If your partner is trying to quit smoking, there are many things you can do to help.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around
Having support can help people stop smoking. You play a greater role in your partner’s ability to quit than you might realize.
Consider these ways you can help your partner quit.
Many smokers already know the health risks of smoking. Still, the increased risks of lung cancer and heart disease may not be strong enough deterrents. The American Heart Association says that nicotine may be at least as addictive as cocaine and heroin.
However, some smokers don’t realize the emotional and physical damage their habit has on loved ones. Secondhand smoke is hazardous. Cigarettes can also be expensive.
You can put the effects of your partner’s smoking into perspective by doing the following:
- Provide a cost analysis. Then show them what your family could have with the money that’s spent on cigarettes over time, such as a vacation, new furniture, or a better car.
- Discuss how this habit isolates them and even you from social situations that don’t allow smoking.
- Express that you want to live a long life with them in it, and you’re concerned that their smoking won’t make that possible.
Many people who want to quit smoking turn to nicotine replacement products. They come in many forms, including:
These have their pros and cons.
They’re often costly, although these aids often end up being less expensive than cigarettes, especially if a heavy smoker is using them. They don’t always work, though, which can be discouraging for smokers. Relapses can happen.
Prescription medication is also available. It works by altering brain chemicals rather than offering nicotine replacement.
The American Thoracic Society (ATS) strongly recommends that all people who are quitting smoking and are dependent on tobacco start with the medication varenicline (Chantix).
The ATS recommends varenicline over nicotine patches and the prescription medication bupropion (Wellbutrin). Treatment should last for at least 12 weeks.
Perhaps one of the reasons why many smokers refrain from quitting is that they’re afraid of the withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- difficulty concentrating
- a reduced heart rate
- difficulty sleeping
- weight gain
- increased appetite
According to Smokefree.gov, around 80 to 90 percent of smokers have a physical addiction to nicotine.
Withdrawal symptoms can be stronger than the cravings for cigarettes. This means that your partner might still be going through physical withdrawal despite no longer emotionally craving nicotine.
Knowing this ahead of time can prepare you to expect withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to be patient during the period of withdrawal.
Distractions can go a long way in reducing cravings and treating withdrawal symptoms. If your partner needs a distraction from smoking, offer to do one of the following with them:
- play a game
- take a walk
- watch a movie
- cook a new meal
- take a class that involves handwork, such as painting
- work in the yard
Find something your partner enjoys that can distract them from the cravings. However, try to avoid going to places where there may be other smokers, such as concerts and bars.
You can also offer tips for your partner to try out when you’re not around, such as:
It’s important not to let any excitement you may be feeling set up unrealistic expectations. If your partner thinks you’re beginning to badger them, they may stop listening to you completely.
It’s important to approach the discussion in a measured way and know when you’ve said all you should for that day. Give your partner things to think about, and then let them come to you to talk about it when the time is right.
However, encouragement is important. Helping your partner is crucial to their success. After a while, they might lose momentum because there’s nothing to look forward to. Help them create rewards, such as:
- a date night
- going away for the weekend
- a shopping trip
- gift cards
- an encouraging handwritten note
While you can offer your partner a great deal of help, it’s also important to know when to seek outside resources.
If your partner is having a particularly difficult time and is having severe withdrawal symptoms, consider helping them find behavioral therapy.
Group therapy can also be helpful. It has the added benefit of offering social support from fellow smokers who want to quit. It can help reduce any strain on your relationship too.
There are apps and phone numbers to call for help as well.
Both Android and Apple offer free apps to track success. These might be especially helpful if your partner is a visual learner.
Don’t hesitate to call the
Perhaps the most important way you can help your partner quit smoking is to be supportive, especially on hard days.
Nicotine is a drug. A nicotine addiction can be emotionally and physically painful, especially as your partner encounters withdrawals and cravings.
Most smokers who try to quit aren’t successful on the first try. Quitting can require multiple attempts. Your understanding and continued support will make it more likely that your partner will keep trying and ultimately succeed.