What if I relapse?

Stopping smoking can be difficult and many people who smoke need more than one attempt to quit for good. The challenge is to learn from your last experience and not to give up.

The risk of relapsing is usually strongest early on in the quit attempt, but after two or three months this risk reduces considerably.

In order to learn from your relapse, it might help to think about:

  • what you would do differently next time – for example, maybe you could try a different aid to help you;
  • what you should stop doing – think about whether your relapse occurred because you were in a risky situation such as in a bar or among friends who smoke.

It may help you to be successful next time if you are aware of situations that could lead to relapse.

Situations that could be linked with relapse are:

  • keeping a packet of cigarettes in the house;
  • buying cheap cigarettes ‘for friends’ while on holiday;
  • lighting or holding other people’s cigarettes;
  • getting drunk and forgetting you’re trying to quit;
  • going outside with smokers – just for a chat;
  • offering to look after someone else’s cigarettes;
  • thinking ‘there’s so much smoke in here, I might as well smoke myself’;
  • arguing with a smoking friend or partner, knowing that they will probably end up telling you to be quiet and have a cigarette;
  • thinking that it doesn’t count if it’s a light cigarette, someone else’s cigarette, you’re on holiday, or no one else sees you smoking it;
  • a stressful situation such as bereavement or illness in the family.

Remember there’s probably a reason for someone trying to sabotage your quit attempt. Perhaps they smoke and would love to give up and achieve what you have, but they just don’t feel ready to take that step.