Relapse Handout

Questions and situations that surround relapse in tobacco cessation.

Did you quit smoking for some time but then go back to it after a while?

You are not alone. And you are not a failure. Millions of Americans try to quit but go back to smoking. Be proud that you've tried. Just because you went back to smoking doesn't mean that you can't quit permanently. Since 1965, almost half of all adults who have ever smoked have quit for good. More than 3 million Americans stop smoking every year. Keep trying and you can join them! Keep in mind that the more times you try to quit, the more likely you are to succeed for good -- if you apply what you learned from previous quit attempts.

Ask Yourself These Questions:

  • What happened? Why did I light up?

  • How can I prevent that from happening again?

Do Any of These Situations Sound Familiar to You?

  • "Someone offered me a cigarette, and I accepted it before I realized what I was doing. Before I knew it, I was back to a pack a day."

  • "I was doing all right, when suddenly there was a major crisis in my personal life. My immediate reaction was to reach for a cigarette."

  • "I had 2 drinks, and next the thing I knew I was smoking without even thinking about it."

  • "I thought for sure I was over it. I was feeling great. Then one day I went to a party and thought I could treat myself to just one cigarette. I learned the hard way that it just doesn't work like that."

  • "I have no idea what came over me. It had been years since I quit. The cravings were long gone. Then out of the blue when I was out fishing with my friends, I remembered the days when we all used to smoke together. And I just wanted to bring back that moment."

Planning in advance for these kinds of situations will help you overcome the urge to smoke the next time around. For example, avoid alcohol when you quit smoking. Don't get down on yourself. Just think through the process, and agree to get back on track. Set a new quit date (in the very near future, before you revert back to your old smoking routine). Join a new quit-smoking (smoking cessation) class in your area.

(Sources: ACS, 2003; AHA, 2004; ALA, 2003)