A smoking relapse can happen to anyone. You may have a gone a few months without smoking, but then one night for some unknown reason, you are out with friends and you decide to bum a smoke.
If this has happened to you, know you are not alone. It is common for many people that quit smoking not to achieve long-term abstinence on their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd try. Mark Twain is reported to have said, “Quitting smoking is easy: I've done it thousands of times.” In fact the average number of quit attempts is 30 times.
When relapse occurs, it is common for people to feel depressed and identify themselves as a failure. BUT you are not a failure. The truth is quitting smoking is hard work!!! Remind yourself to FORGIVE and ACCEPT that this is a challenge but to keep working towards your goal.
Reflect and re-frame your relapse. Think of it as an opportunity to gain more insight into your smoking behaviors and habits. Examine the things that have worked for you during past quit attempts and make a list. Simultaneously, make a list of the things that did not work so well or put you at risk to smoke. All of this Information can be used to better prepare, better plan, and better manage your next quit. Staying focused on “I’m a failure” makes it easy to stay stuck, as that colors the whole mind set and can cloud your vision.
Just like learning a new skill, staying quit takes practice and persistence --- the most important thing is that you keep TRYING! Think of quitting like learning to ride a bike. You are likely to fall off a few times, but the only way to learn how to ride is to get back up and keep attempting until you are successful. I love this analogy demonstrated well on YouTube, it truly gets at not only the complexity of learning this skill but how your brain can adapt the new changes.
REMIND yourself WHY you are QUITTING and Keep Going Until You’re Smoke-Free
Heather Kraling-Coons, MA
Reference: Chaiton, M., Diemert, L., Cohen, J. E., Bondy, S. J., Selby, P., Philipneri, A. & Schwartz, R. (2016). Estimating the number of quit attempts it takes to quit smoking successfully in a longitudinal cohort of smokers. BMJ Open, 6 (e011045).