I wrote the following as a response a couple of years back to someone asking the question: "Why is it harder to quit this time?" I think it would make a good stand-alone blog, so I'm re-presenting it. When you get to a certain point, it's easier to stay quit than to quit anew. I hope this might help those who have a quit in progress to better understand why slips and relapses are so harmful. And I hope it helps to keep you in safe waters.
"Why is it harder to quit this time?"
I think it's because the first time we quit it's new and a rather exciting adventure. We also don't know what we're in for. With each successive time, however, the psychological tricks don't work as well - they lose some of their effectiveness. Here's an analogy: my aunt and uncle went to Tahiti and had one of the most amazing times of their lives. They enjoyed it so much, several years later they went again. But the bloom was off the rose, so to speak. The repeat was not nearly as exciting as the initial experience, because they had already seen the hula dancers, and taken the ukulele lessons, received the leis, done all those touristy things. Part of the thrill and charm of an experience is it's first-time uniqueness. First ride in a hot air balloon is amazing. I would imagine the 10th, not quite the same.
When I quit back in my early 20's I spent time getting my head in the right place for it. I thought of it as a spiritual growth process. It wasn't that I wanted to rid myself of the slavery of the addiction (I didn't even know it WAS an addiction) but rather that I wanted to OVERCOME my weakness and feel empowered. I knew that in order to do so would take a great deal of self analysis. I turned it into an exciting challenge and that challenge was motivation enough. And I stayed smoke free for over a year.
But with each successive quit attempt it became more difficult to "get it up" psychologically. That's one of the penalties of relapse. And that's been quite a motivator for me this time around. That's why I coined the phrase Day Won, Never Another Day One.
So what do you do if it seems harder this time to quit? Well you must discover and develop new ways to motivate yourself. Hanging out in this support group is one great tool. Reading, increasing your knowledge base, communicating with others and holding yourself accountable are all part of the umph that can help push and pull you through. For we need both the push and the pull I think.
So, rather than trying to figure out why it's harder, try to figure out how to make it less hard. That's part of your homework.