Social Media Helping Smokers Kick the Habit

by Dr. Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Every smoker knows that kicking the habit will greatly improve their health, but giving up the addiction is the hardest challenge they have to face. The numbers of smokers trying to quit is high showing that they do know the detrimental effects of smoking to their health. Many have tried several quit-methods unsuccessfully, but they key to quitting is never giving up and trying out different combinations of quit-methods to find a successful one. A paper published recently in the Journal of Communication showed that smokers who actively engaged in social networking site forums geared towards quitting were likely to kick the habit.
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University of Georgia’s Joe Phua conducted a study focusing on social networking sites which offered health-based support to members who are trying to quit smoking. He found that the members of these sites built a sense of community and they also began to identify strongly with each other building a sense of trust. This in turn helped them receive and give much needed social support which is highly helpful in the journey to quit smoking. The social connectedness these groups form make it easier for the members to quit smoking.

Why Forums on Social Networking Sites Help Smokers Quit

The groups of people who actively use these social networking sites showed likelihood to abstain from smoking longer, because of the sense of self-efficacy they developed. The groups offer smokers a forum where they can share and receive help from like-minded people. The forums provide an almost round the clock online companionship to members since they can access them when they need the support. For instance, when in tempting situations such as out at a party or drinking with friends and the urge to smoke surfaces all a member needs to do is get online and seek help from the forum. Since members of the forum have formed a strong bond and know each others weaknesses and strengths; they will be able to offer practical help and advice to any member in a tempting situation.


DID YOU KNOW?

A 2008 study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota showed that personalized web programs nearly double a patient’s chances of quitting compared to a control group.


How to Best Use Social Networking Sites to Quit


You can also use social networking sites to quit smoking but there are a few things that you should do to get the most out of these forums. The most important thing is to be active in any forum you join through social networking sites. Participate in discussions, answer questions from other members if you have helpful information to offer, speak up with other members through chat and also share you own struggles and achievements on the journey to quit. Encourage your friends and family members who are also trying to quit smoking to join these forums so that you can have access to an even stronger social support system. It is also important to be mindful of other people’s opinions and be careful when it comes to what information you choose to absorb. Remember that when it comes to quitting smoking, one size does not fit all. Use social networking site forums for social support as opposed to a standalone quit-method.


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