Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Quitting Smoking: Preventing Slips or Relapses
A slip is when a smoker who has quit smokes one or two cigarettes. A relapse is when a smoker who has quit returns to regular smoking. It is hard to quit smoking. The
temptation can be very strong. Here you will find strategies to help you avoid slips as well as a relapse. You will also find tips for deciding how soon you will want to try again. This information also applies if you use smokeless
tobacco products, such as chew or snuff.
A slip means
smoking one or two cigarettes after you have quit smoking. It usually happens
in the first week after you quit. It doesn't mean that you will start smoking
again. But it means that you may need to do something different, such as try a
new treatment or get support.
A relapse is returning to regular
(usually daily) smoking after you have tried to quit. Relapse is common. It
means that you need to pay attention to those things that led to your starting
to smoke again and to avoid those things the next time you try to quit.
If you smoke one or two cigarettes after you have quit
smoking, it means you've had a relapse.
Smoking one or two cigarettes after you have
quit smoking is called a slip. It usually happens in the first week after you
quit. A relapse is a return to regular smoking after you have tried to
Continue to Why?
slip is a warning sign that something is not quite right with your quit
attempt. A slip may lead to a sense that you have no control and, possibly, to
more slips. Having several slips in a row or facing conditions where you are
seriously tempted to start smoking again increases the chance that you will
Whether you have a single slip or a full relapse,
smoking again can make you feel bad about yourself and can trigger depression.
If you slip, try to think of it as an opportunity to correct yourself before it
leads to a full relapse.
A slip means that something is not working with your
A slip doesn't mean that you will go back to
regular smoking, but it is a warning that you are at risk of relapse. If you
slip, try to think of it as an opportunity to correct yourself so you don't
have a relapse.
Continue to How?
Certain situations may tempt you to smoke. These are called
triggers. Learn to recognize when you might slip, and
plan ahead to cope with those situations. Think about when you slipped in the
past. You may be more tempted to smoke when you:
Are there other situations that make you want to light up a
Here are some things that may help:
Avoiding a slip is best. But if you do slip, it's important to respond to
it carefully so you don't start smoking regularly again. Here are some ideas
that may help you get back on track:
If you are taking medicine or using nicotine replacement, keep doing so unless you go back to regular smoking. It can help you get back on track.
Planning ahead to cope with smoking triggers can help
you avoid a relapse.
Planning ahead can help. Other things that help
include staying focused on your goal of quitting, getting support when you need
it, and rewarding yourself for your successes.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you have the tools to avoid slips and relapse when you quit
smoking. Congratulations on making the move to a tobacco-free life. If you need
support or have questions about this information, talk to your doctor. Ask
about the resources available in your area.
If you would like more information on quitting smoking, the
following resources are available:
website provides resources for quitting smoking and tobacco prevention, including information for children, teens, researchers, and scientists.
There are also reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fact sheets, a publications catalog, a smoking and health resource library, and other materials, such as buttons, calendars, and eCards.
This is also the location for the State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System.
The toll-free number is a single access point to the National
Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines. Callers are automatically routed to a
state-run quitline, if one exists in their area. If there is no state-run
quitline, callers are routed to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) quitline,
where they may receive help with quitting smoking, informational materials, and
referrals to other resources.
This website provides free information and
professional assistance to help support people who are trying to quit smoking.
The information provided is for both the immediate and long-term needs of
people who are trying to quit and for friends and family who care about them.
This website includes an online guide to
quitting smoking, local and state telephone quitlines, the National Cancer
Institute's national telephone quitline and instant messaging service, and
publications that can be ordered or downloaded and printed. There is also a link to women.smokefree.gov, which has more resources for women who want to quit smoking.
Return to topic:
August 15, 2013
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry
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