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Chronic Quitter - Tara's Story

Share Your Story: My Relapse Story

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Updated May 23, 2010

Chronic Quitter - Tara's Story

My smoking background

It's funny, because as a teenager, I thought smoking was disgusting. I was a health nut, really, eating right and exercising. Then at 18, that all went down the drain.

My best friend and I frequented the local music scene in Atlanta, and I guess you could say cigarettes did too. She and I started off going halfsies on a pack, and somehow, we managed to make 10 smokes last a week.

Gradually, however, we bought our own packs, and the smoke screen in front of our eyes grew thicker and thicker.

How I relapsed

I joke that I'm a "chronic quitter," and that's the truth. I've quit so many times, I can't begin to tell you how many relapses I've had. One thing I CAN say is that my attempts to quit have become more frequent, which is good, I guess.

One thing's for certain: My relapses have all begun with a single thought. I don't necessarily have to be having a bad day, I just have to THINK about how it would feel to buy a pack, and suddenly, I just do it. It's like a rush, really.

Lessons learned

  • I will NEVER enjoy cigarettes, and I will ALWAYS want to quit...again.
  • Thoughts are just that...thoughts. They aren't commands to start smoking again.
  • Take quitting one day at a time. Don't think too far ahead into the future, or you'll definitely grow frustrated.
  • Read as much as you can about nicotine addiction. Read a little every day to drown out the junkie thoughts in your brain.
  • Stick close to the forum, and don't think you can do this alone.
  • Once an addict, always an addict.
  • Relapsing is a trap, plain and simple. There are only two ways out of that trap: quitting or dying. It's my choice.

Terry Martin, About.com Smoking Cessation, says:

Tara touched on two key points associated with relapse:

1.) Relapse Always Begins in Our Minds

Even though it may feel like a smoking slip/relapse happens out of the blue, that is never the case. The seeds of a relapse are often planted days or even weeks before the event occurs. A negative shift in thinking may start by seeing something as simple as a stranger smoking a cigarette. For a recovering nicotine addict, that can trigger the thought,

"He gets to smoke, but I can't because I quit."

That thought, if left unchecked, can fester into feelings of sacrifice, setting the stage for relapse.

When junkie thoughts about smoking surface, correct them on the spot.

If, for example you think:

"That man is lucky! He gets to smoke and I can't."

Replace that thought immediately with something a little closer to the truth:

"That man has to smoke because he's addicted to nicotine. That lit cigarette in his hand will just lead to another and another and another until he quits. I feel bad for him and grateful that I stopped smoking. I still miss it right now, but that's because I just quit. I know cravings to smoke won't last forever."

2.) Smoking is a Choice

You are in the driver's seat with your quit program. Our actions are always within our control. Do the work to change your relationship to smoking and you will find the permanent freedom you're after with smoking cessation.

Relapse Prevention and Recovery:

One of the worst effects relapse has on us is what it does to self-confidence and the belief that we have what it takes to quit smoking successfully.

If you are having trouble getting a foothold with smoking cessation, step back and take some time to carefully evaluate the reasons behind your relapse and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.

Then, put some work into building a solid quit plan that includes the lessons learned. They will help you maneuver through future triggers successfully.

You have what it takes to boot nicotine addiction to the curb permanently, Tara. Believe that and believe in yourself.

Smoking cessation is worth every bit of work it takes to achieve - your precious life is worth the work.

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