Yes, you did. You had a smoke. Now what?
Are you a smoker again? Not by any means. Sneaking one or two cigarettes doesn't mean you've turned back into a smoker, the federal government's Smokefree program advises. The key isn't what you did, but how you think about it.
The biggest mistake: Rationalizing that it's all over, so you might as well smoke the rest of the pack. Arrest that thought!
The best response: Learn from your lapse, redouble your resolve and return to your quit-smoking plan. Call your doctor, therapist, quit-smoking counselor on the help line, or loved ones for assistance and support. People who quit successfully lapse just like everyone else, but they use the lapse to recommit themselves to their quit-smoking mission.
But what if you've packed away a pack or two? What if you've really started smoking again?
Don't despair. When it comes to quitting smoking, failure can be a path to success. Each time you quit, you learn something, which you can apply to the next time. Consider this: More than 70 percent of American smokers say they want to quit, but only 5 to 10 percent succeed on any given effort, the American Cancer Society says. One national survey found that people averaged 11 attempts before quitting for good. The key is to identify what went wrong, use this information to improve your chances, and try again.
When you do get ready to quit again, think about what led you to smoke again in the first place. Write down these triggers and stressors. Consider whether your quit-smoking plan was lacking something that might have kept you on track this time. Talk to your doctor about other options. For example, next time you might want to:
- Try a different quit-smoking counseling program.
- Go to Nicotine Anonymous.
- Attend another support group.
- Try cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Try aversion therapy.
- Increase family support.
- Get more self-help materials.
- Add a second form of nicotine replacement therapy.
- Add a non-nicotine quit-smoking medication.
- Call a help line.
- Use an Internet message board.
- Take time off work.
- Have your spouse or parents look after the kids for a while.
There are many possible approaches. Your doctor can help you find the combination that works best for you. Then pick yourself off, dust yourself off and set a new quit date.
Reviewed by: Timothy Yarboro, MD