Quit Lessons - Smoking Relapse Prevention

Quit Smoking 101 -- Lesson 9

Close up of Hispanic woman breaking cigarette
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Smoking Relapse Prevention

Oh, to have just one cigarette... 

Surely smoking just this one cigarette won't throw my quit program out the window, right?!

At some point in cessation, nearly all ex-smokers entertain thoughts of smoking just one cigarette, or just for tonight.  We rationalize that it would be alright, and we'd get right back to our quit programs.

We know better than to believe that is true, but time and distance from the last cigarette smoked can soften the edges on the reasons why we quit in the first place.

Learning to navigate around the unhealthy thoughts of smoking that are bound to come up now and again during the first smoke-free year is a necessary and critical step in the recovery process.

Will I Miss Smoking Forever?

Does the urge to smoke weeks or months into cessation mean we are doomed to fail? Will we spend the rest of our lives missing cigarettes?


Urges to smoke are simply indicators of the healing that is going on within us and should be regarded as progress. Think of cravings to smoke for a recovering nicotine addict as being similar to hunger pangs for a person who is trying to lose weight.  They are uncomfortable, but are temporary side effects of the healing process.

This focus of this lesson is to help you begin to understand and reprogram your mind away from the junkie thinking that is a byproduct of quitting tobacco. I've also included stories from people who have been through a smoking relapse.

Their perspectives give us plenty of valuable food for thought.

Keep your memory green, your reasons for quitting close at hand, and remember: There is no such thing as "just one" cigarette.

Avoiding Relapse:  Learn to Beat Junkie Thinking

How to Beat the Junkie in Your Head When You Quit Smoking
Nicotine withdrawal puts unhealthy thoughts of smoking into our minds, but with knowledge of what to expect, you can beat junkie thinking down.

4 Steps to Defeat the Urge to Smoke
When we first quit, the urge to smoke a cigarette can be overwhelming. This article will teach you how to decipher and satisfy what your body is trying to signal via the craving without lighting up.

5 Steps That Lead to a Smoking Relapse
Let's take a look at 5 of the most common reasons for a smoking relapse.

Rationalizations for Smoking
Chances are some of the rationalizations to smoke on this list have gone through your mind, probably more than once!

What You're Really Giving Up When You Quit Smoking
When we stop smoking, it's easy to forget the negative aspects that drove us to quit in the first place. What do we really give up when we quit?

There is No Such Thing as Just One Cigarette
The title says it all, and the content of this article offers you the tools to stay smoke-free when your mind is urging otherwise.

Why Do People Relapse Years Later?
We all know people who have started smoking again after years of cessation. Why does it happen and how can we prevent it? 

Relapse Stories

The Slippery Slope of a Smoking Relapse - Steve's Story
Ex-smoker Steve offers perspective on how a smoking relapse usually takes hold and how hard it can be to regain lost ground once it does.

Smoking Relapse: This is How It Happens - "C's" Story
If you've ever had a smoking relapse, you will identify with this ex-smoker's story about how she fell off the non-smoking wagon.

I Really Believed I Had Nicotine Addiction Licked - Jenn's Story
This poignant personal story of smoking relapse provides valuable insight into the reality that settles in after lighting up once again.

Quit Smoking 101 -- Index Page | Lesson 10