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Smoking is a major addiction affecting millions of Americans today including both adults and teenagers.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a lot of smokers who quit tend to relapse soon at least once.
Let us look at some ways to handle a smoking relapse. (1)
Handling a Smoking Relapse
Cigarettes are extremely harmful to health and increase your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, lung disorders, certain types of cancers, etc.
If you or someone you know has decided to quit, then here are a few things you should know about the quitting process and relapses.
1. Quitting and reducing risks
Even though cigarettes may take years off your life, studies show that the body tends to start healing itself pretty soon after you quit smoking. It greatly reduces your risk of developing smoking-related diseases such as bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, emphysema, or even lung and oral cancer.
As the old saying goes – it is never too late to quit.
2. Finding support
The first few weeks after quitting are the hardest to get by. Most relapses occur in this time period. (2) You can try to reach out to friends and family for emotional support. If you feel you need further help after a relapse, you can consult a doctor for nicotine patches or lozenges.
3. Adopt new habits
Try to identify trigger points that push you to smoke. For example: if you have the habit of smoking on your drive home, try to carpool with a friend for a few days or take public transport.
Avoid going to places where you used to smoke or hanging out with people who smoke for a while.
4. Build coping skills
It is easy to fall back into old habits when you are stressed or having a bad day at work. Try to avoid this by developing new methods of stress relief. Find a hobby such as painting or jogging.
5. Think positively
It may sound whimsical – but a positive mentality will benefit you in your quest to quit smoking. Try to look at relapse as a minor setback rather than a failure to quit.
6. Try a combination of methods
Nicotine replacement therapy has been found to be useful in many smoking addicts. (3) It can help curb cigarette cravings and get over them. There are nicotine patches, chewing gum, and lozenges you can try. You can consult a doctor to guide you through the journey.
Apart from this, it may be necessary to seek mental health support from your loved ones and in de-addiction groups.
7. Remember your goals
Keeping your end goals in sight can help you stay motivated. Make a list of all the reasons why you should quit and keep it with you at all times.
The reasons can be many: you may want to live longer, any recent health scare you want to treat, be a good role model for your kids, etc. (4)
8. Get acupuncture
Some studies suggest that acupuncture can be a good way to reduce irritability and restlessness associated with withdrawal symptoms.
Getting acupuncture done by a certified professional can help make your quitting journey easier. (5)
9. Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing helps stimulate calming sensations in your body and provides relief from irritability. Lie on your back and inhale and exhale deeply for 10–15 minutes until the urge to smoke subsides. (6)(7)
Prevention Against Smoking Relapse
Here are a few tips to prevent smoking relapses:
- If someone you know has recently quit smoking, be patient with them. They need your emotional support at this moment. They may have mood swings or be unpleasant to be around for a while.
- Learn to acknowledge their struggle and provide constant encouragement.
- If you are trying to quit, find a support program. It helps keep you motivated.
Cigarette smoking is associated with a number of health hazards and can be damaging to every aspect of your health. Quitting can be a tough journey but know that at the end of the day, it is going to be worth it.