Monday, May 5, 2008

Quitting Smoking is a Process, Not a One Time Event

“Why don’t you just put the cigarette down and walk away?”

“Don’t smokers know how bad it is for them?”

“If I can quit, anybody can quit.”

"If you had any willpower, you would quit."

Smokers are bombarded with messages every day, nagging them to quit smoking. Most smokers do want to quit but there are many reasons why they continue and nagging them to quit, just doesn’t work. Each year, almost half of smokers will try to stop yet less than 10% will be successful. Quitting is a not a one time event but a process that a person moves through. By understanding this process, it is easier for the smoker to go through the steps to becoming a non-smoker at their own pace. Often when trying to help, a loved one actually hinders the process and keeps the smoker smoking instead of motivating them to quit.

There is no magic wand to quitting and it can be one of the hardest things, a smoker ever accomplishes. By believing in progress, not perfection, step by step going through the process, a smoker will move towards the goal of becoming a former smoker.

If you have never smoked, you can not possibly understand how difficult it is to give up smoking and if you are a former smoker, the difficulties that you faced may be different than the difficulties that someone else faces. Quitting smoking is like walking down a road full of land mines. You have the best intention of avoiding the landmines but unless you know where they are hidden and also know what to do, it is easy to blow yourself up. Each smoker is walking a different road, the landmines are in different places and what worked for one person, may not work for another.

When a baby is learning to walk, they hold onto the side of the coffee table for support, then let go, take a step or two and plop on their butt. Their muscles are being developed and with a little practice they are off and running in a short time. It would be stupid to chastise the baby if he didn’t get up and walk perfectly the first time. Instead the parents provide a safe environment for the baby to practice, they provide encouragement and support. Quitting is the same thing. At one time a smoker had to learn how to smoke, it wasn’t natural but after years of practice, it feels natural. Now the smoker needs to learn how to become a non-smoker again.

Believe in progress, not perfection. By developing the skills to quit, step by step, anyone can be a former smoker.

No comments: