How to Recover from a Cigarette Smoking Relapse 

by Jake Newby

| 3 min read

How to Recover from a Cigarette Smoking Relapse
If you’re one of the many Americans to suffer from a cigarette smoking relapse, don’t be discouraged.
You may have felt like you were in complete control in the days, weeks or months after quitting cigarettes before suddenly craving and eventually smoking again. This is not uncommon, and neither is recovering from such a relapse.
A study conducted for the international journal “Addictive Behaviors,” which tracked former smokers over the course of multiple decades, found that 39% of ex-smokers relapsed at least once. However, 69.5% managed to quit by the end of the study. Smoking cigarettes again after abstaining from them for a long time can be deflating. But the first key to getting back on track is forgiving yourself and taking the necessary steps to kick them once and for all.

Take action after a cigarette smoking relapse

The first few steps in recovering from a relapse are mental. You should introspect and find out what led to the relapse in the first place. Consider a list of common mental triggers that could potentially remind you of smoking. Do any of these apply to you?
  • Being around friends who smoke in social situations
  • Being around co-workers who smoke during work breaks
  • Past habits like smoking in the car or after a meal
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking coffee
  • Feeling overconfident
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling isolated or alone
  • Feeling bored
  • Continually facing stressful situations
Habits are hard to break and smoking in these situations can feel like second nature to someone who has smoked for many years. But experts have found that switching up your routines or giving yourself a distraction when you find yourself in these situations can be an effective way to dodge the urge to smoke. While on a break at work, go for a short walk instead of meeting up at the normal spot with your co-workers.
Buy a new air freshener for your car or remove the smoke smell to sever the smoking-while-driving connection. Then throw off your muscle memory by keeping candy or gum in your glove compartment and middle console to keep your mouth busy during the drive. The U.S. Library of Medicine recommends giving nicotine replacement therapy a try.
Whether you used this method to quit initially or not, leaning on products that supply low doses of nicotine could eventually nullify your cravings. If it helped before, give it another go.

Finding support

Studies show that relapse occurs most often during the initial days of quitting. You may find it extremely tough to remain disciplined during the first couple of days or weeks of quitting, but you did it once, and you can do it again. If you are worried about recovering on your own, try reaching out to a trusted friend or relative who has quit smoking before.
BWell, a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s health and wellness program, offers tobacco cessation coaching to members. If you’re ready to set a goal to quit in 30 days, you’ll get 12 weeks of support that includes five calls with a Tobacco Cessation Coaching health coach. Call 1-855-326-5102 to schedule your first call.
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