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Mary Ella’s Weekly Message
April 11, 2011
Slipping vs. Relapse
I’m often asked about the difference between a slip and relapse. If a person is trying to quit and has a cigarette, are they right back to being a smoker? It doesn’t have to be, as long as they understand that they had a slip and deal with it correctly so they can quit for good.
A slip is unplanned; it’s a spur of the moment lapse in judgment when temptation takes over. After a slip, strong feelings of guilt and remorse are usually felt. Although a slip can lead to relapse, it doesn’t have to. Think of a slip as getting lost on your way to somewhere. You don’t give up the whole trip because you’re lost. You find your way to the correct road and keep going on to your destination.
A relapse is more serious than a slip. It may start with a slip, but quickly escalates into old patterns of behavior and before you know it you’re back to where you started before your Quit Day. Using the same trip analogy, you get lost and you make a decision that you’re not going to your destination—you’re going to continue down another path instead.
There are many reasons for slips and for relapse. Think about your feelings if you slip. If your thinking is negative, then change your thought pattern immediately. Focus on positive thoughts instead: Tell yourself that you’re working hard to stay on the smokefree path, that you are strong and that you are getting right back on track.
Planning is the key in preventing slips and relapse. It is important to consider what might lead to a slip, and then avoid those slippery places until you’re feeling stronger. What would you do differently this time if faced with the same temptation?
If you find yourself slipping, go to the American Lung Association’s Quitter in You site for some motivation to stay on track: www.quitterinyou.org. Watch the videos of others that have walked in your shoes. You’ll even see a video of me talking about how to quit!
You have worked so hard to gain your freedom—nothing is worth jeopardizing that with a slip that could lead to relapse. Download the “What to Do if you get off Track” handout.
This is my top 10 list of ways to cope with a slip:
- Make a new plan to cope with cravings.
- Keep your list of reasons to quit with you so that you can look at it when you feel tempted.
- Concentrate on the benefits of quitting.
- Ask family members, co-workers and friends to support your effort to stay smokefree and give them specific suggestions of ways that they can help you.
- Tell yourself, over and over again, “I can QUIT smoking!” Smile when you say that!
- Practice deep breathing.
- Drink water—lots of it.
- Sign a contract with your buddy to stay smokefree for 48 hours. When that time is up, sign another one.
- Increase your physical activity. Spend 30 minutes today being active.
- Reward yourself with something meaningful to you.
Don’t let one slip, or a day of slipping or a weekend of slipping get a grip on you. You’re in the right place to help yourself!
I’ll see you on the Message Boards! :-) Mary Ella
Don’t forget: If you’re in the Premium program and want help fast on the Message Boards, put “HELP NOW” in the subject line of your post. If you’re looking to offer help, watch for those, “HELP NOW” posts and alert your other FFS Online buddies to offer some assistance as well.