Quitting smoking is as much about preventing relapse as it is about healing from the addiction. Throughout the quitter’s journey, there are a number of circumstances that will increase an individual’s risk of relapse. If you are quitting, increase your odds by taking control and becoming familiar with the following risks…
A Lack of Preparedness.
If the user has stopped smoking and not effectively planned their quit campaign, failure will often result. It is a good idea to have a plan in place that covers all aspects of the quit process. Consider how and when you will stop smoking, how you will manage the cravings, the withdrawals and side effects such as the “quitters aggro.” Having a plan minimizes the risk, simply because it will remove a lot of the unknown and unexpected aspects of quitting.
Having a plan minimizes the risk, simply because it will remove a lot of the unknown and unexpected aspects of quitting.
A Lack of Understanding.
It is critical to understand how nicotine addiction works and what happens to both the brain and body during the healing process.
Knowledge allows the quitter to make the distinction between a crave and a want, while ignorance strengthens the “Junkie” mindset, which feeds off a lack of awareness and understanding. The more you know, the less you risk a relapse.
A Lack of Support When Needed.
Not having the support and understanding of friends and family can be very influential in causing a relapse. This is especially true during the early days, when an ex smoker can quickly become overwhelmed and anxious in the company of others. Having online support available will dramatically assist in times of need, especially if it comes from fellow quitters and ex smokers.
Events of Emotional Conflict and Stress.
Triggers associated with emotion and stress are quite possibly the most severe an ex smoker will face outside of the early chemical withdrawal period. Such times are difficult to plan for as they are highly unpredictable by nature.
It is possible to reduce the risk by having immediate access to trusted support during periods of stress and intense emotion. Having a kind of “bail out” strategy in place, such as being able to escape to a time out area, a relaxing park for example, can also help. Over time, the ex smoker’s ability to manage such situations will improve.
The Effects of Depression and Anxiety.
Many nicotine addicts suffer depression and anxiety. Both of these conditions can weaken an ex smoker’s resolve and confidence during the quit process. These conditions may also increase the likelihood of emotional stress and conflict.
Regular consultation with a doctor and having access to a therapist can dramatically assist ex smokers suffering such conditions and reduce the risk of relapse.
Daily exercise such as walking for twenty minutes is also beneficial. Studies have shown that exercise may have a significant impact on the successful treatment of such conditions.
A Convenient Access to Cigarettes.
Everyone has a limit of resistance when it comes to craving. The more readily available cigarettes are to the quitter, the more pressure is placed on that limitation.
On a more difficult day, the only saving grace might be the inconvenience caused by having to travel for a nicotine hit. The more time and effort it takes to get the hit, the more likely the craving will pass and the quitters reasoning part of the brain will win. Having easy access to cigarettes can dramatically increase the risk of a relapse, so be sure to throw them away.
There are a lot of risks at the workplace, especially during the glory days. Factors such as stress, emotional conflict, the presence of smokers and intense physical cravings, all serve to create an extremely high risk period for relapse.
Addiction is a disease, so if possible, visit your doctor and take some time off work so you can focus on getting through the most challenging stages of withdrawal. This can dramatically increase your chances of successfully avoiding an early relapse.
During the early stages, consider avoiding any social environments that will trigger cravings, especially those associated with alcohol. Such environments may increase the convenience of cigarettes and weaken your ability to resist.
Reduce the risk by re introducing yourself to the social scene when you feel more in control. Attack your social triggers one at a time.
Coming off Medication or Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
There is a potential risk when coming off quit smoking aids such as Chantix/Champix or nicotine replacement therapy, as the brain still requires a lot of healing and the chemical dependency to nicotine is not entirely beaten.
If the user is not prepared or does not expect cravings to occur, the shock of withdrawal may weaken the ex smoker’s resolve. This is especially risky if the user is abandoning the use of medicinal aids before completing the scheduled course.
Ex smokers using medication should adhere to their plan for the duration of their quit. If complications occur, the ex smoker should consult their doctor.
Experiencing Quitter’s Fatigue.
Nicotine addiction aggressively attacks an area of the brain called the Striatum. The corruption of this area leads to the creation of a very complex web of neural networks that link memory and emotion to smoking. In turn, forming excessively strong behavioral habits.
The break down of these neural networks occur in an ebb and flow fashion, as the many conscious and unconscious triggers are gradually confronted and overcome by the ex smoker. Over time, this process can lead to a sense of mental fatigue or weakening of resolve for the ex smoker.
Quitting smoking and healing from nicotine addiction is a long term process. Beating the chemical dependency is only the first step. It is critical to maintain as much perspective as possible; bad days are generally relative to the good days experienced around them.