Help for Relapses
People often quit smoking and then find themselves smoking again, especially in the first few weeks or months after quitting. A relapse means going back to smoking in the same way you used to before you quit.
Remember, most people who quit smoking will relapse at some time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take it seriously, but don’t be hard on yourself either. Research has shown that the more times a person tries to quit, the greater the likelihood of their success.
Beating yourself up over a relapse will only lead to a negative frame of mind, which will decrease your chances of quitting successfully. On the other hand, staying encouraged and optimistic will create the positive mindset you need to quit smoking and stay tobacco free.
It may take four or more attempts before smokers are able to quit for good. If you experience a relapse, try revisiting the reasons why you quit in the first place and renew your commitment to quitting by trying again. You have an excellent chance of remaining smoke-free for life if you are able to stop smoking for 3 months or longer.
What to Do If You Relapse
If you relapse, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
- Get rid of any cigarettes
- Review the reasons you quit in the first place
- Set another quit date and sign another No Smoking Contract
- If you’re not ready to set another date, wait until you are ready. Identify and deal with issues that make you feel you are unable to quit
- Prepare to help ensure a relapse does not happen again
- If you feel you need more help, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider
Getting Help In Your Quitting Process
Materials are available to help you quit smoking, no matter where you are in the process. You can use the materials to learn how to prepare for your quit attempt, develop strategies to help with cravings, and prevent a relapse once you have quit. The self-help materials offer proven methods that are easy to follow and can keep your motivation high. The American Cancer Society’s "Break Away From the Pack" series has been shown to double your chances of quitting successfully. For more information on this or other self-help materials from the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345). Also, browse quit smoking resources.
When you quit smoking, your risk of stroke decreases steadily. Former smokers have the same stroke risk as nonsmokers after 5 to 15 years.