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Later relapse

You’ve chosen a method that works for you and you’re past daily cravings but you’ve found yourself smoking again. This is not uncommon. It means you’re likely to be very close to being quit for good. Book a Quitline call for extra support this time round. Think through the circumstances around the relapse and what you can learn from it.

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Common relapse scenarios:

  • Strong negative emotion or major stress
    • Once you’ve been quit for a while you begin to master day-to-day life stress. Major stressful events that are rare or unexpected, like a death in the family or a relationship break-up, can surprise you with sudden thoughts of smoking. Remind yourself of the benefits of staying quit and the ways you’ve managed stress in the short term (e.g. deep breathing, muscle relaxation).
    • Remember, having “just one” cigarette doesn’t work because nicotine is very addictive and there is no safe level of smoking. Remind yourself that these sudden urges to smoke are rare once you have been quit for a while.
  • Old smoking situations
    • Returning to past situations where you used to smoke, like an old workplace or an area where you lived, can cause an urge to smoke. Once you’ve gotten through the withdrawal, you are no longer addicted to nicotine. Expect these cravings to happen and see them for what they are – just memories of smoking – and let them pass. See managing routines .
  • Cravings as memories
    • With time the urge to smoke will slowly fade to something that is more like a memory or fleeting thought (which is more manageable). There is the possibility you will feel an urge to smoke in times of crisis but otherwise it’s a positive step to begin to label cravings as memories – a sign of regaining control.
  • Curiosity
    • Sometimes people smoke again, long after quitting, just because they’re curious. They may wonder what one cigarette might be like. Once you’ve been a smoker, one cigarette out of the blue has a very powerful effect on the brain which can awaken an old desire to smoke regularly. It’s best to be aware of these thoughts and treat them the same way you dealt with an urge to smoke in the first few days of quitting – distract yourself and move on. You’re a nonsmoker now.

Book a Quitline call to discuss plans to get back on track.

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