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If you are reading this write-up, chances are that you have already quit smoking, but are fearful of a relapse. Well, there is every reason to be cautious as there is no dearth of people who try to quit smoking, and it is only too common a fact that a number of these people have a relapse. Data shows that close to 40% of people who manage to stay smoke free for a year relapse and go on to smoke a cigarette or more in the future; although this probability does go down considerably for people who have been smoke free for around five years.

If you have quit smoking and intend to keep things that way, the foremost thing that you need to bear in mind is that having even a single cigarette can do damage, and get you right back to square one (with a habit in tow). Yes, fact remains that people who have quit smoking do succumb to pressure to smoke just that one cigarette and often find themselves nursing their smoking habit yet again. This typical ‘junkie’ thinking is known to be the cause of many relapses even in the cigarette smoking populace, and it is precisely this line of thought that makes a person who has quit smoking forget why he/she quit smoking in the first place.

Also, when someone who has quit smoking for a while starts thinking that he/she has absolute control over the addiction, there can be trouble. Do bear in mind that if you have ever been addicted to nicotine, introducing it back into your life will leave you highly prone to become habituated once more. The trick to remain smoke free, therefore, is to ensure that you stay well clear of smoking even a single cigarette.

Remain Watchful:

Do you remember how strong the urge to smoke was when you first quit smoking? And then the urge went down to quite an extent with the passing of time. However, even after remaining smoke free for months, the urge did not disappear completely. This is why you have to remain watchful of situations that can get you to light up again. If you do find yourself being tempted, remember that you have resisted such urges in the past, and this situation should be no different. At this point you need to revisit the plan that helped you quit smoking, and if hadn’t used a plan, then you might want to devise one to help you remain smoke free.

Social Gatherings & Parties:

Social gathering and parties have a way of working as very strong triggers when it comes to people lighting up again after having being smoke free for both short and long durations. When you’ve just started on your ‘smoke free’ ways, it is best if you steer clear of social gatherings that you feel might act as a trigger. The most important thing here is that you be honest with yourself, and identify these potentially hazardous situations.

For example, going out for the night with a bunch of friends amongst whom a majority are smokers is something that is best avoided (especially in the early stages of your quit smoking efforts). Instead, going out with someone who is supportive of your efforts would be a much better idea. Going out but limiting yourself to the ‘non-smoking’ area is also a good idea.

If you are planning to go out for a dinner gathering but are wary of the period wherein drinks are served early on and cigarettes are lit unceremoniously, then making a late entry is definitely not a bad idea. You might also want to consider leaving soon after the dinner, as post dinner extended tea/coffee sessions can leave you susceptible to light up. Additionally, if you intend to go to a smoke filled pub or bar, you might want to reconsider your plans. Therefore, it becomes pertinent that you anticipate which social situations might seem challenging, and then devise appropriate strategies to work around them.

Stress as a Factor:

Since cigarettes are viewed as stress busters by many smokers, stress can become a factor in your wanting to smoke again (even if it’s just the one cigarette). A significant number of ex-smokers who have started smoking again have said that feelings of being angry, tensed, sad, etc. led them to light up again. Remember that stress remains a part of all our lives (smokers and non-smokers alike) and while having a smoke might help you calm your nerves momentarily, smoking surely won’t remove the cause of the problem. Bear in mind that there are various other ways that can help you battle stress, and these include simply talking to someone you trust and rely on, physical activity, or even something such as listening to music and reading.

Family and Friends:

Quit smoking efforts do get challenging when you live with other smokers. Here, you have to ensure that no tobacco products remain lying around the house, as these can act as triggers. Another thing that you should do is to ask the people in your household who smoke do to so outside the house, away from your presence. You should also ask them to carry their cigarettes with them, and not leave them lying around. The rationale that you can use is that if you were a recovering alcoholic, would they leave a bottle of alcohol for you to find and battle. This should make them understand your point if view.

When it comes to friends who smoke, make a conscious effort to try and hang out with friends who do not smoke. If most of your friends smoke, then you might want to ask them to abstain while you are around, or at least not smoke in your presence. If this does not work, then you might want to give yourself some room, and avoid them for a while.

And if you do Relapse:

In the event that you do relapse, don’t think that it’s the end of your efforts and that there’s no point giving it another shot. Of all the people who try to quit smoking, it is believed that a fair number of people have 5 -6 relapses before they finally quit for good. So while a relapse is definitely not desired, look at it as a part of the process, and something that can be overcome.

If and when you do relapse, do not focus on the relapse itself, but on what you can do differently in the future to avoid it from happening again. Ask yourself questions like why you lit up, what triggered the incident, what the situation was, and how you can prepare yourself better for the future. This should help you in formulating a plan for combating similar situations in the road ahead.

At all points of time in your efforts to remain smoke free, continue to tell yourself that you’re doing a good job, and the road ahead will only get easier. After all, you aren’t just thinking about your own wellbeing, but also about the ones who hold you dear. The money that you save in the process is simply the icing on the cake.

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