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COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO STOP SMOKING
COPING WITH A LAPSE
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Suddenly, you've found yourself smoking again, after days or even months of being
smoke-free. Perhaps you had a strong craving to smoke or were under stress or had a drink
with friends. Perhaps you don't even remember lighting the cigarette. Maybe you thought
you could have "just one." Most often, a lapse occurs when an ex-smoker is
placed in a situation in which he or she would have smoked in the past, but lacks a plan
to cope without a cigarette.
In any case, lapses happen. It may be one puff
or it may be days of smoking. A lapse is simply a mistake, a slip. Lapse does not mean
failure, and it does not mean you have to stop trying to be smoke-free. Millions of
ex-smokers experienced lapses before they were finally able to maintain a smoke-free
lifestyle. But a lapse will become a relapse if you give up and return to a smoking
Learn how to cope with the lapse so it doesn't
become a relapse.
Stop what you
are doing. Stop smoking and throw all of your cigarettes away.
Try one of the following:
situation. Get away from cigarettes.
break or go for a walk to give yourself a chance to think.
yourself "I am okay right now without a cigarette. I can cope."
yourself of your reasons for wanting to be smoke-free.
friend or professional to help you get back on track.
If you are
kicking yourself for having a cigarette, stop. Take this opportunity to catch
your breath, assess what
happened and make a new plan.
Assess and learn:
Where were you
when you smoked?
Who was with you?
What triggered the first cigarette?
How did you feel when you smoked?
Did it solve a problem or create more problems?
Did it make you feel better or worse?
back on what happened, you can learn about the risks you faced. Use this opportunity to
come up with a new coping strategy. How might you avoid this situation in the future? If
you find yourself in this situation again, what would be an alternative way to deal with
the urge to smoke?
Don't feel like a failure. Don't feel guilty about the lapse. Forgive yourself.
Make this a learning experience. Make your renewed stop-smoking plan even better.
Get back on track:
decision to return to being smoke-free.
your reasons for wanting to be smoke-free. Those reasons are as important as ever.
your stop-smoking plan and identify areas of your plan to strengthen or improve.
Think of a
phrase that will help you stay smoke-free. Practice saying this phrase to yourself:
"Not even a
"It's easier to have none than one."
"I can cope without a cigarette."
"I can do it, one moment at a time."
lapse occurred over several days, you may want to use nicotine replacement to manage any
renewed signs of withdrawal. Follow your original plan regarding how much and how often to
use this medication. Consult your doctor with any questions.
need additional support, talk to your doctor, counselor or other healthcare professional.
They can offer insights to help you continue down your smoke-free path.
you try to be smoke-free, you take a step forward. You can't fail unless you stop trying.
Each smoke-free moment is a victory. Continue to reward yourself for working on being
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