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Meeting Challenges along the Way

Many people hit bumps on their journey to quitting smoking. Dealing with these obstacles is an important part of helping someone quit for good.

Gaining Weight

Some smokers gain weight when they stop smoking, but the average is only seven to 10 pounds. Even with this weight gain, they will be much better off health-wise than they would be if they continued to smoke. Balancing the right amount and variety of foods with physical activity is the best way to control weight during the quitting process. Some things you can do to help:

  • Have low-fat snacks such as carrots, fresh fruit, plain popcorn or sugarless gum around.
  • Do active things together where smoking doesn't fit in. Swimming, jogging or brisk walking are great choices.

Handling Urges to Smoke

People who succeed in quitting are often the ones who plan how to cope with smoking urges. Encourage your friend by helping him or her think up some simple things to do when an urge to smoke arises. Your friend might:

  • Call you when he or she feels the urge to smoke. Remind your friend that the urge will pass in just three to five minutes, whether they smoke a cigarette or not!
  • Leave the situation that makes your friend want to smoke. For example, being at a party where alcohol is served may make your friend want a cigarette. When the urge arises, they could walk around the block or better yet, stay away from parties and alcohol for the first few weeks.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Many smokers have withdrawal symptoms during the first few weeks after they quit. Some common ones are:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling anxious or restless

Your friend may be grouchy, irritable, nervous or pushy. Try not to take it personally. Know that these are symptoms and that they will not last. They will go away in time. A week or two may seem like a long time when you're not feeling well, but it will get better.

Outlasting Your Friend's Addiction

Your friend is trying to break an addiction to cigarettes that may have started in his or her teens. Be prepared for some unfriendly or even nasty behavior; your friend is going through a tough time. Even if they're acting badly, tell them you care and do what you can to help.  The bad times won't last long, but the benefits of quitting last forever.

Encourage your friend to talk about how he or she is feeling and listen to what they say. Give your undivided attention.

    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed March 7, 2019.

    Page Last Updated: April 4, 2019

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