12 advices for caregivers.

Someone comes to visit you and has a smoking problem. How best to act then as a caregiver? Here are some tips and information that you can discuss with the smoker. The order in which you do this is important but should of course depend upon the situation, the time you can spend on it and your own preference. As counselor, try to believe 100% in what you say.

Of course, it is not the intention to make someone stop smoking with this advice. It is, however the intention to give something to someone in a rational way, that enables him to increase his own chances of success.

Remember that smoking is the biggest killer. The time you spend on it is worthwhile, especially if you feel that something of your explanation catches on well. The smokers who feel even a little bit helped, will be thankful to you.

1. The addiction to cigarettes is mainly (+/- 90% if you want to put a number) psychological. Nobody can make oneself directly hooked (in the sense of: "And today I'm going to be addicted”). It is primarily a non-conscious phenomenon.

2. The nicotine (in itself +/- 10% of the addiction) works mainly as a lever for the psychological addiction. The subconscious gets +/- 20 times per day, every day, the message that nicotine makes you feel better.

3. The use of willpower to stop leads to a fight with yourself, and even with your own subconscious. This is very powerful. Better make your own subconscious into a friend than an enemy. Therefore, use willpower only indirectly, to bring yourself to continue working on your motivation.

4. Smoking a cigarette doesn’t make you feel ‘better’ than someone who does not smoke. It just helps to feel less bad, whereby the ‘bad feeling’ that is improved by the cigarette, in the mid term is increased by the smoking itself. The 'good feelings' of a cigarette are mainly caused by the removal of the withdrawal of the last cigarette. They are maximum after 20-30 minutes, the time at which a chain smoker feels the need for a new cigarette.

5. The physical addiction to nicotine is totally gone in 2-3 days after quitting smoking. The withdrawal symptoms that still remain then, result purely from the psychological addiction. If you reduce this in advance, you also are less burdened by withdrawal symptoms.

6. Motivation is extremely important. Not only knowing what your own motivations are, but also experience them. E.g.: take health as motivation. What does health mean to you? When do you feel healthy, i.e. when do you enjoy it? – For instance while walking, doing sports – Then think of it at such times and enjoy the fact that without cigarettes you could enjoy it more and longer.

7. The subconscious is usually a little sensitive to negative motivation. Deterrence by pointing to the dangers in this sense makes little difference. It remains nonetheless important that people know the dangers associated with smoking. Give this information in a businesslike tone. A deterrent tone makes the ‘gate of the subconscious' close in response. So be unemotional, but decided.

8. The subconscious is always very sensitive to positive, living motivations. Every negative motivation can also be expressed positively in its opposite. E.g. make “it costs a lot” into something like “by stopping you can spend more money on something that you really enjoy doing." Imagine yourself well in that you actually do this. The more concrete your imagination, the greater the effect.

9. Don’t make half-hearted attempts to quit. Work hard in advance on your own motivations and stop when you have for yourself the 'certainty' that you will be able to quit smoking fairly easily.

10. Don’t focus long in advance on a fixed time to quit smoking. If you fix a time (e.g. tomorrow or next week), then do this only if you feel that you have a great chance of success.

11. See relapse not as a failure but as a step on the way toward the final quitting. A relapse can teach you. Next time, give even more attention to living your own motivations.

12. Young people are, despite what they claim, very receptive to role models. As a smoker, you have to be constantly aware that you induce others, especially young people, to become and stay addicted. Everyone shares this responsibility.