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Had a smoke? You’re still a non-smoker

Slip ups are common. Don't beat yourself up or give up. Keep reflecting, and work out some strategies to deal with smoking triggers.

If you’ve had a cigarette, or a few puffs after being smokefree for a few days weeks, months or more, it doesn’t mean you’re a ‘smoker’ again.

It’s important to keep seeing yourself as a non-smoker so you don’t slip back to regular smoking.

Use this as a chance to review and reflect on your quitting strategy. 

Ask yourself: 

  1. Where were you when you had a cigarette or a puff? 

  2. What were you feeling? 

  3. What will you do next time? 

Check out the scenarios below for ideas on how to learn from a slip up. 

Learning from a slip up

"I gave-in to strong cravings or felt restless and irritable."

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or prescribed stop smoking medication can take the edge off these cravings. If you are using medications, check that you’re using them correctly. Talk to your health professional. Check out the individual pages for each NRT type: patches, mouth spray, gum, lozenge, inhaler. Combination therapy involves using a nicotine patch plus a faster-acting NRT type like mouth spray or lozenge. It's one of the most effective quitting methods (especially if you add a call to Quitline).

"The whole thing got too scary and difficult."

The first week is often the hardest to get through. Plan for low and high moods and stressful situations. If you get through you’ve gained a lot of skills. Keep at it. Knowing what to expect when you quit can help. 

"I started to smoke without realising it."

Change your routine to minimise triggers and manage routines. Also, find a good replacement for the cigarette e.g. chewing gum, stress ball, drink bottle, moisturiser. 

Our Quitline counsellors have spoken to thousands of people in the same situation. Give them a try. They're full of ideas about how to keep busy and get through a craving. You can even request a Quitline callback at a time that suits. 

"I was stressed out!"

Managing stress is a challenge. Deep breathe, walk, meditate, drink water, get a massage, be kind to yourself and use your savings to do something you enjoy. For more stress tips go here

"I slipped up when I had a few drinks."

Remember, if you’re over the drink-driving limit, you’re heading into risky territory. Consider changing your drinking habits (even if only for a few weeks) and plan ahead.

"I allowed myself to have one, and regretted it."

See yourself as a non-smoker and find something to keep the hands busy.

"I felt unable to say NO in the situation I was in."

Do you need to talk to smoking friends and be clear about what you need. Choosing a phrase like "I'm a non-smoker" or "I don't smoke anymore" can be quite powerful. 

What have you learnt about your smoking habits that can help you make your next quit attempt successful?  

I've only had a puff or two
Slip ups
Staying quit

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