10 Things to Do When You Experience a Relapse

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Majority of smokers who tried to quit experienced a relapse. Having the same experience must not discourage you. Instead learn from your mistakes and do better and succeed the next time. It can take several tries before you can quit smoking for good. This doesn’t mean however that you won’t take relapse seriously – just don’t be too harsh to yourself. You can always prevent a relapse.



How do you prevent a relapse?The hand rejects cigarette

But before getting into the details, let’s find out first why smokers or former smokers experience a relapse. The answer is – cravings. Smokers or former smokers experience a strong urge to smoke when they quit smoking especially during the first few months. This is because nicotine has the bad habit of messing with how your brain and body works. Smokers become dependent to nicotine, this means when the nicotine level in your body drops you start to feel the urge to smoke – your body craves for it and experiences the withdrawal symptoms. Some of the common signs are restlessness, headaches, and that uncontrollable craving to light a cigarette. Even if, you can successfully overcome these symptoms, the craving is always there. So how do you fight the craving to smoke and prevent a relapse?

There are several ways, but one of the best ways is combining smoking cessation aids and changing your daily routines, and identifying your triggers.

Changing your daily routine and using smoking cessation aids lessen your chance of having a relapse. Smoking cessation aids such as NRTs (nicotine patches, gums, sprays, etc.) and prescription drugs (Chantix) can help ease the common withdrawal symptoms and help curb the cravings.

Identifying your smoking triggers is also very important in your effort to quit. Is drinking coffee or

Seeing someone smoke makes you feel like lighting up? If so, this might be among your triggers. Avoid them. If seeing someone smoke triggers your cravings, avoid places where smokers normally hangout, like bars or avoid the smoking areas in your office.

Also, changing your routines allows you to avoid your common triggers, like having a cup of coffee, eating a sumptuous meal, or drinking alcoholic drinks. SO instead of drinking coffee, have a tea or milk instead.


What to do if you had a relapse?

  1. Don’t give up. Continue with your effort. If you have a few cigarettes in your pocket – throw them away.
  2. Remind yourself of the reasons why you want to quit.
  3. Look for support. You can either seek professional help or counseling, or you can simply ask your friends or family for help.
  4. Stay focus. If you cannot refuse the craving, at least compel yourself to delay it for one or two hours, and decide later if you really want to smoke.
  5. Make it hard for you to light up. Don’t bring a lighter with you. If you have to smoke, just buy one cigarette at a time, never buy in packs.
  6. Continue using NRT or the prescription drug as advised by your physician.
  7. Learn from your mistakes and avoid them.
  8. Stay positive. In time you can quit smoking for good.
  9. Get back on track as soon as possible. Set a new quitting date.
  10. Talk to your quit smoking advisor for any possible adjustment in your quit smoking program.

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