While some people can stop smoking once and for all at the first attempt, many smokers relapse. Sometimes they relapse several times before feeling confident that they have stopped for good. At one point Haseen had found it difficult to imagine himself not smoking, and Mariam said each attempt at quitting was harder because the habit of smoking was more familiar.
Ex-smokers have to contend with strong associations and old habits which meant they were prompted to smoke in particular company or circumstances. Alcohol was often mentioned as a particular prompt to start smoking again. There was always a danger of giving in to just ‘one cigarette’ on a night out, or on a casual basis, which could sometimes lead to their smoking as much as or more than before they quit.
Miles always had an association in his mind between smoking and drinking.
Gareth said that when he met old friends and went for a drink he might end up smoking.
A crisis or stressful period could also trip people up and prompt them to reach for a cigarette. Crises that people linked to starting smoking again included going through relationship break up or divorce or the death of someone close.
Sue had given up for a number of years before she enrolled at university as a mature student and started again because of the stress.
After a difficult day at work, Mariam’s colleague, who was upset, encouraged her to have a cigarette. She started smoking again.
Andy remembered kidding himself’ about wanting to give up smoking when he still enjoyed it.
Jules thought that it wasn’t the method he tried that made the difference, but rather whether he wanted to smoke or not.
One of the strongest messages that people who had given up smoking wanted to pass on to others was that, no matter how many times you’ve tried, it is always worth trying again. Some people had friends and colleagues who were still smoking and who they suspected wanted to sabotage their quit attempt. Mariam remarked that it was human nature to subconsciously try to keep other people ‘in the trap’ with you.
Judith thinks that some people who still smoke can try to undermine your quit attempts in subtle and less subtle ways. “It’s important not to be discouraged if you relapse just try again!. [TEXT ONLY]
Falling off the wagon can be discouraging, but as Caroline points out, those who can work out why they smoke and why they want to give up may even find it easier to quit than they expect.