body craves nicotine. You want that cigarette.

The psychological side of quitting may be just as tough. You may feel as if you're surrounded by cigarettes. You see them advertised. Friends smoke. You miss the social rituals of smoking, such as lighting up during your coffee break or as you drive home from work. Smoking may have been part of your celebrations and something to turn to when you were stressed.

Support can help you through the stress of losing this part of your life.

Friends and family can provide shoulders to lean on, and they can encourage you to stick to your quit-smoking plan. They can help distract you when you want to smoke and can understand when you're a bit grumpy.

Support can help you quit smoking. Your doctor, counselors, and former smokers are good sources of support. Also, experts recommend getting support from friends, family, and coworkers.1

Test Your Knowledge

Support is a good thing to have, but nobody really knows if it helps you stop smoking.

  • True
    This answer is incorrect.

    Support can help you quit smoking, and experts recommend getting support from friends, family, and coworkers.

  • False
    This answer is correct.

    Support can help you quit smoking, and experts recommend getting support from friends, family, and coworkers.

  •  

Continue to How?

 

Before anybody can help you quit smoking, you have to ask for help. Many people are wary of helping. They may feel that helping you is the same as nagging you and that this may make it harder for you to quit.

Tell people that you're quitting and that you want their support. Make clear what you expect. Do you want constant reminders on why quitting is the right thing to do, or do you prefer quieter support? Be sure to tell people how much help you want.

Getting support

Let people know what to expect when you quit and how they can help.

  • Tell others that nicotine is an addiction and that as you stop using tobacco, you may be nervous or grouchy. Ask them to put up with you, because this will pass.
  • Ask others to invite you to activities to help keep your mind off smoking. Tell them that you'll invite them to do things too. Try going for lunchtime walks, going to movies, or getting involved with a hobby.
  • Plan special celebrations with your family and friends when you reach one of your quit-smoking goals.
  • Find someone else who wants to quit, and agree to be "quit buddies." This may make quitting easier. You know that someone is sharing the same goals. Your buddy can help you when you're having a craving.
  • Tell people the specific ways they can help you. You may ask one friend to call or visit you to see how it's going. You may ask another friend if you can call when stress causes a craving or just to talk things over.
  • Talk about your fears with others. For example, many people are worried about gaining weight when they quit smoking. Your friends and family can help you get over this fear.

Avoiding triggers

Smokers usually have triggers, which are things that make you want to smoke. Family and friends can help you avoid them.

  • Ask friends and family not to take you to places where people smoke.
  • Identify your triggers, and ask for help avoiding them. For example, if you always have had a smoke with a coffee break, ask a coworker to come by your desk at this time for a chat or a quick walk.
  • Drinking alcohol is often a trigger. If you continue to drink, ask your friends to help you stay away from smoking when you drink.

Talking to other smokers

Friends who smoke or who have quit smoking can help you.

  • Talk to people who have quit smoking. They understand what you're going through and can help you through your cravings.
    • Ask them how they got through times when they wanted to smoke again.
    • Ask them about the good things that quitting smoking has done for them, such as a change in their health and sense of well-being.
    • Ask them for any tips on how to make it easier and about using medicine, classes, or phone hotlines for quitting.
  • Ask people who smoke not to smoke around you. Ask them to keep ashtrays and cigarette packs out of sight.
  • If you live with someone who smokes, see if that person wants to quit smoking with you. If not, talk with him or her about not smoking in front of you and about setting up smoke-free areas.

Other types of support

Many people reach beyond family and friends for support. Here are some ideas:

  • Get advice and support. This can be by telephone, one-on-one, or in a group. The more support you get, the better your chances of quitting. Counseling sessions can also help you if you start smoking again.
  • Join a support group for people who are quitting smoking. People who have quit or are quitting know what you're going through and can help you.
  • Join a quit-smoking program. Your doctor may be able to suggest one. You can also find programs on the Internet.
  • Use the Internet. The Internet gives you 24-hour access to information about quitting smoking and to chat rooms that can provide support.

When you quit, pass it on. Be sure to support other smokers who are trying to quit.

Test Your Knowledge

When people know that you've quit smoking, they'll always help you.

  • True
    This answer is incorrect.

    Some people may give you support just because you've quit, but it's best to ask people for help. Telling people that you've quit and then asking for help is the best way to be sure you get support.

  • False
    This answer is correct.

    Some people may give you support just because you've quit, but it's best to ask people for help. Telling people that you've quit and then asking for help is the best way to be sure you get support.

  •  

Continue to Where?

 

If you would like more information on quitting smoking, the following resources are available:

Online Resources

Smokefree.gov
Smokefree.gov
Web Address: www.smokefree.gov
 

This Web site was created by the Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute with important contributions from other national agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society. It offers an online guide to quitting smoking, including online messaging and telephone support from the National Cancer Institute.


Tobacco Cessation Guideline
Office of the Surgeon General
Web Address: www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/default.htm
 

This Web site provides the U.S. Tobacco Cessation Guidelines and many materials for the consumer who wants to quit smoking.


Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS)
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Web Address: www.cdc.gov/tobacco
 

The Tobacco Information and Prevention Source Web site provides access to many government resources for quitting smoking. It is provided by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP).


Organization

National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines
Phone: 1-800-784-8669 or 1-800-QUITNOW
 

The toll-free number is a single access point to the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines. Callers are automatically routed to a state-run quitline, if one exists in their area. If there is no state-run quitline, callers are routed to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) quitline, where they may receive help with quitting smoking, informational materials, and referrals to other resources.


Quitting smoking can be hard. Here are some tools that can help you do this:

Click here to view a Decision Point. Should I take medicine to quit smoking?
Click here to view an Actionset. Quitting smoking: Dealing with weight gain
Click here to view an Actionset. Quitting smoking: Helping someone quit
Click here to view an Actionset. Quitting smoking: Preventing slips or relapses

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References

Citations

  1. Fiore MC, et al. (2000). Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also available online: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/treating_tobacco_use.pdf.

Last Updated: July 22, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry

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