• Support for Smokers Wanting to Quit

    Image for support groups article 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.

    In-Person Counseling

    Counselors (also called coaches) can be excellent resources, providing strategies to quit as well as motivation. Coaches can work with you one-on-one or in group settings with other smokers. If you are taking medicines to help you quit, pairing your medicines with counseling can increase your chances of quitting. Your health insurance and Medicare may also cover counseling sessions.
    During your sessions, you and your coach 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 coach 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 coach 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 coach, 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 coach in person, talking to someone over the telephone may be just as helpful. You can find a list of quit lines for the United States and Canada at http://map.naquitline.org/. 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.
    For those who prefer text messaging, there is a counselor for you too! Services, such as LiveHelp, provide information and advice about quitting through real-time text messaging with a smoking cessation counselor. You can learn more about this service at https://cissecure.nci.nih.gov/livehelp/welcome.asp, or visit http://smokefree.gov/.

    Internet Programs

    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.

    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.

    Worksite Programs

    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! And there is economic benefit to employers too, since healthier nonsmokers cost their workplaces less in medical premiums and bills.

    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.

    RESOURCES

    American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/

    American Lung Association http://www.lungusa.org/

    National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/

    Smokefree.gov http://www.smokefree.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/

    The Lung Association http://www.lung.ca/

    References

    A guide to quit smoking methods. Smokefree.gov website. Available at: http://whatworkstoquit.tobacco-cessation.org/NTCCguide.pdf. Accessed June 8, 2011.

    How to quit smoking. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lungusa.org/stop-smoking/how-to-quit/. Accessed June 8, 2011.

    McFadden D, Croghan IT, Piderman KM, et al. Spirituality in tobacco dependence: a Mayo Clinic survey. Explore (NY). 2011 May-Jun;7(3):162-167.

    Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendations for worksite-based interventions to improve workers' health. Am J Prev Med. 2010 Feb;38(2 Suppl):S232-S236.

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