The 5 Stages of Smoking Cessation: How Can You Help?
Called by some the most abusive relationship they will ever be in, smoking proves difficult to stop for even the most determined individuals.
Smokers will usually experience 5 stages of smoking cessation. Each stage has its own unique issues and challenges.
Precontemplation (no consideration for cessation)
These individuals may have attempted smoking cessation in the past and experienced failure. Or they may simply think that their addiction is too strong and their will too weak. Excuses and defensive behavior will often surface in these individuals as they are simply not interested in quitting.
It is still important to encourage smokers at this stage towards cessation. At appropriate times, communicating health risks may prove beneficial.
Contemplation (considering quitting)
During this stage, smokers have become aware of the personal consequences of smoking and may even be considering quitting within the near future. However, this does not always mean that they are ready to quit.
Information is key during this stage. Provide the individual with health fact and statistics concerning the risks of smoking. Also strive to help them identify the barriers that may be preventing them from quitting.
Preparation (getting ready to quit)
This stage marks a considerable change in the smoker’s mindset. They have made the decision to quit and may even be taking small steps towards quitting smoking. There is most likely a date for quitting and possibly even a plan to do so.
This stage brings much excitement. Others helping the individual can build on this excitement to create momentum and determination. Continue to provide statistics and health-risk information. Also offer proven methods, steps and systems for the actual cessation process. This is a great time to encourage the individual with specific positive results that they will see in the future from their decision to quit.
The hardest stage to walk through, quitting will stretch most smokers beyond what they thought possible. In this stage we see the active attempt for smoking cessation. Short term rewards can be helpful during this time. The support of family, friends, and co-workers is highly important in this stage.
It is important for smokers to have an action plan for dealing with internal and external stresses involved in the cessation process. Shower them with encouragement and accountability.
The last stage of smoking cessation lasts for as long as the smoking cravings exist. The smoker learns ways to continually handle temptations. This stage involves the smoker developing a slightly altered identity. Many former smokers relied on smoking to help them cope with stress, boredom and anxiety. Their personal identity became hard to distinguish apart from the nicotine. Therefore, those who have successfully ceased smoking must learn new ways of dealing with life’s pressures. They must develop a different identity from the previous “smoker identity”.
During this stage, they benefit from continued encouragement, expressed feelings of pride in their accomplishment and understanding for their still existent cravings or perhaps even occasional relapses. This is a great time to encourage them to pick up an activity that they enjoy and may have never had the energy to do. It’s also helpful to ask them what situations cause greater cravings and strive to help avoid those situations.
People dealing with smoking addiction may experience these stages of smoking cessation in various levels of intensity. Some individuals will walk through these steps numerous times, as life circumstances may lead them to pick smoking back up after having quit.
Regardless, continue to offer support, encouragement, and helpful information concerning the health risks they are placing upon themselves. To walk through the stages of quitting smoking, the determination must come from the individual themselves; no amount of force will induce a lasting change.
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