Many smokers try to quit several times before they quit smoking for good. Slips and relapses are a normal part of quitting, but you can learn from them and build skills that will help you stay on track.
A slip is having one or two cigarettes after you quit. Even “just one puff” counts as a slip. A slip is different from a relapse. A relapse means going back to smoking regularly.
I Slipped. Now What?
Use a slip as an opportunity to learn. Remind yourself that a slip is just a temporary setback. Be proud of the cigarettes you didn’t smoke. You have not failed and you’re not back to square one.
Think about why you slipped. Can you identify a specific reason? What will you do the next time you find yourself in the same situation? Knowing your triggers and which ones are more common for women can help you understand what caused you to slip.
Slips present good opportunities to try something new. Download the QuitGuide app, and tag the locations and times of day when you need support the most—Smokefree.gov will be there to help. Imagine your life without cigarettes. Thinking about yourself as a nonsmoker increases your chances of staying quit. You can try nicotine replacement therapy, or talk to your doctor about other quit smoking medications. If you need to talk to someone, you can chat with an expert who can help you quit.
Craving a smoke? Talk to a friend! You don’t have to do this alone.
I Relapsed. Now What?
You are not alone if slips have led you back to smoking. Keep trying! Most smokers need several tries before they stop smoking for good. If you’re not ready right now to quit for good, Smokefree.gov offers two text message programs that will help you prepare:
- Practice Quit allows you to try quitting for short periods of time before quitting for good—you can choose to practice for one, three, or five days. Build up some short-term successes and then try a longer quit with SmokefreeTXT.
- If you’re not ready to stop smoking, try a Daily Challenge each day for a week. These small steps will help you learn to deal with cravings, triggers, and stressful situations.
Remember: Quitting smoking is a process. Sometimes you will struggle, which might lead to a slip or relapse. It’s all a normal part of becoming smokefree. Just keep learning what works for you and apply those things to your next quit attempt. You can do it if you stick with it.