Communication is key:
We talk about this with our patients often, and I believe that the key is having a conversation with your prospective support person about what YOU need.
What is considered support for one person may be not be seen that way by someone else. While some may want to have friends or family asking them how they are doing; others may find that this is annoying and may want to be left alone. Some may want their support people celebrating with them after then have been quit for 2 weeks by taking them to a movie, the mall, or for ice cream. Others, who may be more private, may find that buying something nice for themselves with the money they saved from not smoking is celebration enough. Perhaps thinking of it in terms of the Pros and Cons of support for you may be a way to most quickly assess what you will see as supportive behavior, and what you would consider not supportive behavior.
While you were smoking, although you did not realize it, you may have often used the cigarette to “speak” for you. Yes – smoking is a kind of interpersonal communication. You used the cigarette, and act of lighting up, to say things such as “I need to talk”, “Let’s relax”, “I need to be alone”, “ I want to take care of you” or, “I’d like you to take care of me”. So, again, a conversation with others regarding what you need may be necessary to have as you begin to articulate more clearly your needs to others as a non-smoker.
What can I do to support someone quitting smoking?
When considering ways to support someone quitting tobacco, it is important to remember to keep it simple. A phone call, text or even a short note left in their lunch can really mean a lot. Perhaps suggesting a walk outside if you notice that they are fidgeting a little may be “just what the doctor ordered”. The avoidance of “triggering” (those that were previously associated with smoking) people or situations is paramount those first few months after quitting. Finding a new interest, hobby, or activity, such as swimming or yoga, can assist with filling some of these voids in their life.
Most importantly, quitting smoking is one of the most difficult addictions to quit. And therefore, while relapse is a very real possibility, it is paramount that you recognize the immensity of this task, and verbalize your belief in the individual’s ability to conquer this addiction, and stay quit.
Barb Dallavalle, MA, LP