Quitting smoking takes everything you have — all your focus, energy, and resolve. But once you’re “over the hump” and not fighting daily to stay tobacco free, you might let your guard down.
Maybe you’ll be hanging out with friend who smoke and think: I’m not addicted anymore. I can handle a puff.
Maybe after a stressful workday you’ll rationalize: What’s the harm? I’ve got 2 years tobacco free.
Maybe you’ll reward yourself for quitting by having “just one cigarette.”
Beware! Just when you think you’re no longer vulnerable to relapse — well, that’s when you are most vulnerable, especially if you’re drinking alcohol or dealing with stress or illness.
I’ve known former smokers who relapsed a decade or more after quitting. One woman, who’d quit smoking at age 28 relapsed at age 48! In the interim, she’d become a diehard non-smoker repulsed by the odor of cigarettes. Then one day, while at a bar on vacation, she impulsively bummed a smoke in a bar, figuring: I’m in control. This isn’t a problem.
Soon she was smoking a pack a day and trying to hide her addiction from her family. It was another five years before she quit for good.
As an ex-smoker, you must live by the NOPE rule: Not one puff ever.
Here are 5 ways to stop yourself from taking that fateful first puff.
- Notice the moment risky thoughts surface, so you can act before your judgment gets too clouded. Tell yourself: I can feel myself heading down the wrong path!
- Text or call a friend to talk you out of it.
- Wear a rubber band or other reminder around your wrist. When temptation bubbles up, tug on the band to snap yourself back to reality.
- Keep a counter-argument in your wallet or on your phone. For example: “Quitting has saved me $4,000 a year” or “I can keep up with my grandson!”
- Visualize yourself as a smoker again: You’re worried about flight delays, how your clothes smell, whether you have enough cigarettes. Now imagine starting the quitting process over again.
Have you relapsed after taking “just one puff”? Tell us your story!