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A slip-up is a puff of a cigarette, or a cigarette or two, in the middle of your quit attempt. You haven’t relapsed to your old smoking rate but there’s a real risk that you might.

It’s important not to use a slip-up as an excuse to go back to smoking.

A slip-up is a common part of quitting for most people. Treat it as a sign that you need to revise your quitting strategy, and don’t waste your energy on self-blame.

Getting back on track

The next 24 hours are critical. Here are some important steps to consider.

Learning from a slip-up

  • I gave-in to constant, strong cravings or felt restless and irritable.
  • The whole thing got too scary and difficult.
    • The first week is often the hardest to get through. Plan for low and high moods and stressful situations. If you get through you’ve gained a lot of skills. Keep at it. Knowing what to expect can really help (see managing nicotine withdrawal).
  • I started to smoke without realising it.
    • Change your routine to minimise triggers and manage routines. Also, finding a good replacement for the cigarette can be helpful, e.g. chewing gum, stress ball, drink bottle, moisturiser.
  • I was stressed out!
    • Managing stress is a challenge. Deep breathe, walk, meditate, drink water, get a massage, be kind to yourself and use your savings to do something you enjoy.
  • I slipped up when I had a few drinks.
    • Remember, if you’re over the drink-driving limit, you’re heading into risky territory. Consider changing your drinking habits for a time and plan ahead.
  • I allowed myself to have one, and regretted it.
  • I felt unable to say NO in the situation I was in.
    • Do you need to talk to friends who smoke about the support you need?

Make sure you have a plan for these and other risky situations.

Get rid of your cigarettes

If you have any cigarettes on you or in easy reach, get rid of them. If you live with a smoker consider what changes you’d like to make to your home, or what conversations you’ll need to have, to minimise slip-ups. Or you might have gotten a cigarette from someone else. Over the next 24 hours, try to avoid that scenario and other smokers.

Plan for the rest of the day, and tomorrow

As mentioned, the next 24 hours is pivotal to your goal of being quit for good and for your future. Your strategy will depend on your understanding of your smoking and your slip-up. Remember the 4D's (delay, deep breath, drink water, do something else) and, depending on what has happened, get moving, change the scene and make sure you’ve got something to keep you busy for the rest of the day. Give Quitline a call and consider relaxation strategies. What will you do at the same time tomorrow?

One cigarette's okay...isn't it?

Thoughts like “just one will be okay” or “it'd be great to smoke just one-a-day or one-a-week” are warning signs. Ask yourself “Why wasn’t I smoking just one-a-day before?”. Nicotine is very addictive. There is no safe level of smoking.

Building motivation

Sometimes a slip-up can be about losing sight of your reasons to quit. This is the time to reflect on your own personal reasons to quit and remind yourself why they are important.

Quitline can help you get back on track

If you’re doing it tough the Quitline can be a great support at this time. Quitline counsellors know how difficult it is to quit and that slip-ups are a normal part of the quitting journey.  Click here if you’d like to book a call, now.