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Smoking in the Family


My dad has been smoking for a long time. It really worries me. I'm afraid he might get cancer or something. How can I help him? I know I can pray, but is there anything else I can do?

Steve Answers:

You're right on track. The most potent thing you can do is pray! When you pray it affects your dad, and it affects you, too. It also impacts the great unseen battle between Christ and Satan. When you pray you're talking to the God of the universe (see James 5:16-18 if you doubt it).

You've asked if there's anything else you can do. I'd say yes. Let your dad know about your worry. Don't lecture him. But let him know that since you love him and value the security he provides for you and your family, you want him to be around a long time. There is little doubt today that smoking shortens a person's life. If your dad knows you want him to stop, it can make a difference.

Another key is whether or not your dad even wants to stop smoking. Some people do and some don't. Some have tried to stop in the past and don't think they have a chance to do so anymore. They lack hope.

Some people are able to stop smoking instantly and never return to it. That's a wonderful miracle! Most need additional help and support to follow through on their decision. That support is needed in two areas.

The first area is nicotine withdrawal. That's the incredible craving a smoker's body has developed to keep nicotine coming into their system. If a person goes two to three days without smoking, the nicotine withdrawal leaves, because by then the drug is washed out of their system. Drinking lots of fluids and exercising help during this time.

But perhaps the most important help comes from a support person who will keep encouraging the former smoker when waves of nicotine withdrawal crash on them. This hits a person and then goes away, only to return again, then leave. That support person (maybe you?) can help get the former smoker through those initial two to three days.

The second area is the psychological crutch or habit that smoking provided. Many get past the nicotine withdrawal and think they have smoking beat. But then they get depressed or end up in a situation where they always smoked in the past. They return to their well-established habit pattern, and the nicotine gets back into their system. This second area calls for help from the support person also.

Some suggest that God can be that support person. God is certainly able to do that. However, many sense God's support even more intensely when somebody like you provides God's support in person, too.

In summary, here are some steps:

1. Pray.
2. Share your concerns with the person who is hurting themselves.
3. Realize that the person with the destructive behavior must want to stop.
4. Support that person as God becomes real.

By the way, this information applies to teens who want to stop smoking also. In fact, it applies to most destructive behaviors that destroy us and take us away from God. So why not try it in your own life too?

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