In this counseling answer:
• It is important to remember that you cannot make a loved one quit smoking as ultimately the decision has to be theirs for success to be achieved.
• Try to be patient and supportive as your husband goes through the quitting process.
As-Salaam ’Alaikum Dear sister,
Thank you for your question. Smoking tobacco is both a psychological habit and a physical addiction. Whilst the act of smoking becomes a daily ritual, the nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary, but addictive high. For smokers, eliminating regular fixes of nicotine will cause them to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Therefore, to successfully quit smoking requires both the habit and the addiction to be changed.
As you are not the one with the problem, it is important to remember that you cannot make a loved one quit smoking as ultimately the decision has to be theirs for success to be achieved. But if they do make the decision to stop smoking, you can offer support and encouragement and try to ease the stress of quitting. It will not help your husband to hear you preach or judge; instead, you can help him overcome his cravings by pursuing other activities with him or by keeping smoking substitutes such as gum and candy on hand.
If he tries to make the change and then slips or relapses, don’t make him feel guilty but try to congratulate him on the time he went without smoking and encourage him to try again. Try to be patient and supportive as your husband goes through the quitting process. Most smokers will require several attempts to successfully quit for good. What might help the process is if you establish a smoke-free policy in your home and stop allowing anyone to smoke indoors at any time.
For your husband, the challenge will be to manage unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, fear, and anxiety as these are some of the most common reasons why adults smoke. When he has a bad day, he may turn to cigarettes as smoking can temporarily make feelings such as sadness, stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom dissipate. Therefore, encouraging your husband to remember that as much comfort as cigarettes provide. There are healthier and more effective ways to keep unpleasant feelings controlled including exercising, meditating, relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercise.
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Designing a personal plan based on his specific needs and desires to quit smoking may be a big help. Help your husband write a list of reasons why he should quit and then keep copies of the list in the places where he would normally keep his cigarettes, such as in his jacket or car. Do not make him list the reasons why YOU WANT HIM TO QUIT as he needs to make the decision himself. Some of the reasons he could list to motivate him may include:
- To feel healthier and have more energy, whiter teeth, and fresher breath.
- To lower the risk for cancer, heart attacks, strokes, early death, cataracts, and skin wrinkling.
- To make himself, friends, and family proud.
- To stop exposing his family and others to the dangers of second-hand smoke.
- To have more money to spend.
Your husband needs to identify the true nature of his dependency on his smoking habits to successfully detach from his smoking behavior. Questions that may help him identify this are:
- How often does he feel the need to smoke?
- Is he more of a social smoker?
- Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
- Is he interested in getting into a fitness program?
After quitting, it is normal to experience dizziness and restlessness or even have strong headaches because he will be lacking the immediate release of sugar that comes from nicotine. His appetite may also increase but these cravings should only last a few days until his body adjusts so it may help on those days by drinking plenty of juice to prevent the craving symptoms and help his body re-adjust back to normal. If friends, family, and co-workers smoke around him he may need to let them know they won’t be able to smoke when in his presence as it will be harder for him to resist the temptation. Other ways are to:
- Keep himself active, distracted and occupied i.e. by going for walks.
- Keep his hands/fingers busy: Squeeze balls, pencils, or paper clips are good substitutes to satisfy that need for tactile stimulation.
- Keep his mind busy: Read a book or magazine, listen to music.
- Find an oral substitute such as chewing gum or other things such as mints, hard candy, carrot or celery sticks, and sunflower seeds in his mouth when craving a cigarette.
- Drink lots of water: Flushing toxins from his body will minimize withdrawal symptoms and help cravings pass faster.
After quitting, he may complain of headaches, trouble sleeping, and difficulty in concentrating. However, these changes get better in 1 or 2 weeks as the toxins are flushed from his body and he finds other, healthy ways to manage his moods. Let friends and family know that he won’t be his usual self and ask for their understanding.
I hope the above information helps your husband.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.