There are some situations, like drinking alcohol or socialising, that can test you. In these situations, there tend to be stronger-than-normal cravings and a higher risk of slip-up or relapse.
Anticipating these and preparing for them as much as possible is one way of ensuring that you will stay quit. Getting some good advice from a service like Quitline can increase your chance of quitting.
If you like a drink, you’re likely to have a smoke at the same time - they often go hand in hand. Thinking about how you’ll deal with alcohol for the first few weeks of quitting is always a good idea. Try the following tips.
Remember, the more you drink in one session the more likely you are to lose sight of your quitting goals. Use the drink-driving limits as a guideline: if you’re getting drunk enough so that you can’t drive, you’re moving into a high-risk situation for slip-up or relapse, so don’t have another drink for at least an hour.
One of the most challenging things about quitting can be attending social situations where you’re used to smoking.
For many smokers having a cigarette with smoking friends – especially at a party and perhaps with a drink - is a well-entrenched habit. But this is a situation you have the power to overcome. You might be surprised how much a bit of planning and a few changes in your routine can help.
Living with a smoker can be a challenge when you’re trying to quit. It’s not easy to get smoking thoughts out of your mind when someone else is smoking in front of you. Be honest with your smoking housemate or partner and negotiate how much they’re willing to support your quitting.
A part of what makes smoking a pleasure and what causes some urges to smoke once you’ve quit, is catching up with your partner or housemates over a cigarette:
While having a smoker at home is initially a challenge, most people who end up quitting for good will say that it was a challenge for the first week or two but that it stopped being a temptation and they got used to it.
An added bonus of being the first in the household to quit is that it often inspires others to quit too.
Once you’ve been quit for a while, you begin to master day-to-day challenges and smaller stresses. After around two or three weeks, many people have whole days without cravings or smoking thoughts, which brings confidence. However there are still a few common traps waiting to trip you up:
“Just one won’t hurt”, “Just for tonight”, “I’ve gone long enough now as a nonsmoker”, “I’m in control and I won’t get addicted again”, are all warning signs. For most daily smokers there is no going back to being an occasional, social smoker. And even if you could, there’s no safe level of smoking anyway. Talk yourself down from acting on the thought.
On holidays, memories of smoking can return.
Sometimes the relaxing atmosphere does it or the fact that you’re noticing other people smoking or that cigarettes are really cheap (e.g. on holiday in Europe or Asia). You tell yourself that you’re on holidays and the normal rules don’t apply. More often than not in this scenario, smoking will follow you home and you’ll be a full time smoker all over again.
Another trap is returning from a holiday (particularly if you took the opportunity to quit while you’re out of your normal routine). The benefit of not having normal triggers around is gone and the minute you get home and you’re reminded of smoking again.
See managing routines so that you don’t get caught off-guard.
Returning to past situations where you used to smoke e.g. a school reunion, an old workplace or somewhere you used to live, can evoke strong memories of being a smoker. These memories can in turn evoke sudden strong cravings. Expect these cravings to happen, acknowledge them for what they are – just memories of smoking – and let them pass.
A major stressful situation is the most common explanation people give when you ask what caused their relapse back to smoking. A funeral, sudden bad news, a major argument with someone or a relationship breakup, are all examples of scenarios that can bring on smoking thoughts. They can make you feel that the normal rules don’t apply.
Think of these smoking thoughts as memory flashes. Resist the temptation and the urges should pass.
Your mind is experiencing stress and is remembering that you used to have a cigarette to temporarily “manage” the situation. But that was on old (and flawed) coping mechanism, and going back to it ruins your goal of being a nonsmoker. Remind yourself of the smarter and healthier ways you’ve been managing stress in the short term (e.g. deep breathing, muscle relaxation, mindfulness).