Recovering from a Slip or Relapse

What happened? You were doing so well, pleased with the way your quit was going and then the next thing you know you’ve slipped. A relapse back to smoking is in the making. Now you’re feeling guilty, self critical and down right depressed; saying “It’s not a good time”, “I’m not ready yet”, “I’ve already smoked, so another one won’t make a difference.” Sound familiar? Slips and relapses are common in the quitting process. In fact, most smokers attempt quitting many times before being successful. Quitting smoking is a learning process and rarely a one-shot done deal. So, how do you recover and get back on track?

When a slip up occurs (slip = a puff or a couple of cigarettes) the best response is to stop smoking right away. Toss any cigarettes you may have on hand to remove any temptations to light up. A slip doesn’t mean you are a failure, so don’t use it as an excuse to pick up another cigarette! Try to figure out what made you slip up so you can handle it differently next time. Re-commit to quitting by thinking about all the reasons you quit in the first place. Have your reasons matter and motivate you enough to make quitting smoking the number one priority in your life right now. Focus on all the health benefits you enjoy now and in the future by not smoking. You’ll need to keep the big picture in mind. Gather support from your family, friends and the QuitNet community. View your slip as a loss in footing that can easily be regained by immediately picking yourself up and refocusing on your quit.

A relapse (relapse = go back to your "old ways" of smoking) is a wake up call that you are losing control of your quit.  It’s time to limit the damage, get rid of the smokes, reassess your quit plan and get back in the game. View your relapse as a teaching tool in quitting successfully. What triggering event or situation made you reach for the cigarette?  What quitting strategy could you have used instead? Are you complying with quit treatment recommendations?  Have the motivating reasons you wanted to stop smoking changed?  Did you reach out for support? Take the time to figure out what went wrong so you can fix it and move forward. Don’t allow self-pity or self-blame to enter the picture. Commend yourself for trying to quit! Every attempt to quit moves you closer to your success. 

Keep coming back, and KTQ,