Support for Smokers Wanting to Quit
Congratulations! You have made the decision to quit smoking. Whether this is your first or fifth time trying to quit, your effort is worthy of praise. Quitting smoking may not come easily, and sometimes it takes more than your own desire to completely kick the habit. Sometimes it takes support from others—family, friends, coworkers, professionals, and even the Internet. Here is a list of support systems to help you reach your goal of finally quitting smoking.
Counselors can be excellent resources, providing strategies to quit as well as motivation. Counselors can work with you one-on-one or in group settings with other smokers. If you are taking medications to help you quit, pairing your medications with counseling can increase your chances of quitting. If money is an issue, contact your insurance company. Counseling sessions may be covered under your plan.
During your sessions, you and your counselor will have the opportunity to discuss the following:
- What are the triggers that make you want to smoke or smoke again after you have quit? Perhaps you feel the urge to smoke when you are around others smoking. Or maybe certain emotions, like stress, prompt you to smoke.
- How can you control the urge to smoke? You and your counselor will develop and practice coping skills you can use when you feel the need to reach for a cigarette.
- When do you want to quit? Setting an official quit date will not only give you something to aim for, but it may also increase your chances of quitting.
Other activities you and your counselor will work together on:
Tobacco-proofing your home and car —This involves removing anything from your home and car that may trigger or remind you of smoking, like cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays.
Getting educated —You will learn basic information about the dangers of smoking and ways to quit.
Building your social support network —Aside from your counselor, you will be encouraged to get support and share your concerns with others in your life. Talking with friends, family, and smokers who have successfully quit will keep you motivated, especially during difficult times when the urge to smoke seems overwhelming.
Telephone and Text Counseling
Some counseling services are available over the telephone. If you are unable to see a counselor in person, talking to someone over the telephone may be just as helpful. You can find a list of quit lines for the US and Canada by state and province online. You may also want to check with your local health department or clinic, since they may offer free counseling and support through their quit lines. You can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to be connected with your state’s tobacco quit line.
Services, such as LiveHelp from the National Cancer Institute, provide information and advice about quitting through real-time web-based chat messaging with a smoking cessation counselor.
Text messaging, which is geared toward teens and young adults, is another way to stay motivated. You can sign up for text messages that will provide encouragement and advice around the clock. Register for text messaging service at the Smoke Free website.
In the digital world we live in, you can even find support on the Internet. There are several smoking cessation programs you can access online, each with their own steps for quitting. After logging on and registering, you will have access to various online tools to help you quit smoking. These may include checklists, tips, lessons, and community forums. Some online smoking cessation programs are free, while others require paid membership. Here are some programs you may want to learn more about:
Ex: Re-learn Life Without Cigarettes, National Alliance for Tobacco Cessation
This is a free program aimed at sharing the latest research as well as personal stories from ex-smokers to encourage you to quit. The site helps you design your own quit plan. You can also find online community support by joining online groups and participating in interactive blogs.
Freedom From Smoking, American Lung Association
Mirrored after an in-person counseling program, this online version uses modules containing different lessons to help you quit smoking.
Smoke Free, National Cancer Institute
This website does not offer a formal online program. However, it is a comprehensive website that provides several avenues to quit smoking. The idea is for you to choose the ones that best fit your needs, such as a step-by-step printable guide or mobile device application.
There's an App for That
That's a familiar phrase to many. If you're trying to quit smoking, you can use your smartphone to help you. There are several free apps that will help you on your quest to quit smoking. Just use a basic word search in your operating system's app store, download it to your device, and you will be on your way.
If you are employed, check if your worksite offer programs to help smokers quit. Many workplaces do. In fact, since you are likely not the only smoker at work, many workplaces actually create competitions to reward individual smokers and teams of smokers who have the best quitting record. Sounds corny? Perhaps, but when combined with other interventions, such as the counseling and nicotine replacement, competition really does increase the quit rate.
Quitting benefits you and your employer's bottom lines. Healthier nonsmokers cost their employer less money in medical bills and sick days. To recoup expenses, many employers take more out of a smoker's paycheck for their monthly insurance contributions. If you quit or seek out worksite programs, you can take home more money in your paycheck.
Spirituality and Smoking Cessation
Studies suggest that smokers are less likely to attend religious ceremonies or engage in other organized spiritual activities than are nonsmokers. Many people report that they would like to return to a more spiritual life, but have not made the effort or commitment to do so. It is uncertain that your quitting efforts will be enhanced through regular religious attendance, prayer, or scriptural studies. And scientists have not yet proven these benefits. However, if you otherwise have an interest in pursuing more of these activities than you currently do, you will likely find yourself among people relatively less likely to be smokers. You may also find—as do people with other addictions—that cultivating spiritual values assists in breaking harmful habits.
- Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
- Reviewed: 04/2017
- Updated: 04/18/2017
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