You’ve been taking all the steps, reading the books, using the substitutes, and you’re feeling pretty damn good about your efforts to give up smoking. That is, until you head out to a party and your friends are all lighting up. The temptation is too much, and you end up having a smoke. One can’t hurt, right?
Only one turns into two, and two turns into half a packet, and now you’re shaking and you feel awful and wondering if you’ve just undone all your good work.
Don’t beat yourself up. Cigarettes are one of the most addictive things in the world. It’s incredibly hard and takes a lot of willpower to quit smoking, and most people don’t succeed on the first try. It's also especially hard when you have to deal with other smokers after you've quit.
After a relapse, keep positive. Your chances of quitting increase after every attempt you make, so the most important thing to do is to forgive yourself and get started again! Assess what it was that made you light up. Was it being around other smokers, or was it extra stress at work? See what you can do to limit your exposure to that trigger while you get back on the wagon.
Other tips for after you relapse into smoking
- Don’t dwell on what went wrong – focus on the future and all the positive things you’ve done since to help you quit smoking.
- Write a list of all the reasons you want to quit smoking. Pin the list somewhere you’ll see it every day, like the bathroom mirror or beside the coffee machine. This will help you remember what all this suffering is for.
- Keep counting down. Cross off the days in your calendar. If you can get to three months of smoke-free days, you’re very unlikely to relapse again.
- Get rid of temptation. Throw away your cigarette stash, banish smoking from home, and avoid places and events where you know there will be smoking.
- Visit your doctor. They may be able to recommend other treatments to help you quit smoking.
- Try vaping. Many ex-smokers find that vaping can help them quit smoking, by emulating the habit that smoking has created.
If you’re struggling with your smoking journey, the SmokeFree website provides a list of services (many of them free) across NZ you can access. You don’t have to do this alone!