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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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Action Set
Quitting Smoking: Preventing Slips or Relapses

A slip is when a smoker who has quit smokes one or two cigarettes. A relapse is when a smoker who has quit returns to regular smoking. It is hard to quit smoking. The temptation can be very strong. Here you will find strategies to help you avoid slips as well as a relapse. You will also find tips for deciding how soon you will want to try again. This information also applies if you use smokeless tobacco products, such as chew or snuff.

  • Most slips and relapses happen during the first week after a person quits smoking.
  • Avoiding a slip-up is best. But if you do slip, it's important to respond to it carefully so you don't relapse. Continue your quit-smoking medicine or nicotine replacement unless you have returned to regular smoking.
  • If you do relapse, think about what you can learn from it and what you should do the next time you quit.
  • If you slip or relapse, think about adding a new treatment, such as using medicines or some kind of nicotine replacement. You might also find it helpful to take part in a quit-smoking program or to talk to a counselor trained to help people quit smoking.
  • People who relapse after 6 weeks of not smoking usually don't do it because of nicotine withdrawal. Instead, they relapse because they find themselves in situations that make them want a cigarette. Learn to recognize when you might slip or relapse, and plan ahead to cope with those situations.

what.gif What is a slip? What is a relapse?
why.gif Why is it important to deal with slips quickly?
how.gif How can you deal with and avoid slips and relapse?
where.gif Where to go from here

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ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Hughes, MD - Psychiatry
Last RevisedFebruary 19, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 19, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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