Smoking Relapse? How to Get Back on Track

Experiencing a slip-up is normal. If you have a setback on your quitting journey, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s best to accept it and move on. There are lots of things you can do to get yourself back on track. Here are some of our top tips.

Get Back on Track

Quitting smoking is a process – not a single event. Many quitters will at some point slip up and have a cigarette, or even relapse entirely back into smoking. The important point, is that relapsing is very common, and it can often take a handful of attempts to stop smoking for good. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place for dealing with a relapse, so you can get back on track successfully.

Positive Thinking

When you relapse, it’s important to remain positive. Try to focus on all the progress you’ve made so far, even if you didn’t reach your quit goal. Quitting smoking is difficult, and even going a matter of minutes or hours without a cigarette should be considered an achievement.

It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone. Most quitters will at some point relapse, whether it’s during the first few days of quitting, or some months after taking the decision to stop.

In fact, it takes most smokers 3-5 attempts before quitting successfully. You can achieve your quitting goal – you just have to be persistent!

When you experience a relapse, it can be helpful to remind yourself of why you wanted to quit in the first place. Was it to improve your health? To save money? Or are you doing it for your loved ones? Whatever your reasons, try to use them in order to re-discover your motivation. It can also be helpful to make a list of your reasons so you can refer back to them when you’re struggling with your cravings.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Every quit attempt is a learning opportunity. Smoking cessation takes practice and persistence, so it’s important to think about what you found difficult, and what led you to slip up. In order to really learn from your previous attempt, consider writing down what happened – this will help you to get a better idea of where you went wrong, and how you can correct it next time. Once you’ve thought about the situations in which you’re most likely to be tempted, try to avoid them while you’re getting through the initial stages of your quitting journey. This might involve steering clear of places where it’s easy to ask someone for a cigarette, or even temporarily avoiding smokers entirely.

Make a Plan

Quitters are most at risk of relapsing during the first few weeks after stopping. That’s why it’s useful to put a plan in place that will help you avoid your triggers and get the support you need. Since being around other smokers is the most common cause of relapsing, it’s helpful to think about how you might avoid these situations – particularly in the first few weeks of your attempt. Similarly, it’s important to think about how you will avoid other common triggers like stress, alcohol, and emotional events.

Whilst it’s difficult to avoid all triggers during your attempt, you can certainly plan for them, and try to limit your exposure.

Finally, it’s also worth thinking about additional support you might need for your next attempt. For instance, if you attempted to quit cold turkey, it might be worth looking into NRT, or consulting your GP or local stop smoking service.

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