Coaching Helps Tobacco Users Quit

What does it take to quit using tobacco? How can a coach help? To provide some insight into how our coaches help smokers and other tobacco users through the quit process, we’ve put together the following behind-the-scenes look. Our tobacco cessation coaching protocol includes four phone calls, often supplemented with nicotine replacement therapy. Individually or together, these two techniques greatly improve a person’s chances of a successful quit attempt.

The first call can be proactive (made by the coach) or require the participant to call in, depending on the preference of the client. At the end of each call, the coach and participant schedule a time for the next one and the coach makes that next call proactively.

On the first call, we ask the participant to talk about a typical day in their smoking world. (For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on smoking.) We determine how much they smoke, the environments, and the triggers. The participant may have to deal with other smokers in their lives or a relationship stressor that is hindering them from quitting. The coach adapts to the participant’s situation.

Together we explore why they want to stop smoking, what helps them curb the urge, and what doesn’t work. The participant will set a quit date and build a plan to prepare for that date. The coach explains how to use nicotine replacement therapy, such as a patch or gum.

The second call takes place after the quit date. By that point, the participant has often been using nicotine replacement for a couple of days. We see if they’re having any problems or questions. We also review their personal smoking triggers and how to avoid them.

Setting the Right Attitude

Self-doubt can be a big obstacle – when the individual thinks it’s impossible for them to quit. Once they realize they can just take it one step at a time, it’s more manageable. For the coach, it’s gratifying just to see them have the moment when they realize that they can do it.

We’re all born with the strength and desire to keep trying. But some people who have tried to quit smoking and didn’t succeed will see it as a failure, when really they should see it as a learning process. Almost anything we do requires some practice.

We sometimes tell the participant that there is a difference between wanting to quit and committing to quit. A lot of people want to quit. But some of them are not willing to give up a key behavior or explore that part of themselves that gets in the way of successfully quitting.

Strategies That Help People Quit

Our coaches have many tips and strategies that can help people get past the urge to take tobacco. One tip is to prepare a list of things to do when temptation strikes. Then, at the moment they’re tempted to smoke, they can look at the list and have 10 fun things to select from that will get them past that moment. Another technique is deep breathing. Smokers are so used to breathing in from cigarettes that just a few deep breathes can really help them reach their end goal.

Why Do People Quit?

Our coaches hear great reasons all day long. Many of the reasons are quite simple, others more dramatic. One participant wanted to quit because he was writing an obituary for a family member who had passed away from lung cancer. He said he was overwhelmed when he realized he had been smoking for just as long as the person who had died. It made him think about who would write his obituary. He didn’t want to put his family through that. Another was a young mother whose baby, who had asthma, had been to the hospital several times because smoke exposure caused the child to go into respiratory arrest. The mother didn’t really want to stop smoking. But she had decided her child’s health was more important.

Another woman told us she was going through treatment for cancer. A year later, she called to let us know that she was in remission for her cancer and still smoke free. She made several changes in her lifestyle to become healthier. She said that instead of just giving up with the cancer and telling herself it was over, she had successfully given up smoking, started eating healthier and was exercising to take better care of herself.

Whatever reason may be most pertinent to the smoker, our coaches help them embrace that motivation and use it to successfully quit.