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Expert offers hope for quitters who've slipped

Friday 5 January, 2001

If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of Australian smokers who made a New Year's resolution to quit, then there's a 40% chance you may have already had a 'slip up'. Research shows that around 40% of smokers slip up within 3 days of their quit attempt, and a further 30% slip up within two weeks of trying to quit.

Behavioural expert Dr Ron Borland says those who slip up often go back to smoking, but he also stresses this doesn't have to be the case.

'Those who have slipped should treat a slip up as a learning situation, and not an excuse to resume smoking.'

Dr Borland says some of the triggers for slip ups include being with other smokers, drinking alcohol, and accepting cigarettes from someone else.

'Situations likely to cause slip-ups vary with your life style and with the way you use cigarettes in your life,' he says.

For example, a mother at home with young children may slip up if she is stressed and in need of a break. 'Party animals' are more likely to slip up when socialising, especially if they're drinking.

'Being aware of situations that are more likely to result in a slip up can help those trying to give up stay quit for good,' he says.

His advice for those currently battling their nicotine addiction is to maintain their motivation.

'Research has shown that anybody who can stay off the gaspers for a week has all the skills they need to resist temptations.'

'Those who are struggling should remind themselves that they are trying to break a habit, and it can take a while to 'learn' to become a non-smoker.'

'To become a non-smoker involves learning how to enjoy life without cigarettes. This also involves a set of skills that you can learn, skills that you need to develop once you have temptations under control.'

'Smokers trying to quit can take heart from the statistics that ex-smokers outnumber current smokers, which proves that quitting is achievable.'

Dr Borland's advice for those who are at risk of relapse includes:

Remind yourself of how long you have gone without a cigarette, and calculate how many cigarettes you would have had in that period if you had not quit. This will help you stay motivated when you realise how many cigarettes you have NOT smoked.

Reward yourself with some of the money you have saved by not smoking.

If you are experiencing cravings, remember each craving only lasts a few minutes, and use the techniques of delay, deep breathing, drinking water or doing something else to fight them.

If you feel the urge to smoke remind yourself of why you quit in the first place, and remember the health and financial benefits.

If you need extra support, call the Quitline on 131 848

Dr Borland says those quitters who have relapsed should not give up on quitting, but should learn from that attempt, and plan another attempt as soon as possible armed with a new understanding of the challenges.

Dr Borland suggests that successful quitters remember to reward themselves, perhaps by spending some of the money they have saved by quitting on special treats.

'After quitting for a week, a former pack-a day smoker will have saved enough for a dinner out, and after six months could take an interstate holiday with the money they would have otherwise spent on cigarettes.'

Smokers seeking to quit can call the Quitline on 131 848 for free help and resources. Quit have developed a New Year Quit Pack, which features a 2001 diary with a year's supply of quit tips, as well as information about quitting and special giveaways to help deal with cravings.

Quit's survival tips for the holiday season

Summer holiday festivities can be a real challenge for those trying to quit. Planning and firm resolve can help them get through with flying colours. Here are some survival tips:

Try not to drink too much alcohol as it can lessen your resolve not to smoke. Make every second drink a non-alcoholic one.

If you're going to parties, plan ahead and take some sugar-free gum or lollies, and something to hold to keep your hands occupied. Don't be tempted to take along a few cigarettes 'just in case'.

Practise saying 'thanks but I don't smoke' in case you're offered a cigarette.

Remind yourself why you quit in the first place.

If you are tempted to have a cigarette, do something else.

ends

Further information:

Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager
Quit Victoria

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