How To Best Support A Loved One As They Try To Quit Smoking

People can struggle with many addictions, from shopping or alcohol to binge eating. Some people even need help finding the best way to give up diet soda. But smoking cigarettes is perhaps one of the most difficult addictions to kick. Nicotine releases dopamine in the brain, causing feelings of happiness that people crave. As the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reports, cigarettes can provide a nicotine hit in as little as 20 seconds. This can quickly alter a smoker's mood and create a highly addictive experience, not unlike the physical dependence experienced by users of harder drugs like cocaine.


When a person has their first cigarette, they aren't thinking about how hard it will be to kick the habit. By the time they decide to stop smoking, it is likely too late to do so easily. For these reasons, it is very important to support a loved one fully if they are trying to quit. Knowing how to best encourage someone you love as they navigate this difficult endeavor is essential to their success. So here's how to be the support system your friends and family need when it comes time to give up smoking.

Emphasize progress over perfection

First and foremost, help your friend remember that quitting this addiction will be a process. Whether your loved one is trying to quit cold turkey, by using nicotine patches, or through hypnosis, no recovery is a perfect process. Cheer them on in their efforts and be there to support them when they succeed as much as when they fail. Stay away from words that shame or nag the person you love and focus more on encouragement. Don't doubt their abilities, offer advice, or take it personally when their moods change. The addiction is incredibly hard to kick, but faith and patience on your end can help them reach success (via


Another thing that may motivate your addicted loved one is doing your research and showing them what happens if they quit smoking for a day, a month, or a year. This provides reachable milestones along the way. For instance, after just one month without smoking, lung functions and circulation improve (via Orlando Health). Every day is a new opportunity to heal from the damage nicotine has done to their body. If you smoke, UT Southwestern Medical Center even suggests quitting at the same time as your friend, partner, or family member. This way, you both benefit from accountability and camaraderie in the journey to cleaner living.

Help them build a new lifestyle

If the addicted person slips up, it's even more important to be their cheerleader and helper. As Medline Plus points out, most people have a few setbacks when trying to quit smoking, so remind them not to be too hard on themselves. Instead, take steps to help them begin again. Determine the places where they smoke the most, and get rid of all evidence of cigarettes. Thoroughly clean smoking areas like their car, bedroom, or front porch. Remove ashtrays, lighters, and, of course, packages of cigarettes. Instead, make those areas new with fresh décor and clean surfaces. Finally, help them establish new habits. For example, brushing their teeth instead of grabbing a cigarette will can not only keep an oral fixation occupied — it will also help undo smoking damage to their teeth (via Colgate).


Quitting smoking will be one of the toughest things your loved one will do. Nicotine dependence may even be harder to kick than heroin (via the University of California San Francisco). But by finding ways to best support your loved one, you can aid in their success and assure that the cigarettes are put out for good.