Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bad Support for Quitters-What Not To Do

When Frank, a two pack a day smoker, came home from work after his first day of not smoking, his wife asked him how it went. Frank admitted he smoked one cigarette. His wife blew up at him yelling “You’re supposed to be quitting. How can you be so weak?”
Lee’s husband was always nagging her to quit. Finally he threatened to take away her new car can cancel their vacation if she didn’t stop smoking. When she succeeded for three days, he went around and told everyone how HE got her to quit. It was no surprise when she started again to spite her.
When Stephanie told her boyfriend she was going to quit smoking he just looked at her and said sarcastically, “Again, how many times does this make?”
If you’ve never smoked, you can’t begin to know how difficult it is to quit. Plain and simple…cigarette smoking is an addiction.
It’s bad enough that society is nagging smokers to quit, they don’t need to hear it from you too. In fact, there isn’t a smoker around, except for the executives at the tobacco companies, who don’t tell themselves:
• I need to quit.
• Smoking is bad for me.
• It’s bad for the people around me.
Anyone who smokes knows they need to quit. There isn’t anything you can say to a smoker about quitting that he doesn’t say to himself regularly. Confrontations, threats, put-downs or preaching are not the ways to help. What they need is plenty of support and they need it from you.
Tell you loved one that during this difficult transition, he can call on you for support at any time. Make yourself available, but let the smoker dictate if he or she wants to talk about smoking or not. It’s best just to say “How are you doing?” and let him take the lead.
The decision to quit smoking is a big one. It’s the first step to becoming a non-smoker. Because the addiction to nicotine and cigarettes is both a physiological as well as psychological it may take more than one attempt to break the dependency.
Help your loved one stay away from other smokers and cigarettes. Understand if they decline an invitation where other smokers will be. It’s worth the inconvenience and trouble to avoid a situation where it would be easy for them to “just have one.”
Encourage activities that are inconsistent with smoking, such as hiking, walking, swimming, and tennis, or go to places where smoking is not allowed, the movies, museums, church.

Please keep in mind that your loved one is going to experience both physiological withdrawal.
Physiological withdrawal requires about two weeks to run its course. Nicotine is efficiently eliminated through the kidneys so it’s a good idea for your non-smoker to drink large amounts of water and other liquids. Headaches, irritability, muscle cramps and aches, anxiety and visual and sleep disturbances are common symptoms of withdrawal. The degree to which these symptoms are experienced is highly individual. Some fortunate quitters have no symptoms while others will experience them all.
The psychological withdrawal from cigarettes is hardest during the first 2 to 3 months after quitting. Nicotine is so physically addicting that someone who gives into craving to have her just one will most likely start smoking again.

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