Preventing a Relapse When Quiting Smoking


For most people who smoke, the habit of smoking is intricately interwoven in their daily life. They light up a cigarette when they are happy, bored, excited, lonely, depressed or in company. Nicotine is addictive but what makes trying to quit smoking even more difficult is the psychological dependence smokers develop on their habit of lighting up a cigarette before confronting their life.

When trying to quit smoking, motivation is the real key to success. A person must be convinced that smoking is an expensive, unhealthy and addictive habit which endangers his life and of those around him. Like giving up any other addiction, there is little chance of success, unless the smoker himself is convinced that he wants to kick this habit for good.

However, this is easier said than done. Many people spend a lot of time trying to quit smoking and then failing miserably. They fully realize the negative health consequences of this habit but give in to the urge to light up a cigarette time and again. This is known as a relapse in which a smoker returns to regular smoking after he has tried to quit.

While trying to give up smoking, it is very important to know the reasons of relapses and plan out an effective strategy to counter them. Relapses usually occur due to poor emotional state, personal conflicts, social pressure etc. Any one of these reasons is usually enough to cause a relapse when trying to give up smoking.

♦ Know the triggers: A person must make sure that he is aware of the situations that put him most at risk of a relapse. Then he should devise a plan for the main triggers. These triggers should either be avoided completely or a method must be found to cope with them. For example, if smoking is done for relaxing or to reduce tension, then healthier substitutes must be found. Taking up a sport or exercising, gardening, swimming or going for long walks can reduce tensions.

♦ Keep hands busy: Keeping hands occupied with doodling, knitting or playing an instrument might also take care of cravings and serve as distractions. Sitting idly can also cause an urge to start smoking so keeping yourself busy and occupied certainly helps in preventing a relapse.

♦ Stay focused: When trying to give up smoking, the focus should only be on this resolution. One should not try to lose weight or make any other life changing decisions that can distract and derail the efforts. If someone is planning to move to a new state or start a new business, then this not the best time to give up smoking.

♦ Make it hard to smoke: When going out to eat in a restaurant, choose a smoke-free area. Do not keep cigarettes at home, office, cars etc. Always sit in no-smoking areas in buses, trains, planes and waiting areas. Get rid of all the things that remind you of smoking like ash-trays, lighters, cigar-boxes etc.

♦ Gather support: Hang around with non smokers. If you have friends who smoke, avoid their company especially if you have recently quit smoking. Join a fitness club or a support group. Keep in close contact with those who support your efforts like family, friends and your doctor. Sign up on anti smoking websites and if you feel your resolve crumbling just pick up the phone and call a support hotline.

♦ Go back to abstinence at once: If you make a slip and smoke a cigarette, resolve to go back to abstinence at once. Do not be critical or consider yourself a failure. Make a list of all the reasons why you had quit smoking in the first place and keep it in a place where you can review it often.

It is important to remind yourself that it is never too late to quit smoking. Even if you have smoked for 20-30 years, you will benefit from not smoking for the rest of your life. After a relapse, you can gain motivation to try quitting smoking again from the fact that by not smoking, both your life expectancy and quality of life can be enhanced. By trying once again you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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