The Reasons Smokers Relapse

So you’ve stopped smoking, kicked the habit, ditched the weed and you’re feeling better…until you’re back on them again.

There’s no shame in failing in your first attempt to stop smoking traditional cigarettes. Many sources (including professors in the University of California) say that traditional cigarettes are harder to give up than some other drugs.

But that alone doesn’t quite do cigarettes justice; along with the chemical addiction (and frequent other drug comparisons), there are the day to day obstacles and habitual triggers which make smoking so hard to give up. 

Why Do Smokers Relapse?

The reasons why smokers relapse are many and varied. This academic study of addiction found that “Relapse to smoking was associated with nicotine dependence, exposure to smoking cues, craving, withdrawal symptoms, and lack of smoking cessation aids.”

In other words, going cold turkey with nothing to take cigarettes’ place makes things a lot more difficult.

The study also says to watch out for old habits and prepare for day to day cues that might prompt a smoke:

“The findings lend support to a model of cessat

ion in which level of motivation to stop generates quit attempts but plays little role in relapse. Dependence, social smoking cues, and a recently failed quit attempt are important factors in relapse.”

4 Triggers to look out for when quitting smoking

1.      Watch out for old habits

Smokers often think of cigarettes as a reward or a treat, as opposed to what it really is – an affliction. A good place to start is to remove cigarettes from rituals and make a plan for every time you have a smoke: Instead of drinking coffee in the morning, drink something else. Have a hot drink after a meal instead of a smoke. Play an app game while waiting for a bus instead of sparking up. Prepare for emotional cues and find another way to treat yourself or to celebrate/commiserate small moments, whether it’s a cup of tea, a YouTube kitten video or something else entirely.

2.      Substitute something else for the cigarette

Obviously vaping is a solution that we would recommend (but don’t just take our word for it – read this piece in The Guardian about 60% of vapers quitting cigarettes). But chewing matchsticks and toothpicks helps too, if you don’t have an e-cigarette to hand. Many smokers find the hand to mouth action helps fill the void that a cigarette leaves behind.

3.      Change your attitude to cigarettes

This is a nice article that suggests you train your mind to see cigarettes for what they are, instead of what you’ve been conditioned to think. Here’s its author Terry Martin says:

“If you think: ‘Smoking made life more pleasant. It relaxed me and helped me cope’…tell yourself: ‘Smoking was slowly killing me. Addiction to nicotine actually created most of the anxiety I felt. Smoking only relieved the physical withdrawal I experienced when the nicotine level in my bloodstream dropped. I can cope so much better without smoking than I ever did with it.”

It’s embarrassing how easily trained and manipulated the human mind is, so you might as well use it to your advantage!

4.      Be patient

We guarantee it gets easier. This study in Duke University says that former smokers are most vulnerable in the initial stages. But the longer it is since you’ve had a cigarette, the easier it becomes to stay away from them, as they recede in your rear-view mirror and eventually disappear from your mind altogether.

If you have quit smoking and relapsed more than a few times, perhaps it’s time to think about trying something new. We’re not saying that e-cigarettes are the solution to quitting smoking, but perhaps it’s worth giving vaping a try?

Have you given up smoking? Have you any tips on how to avoid relapse? Please feel free to comment below or get in touch with us if you are an e-cigarette user.

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