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Tips For Slips So You Don't Relapse

A slip is a brief return rather than a failure.

Because vaping using nicotine can reduce cravings and other tobacco withdrawal symptoms, it’s something you can choose to do that finally actually makes stopping smoking easier than ever before.

For ex-smokers choosing vaping as a quit method, it not only offers a pleasurable, viable pharmacological, but also social and psychological, substitution option for smoking and potentially powerfully alters the experience and threat of relapse. 

Having said that, life can get complicated and everyone is different, so there are a number of reasons why a slip may still be possible. 

A slip can be thought of as the first time you have any amount of a cigarette after quitting. Don’t be discouraged though, because a slip doesn’t erase all the fabulous hard work you’ve already put into your quit, nor does it mean you're relapsing. 

If you haven’t already, an important part of your quit process is to move from identifying as a smoker to identifying as an ex-smoker who vapes, because there’s a big difference between the two. Smoking delivers nicotine by burning tobacco and other chemicals, which creates tar and other toxins which are harmful to your health. Vaping is a method which heats up e-liquids containing only a handful of regulated ingredients which may or may not include nicotine making it 95% less harmful than smoking.

The difference between smoking and vaping is how nicotine is delivered into the body. Smoking involves burning and combustion, and vaping doesn’t involve burning, it delivers the compound through vaporisation.

A slip also doesn’t label you a smoker again, so don’t feel like a bad person or a failure and be sure to stay away from spiralling into negative self-talk. 

Instead, reach for good positive self-talk and try to focus more on the dozens of cigarettes you haven't smoked since you quit rather than dwelling on the slip itself. Don’t let disappointment, guilt or shame get in the way of being able to refocus your efforts. 

In fact, something really interesting that research from the UK has thrown up in regards to quitting smoking by vaping, is that brief lapses can be purposive or permissive, without resulting in subsequent relapse.

A purposive slip is when a vaper feels less likely to regress, and doesn't feel at risk of returning to smoking, so they "test their resolve" to kind of prove they've got a handle on being a non-smoker.

Some vapers who feel like they've totally broken the smoking habit, sometimes deliberately set out to have a smoking lapse, either to permit themselves the pleasure of smoking in a time or situation limited way, in the knowledge that they can and will continue to vape following the lapse. 

We suggest that you trust their findings so you don’t need to subject your health to the test!

Because there is always that slim chance that vaping can also increase exposure to smoking-related cues, particularly if vapers use designated cigarette smoking areas, it pays to be vigilant about the possibility of a slip until you're certain you're ok. Things that can help in the early days if you’re in one of those situations, is to stand to the side of smokers where you can’t smell the smoke, to make your home Smokefree and to not be in the car with anyone smoking. And know how to say no, firmly and stick to your boundaries if offered a cigarette.

I have found these two reasons the most likely reasons vapers slip. And my observation is that the slip is more of a small lapse rather than a relapse.

  1.  Vaping too infrequently in comparison to the amount smoked or by using less advanced devices or tapering down too quickly or being afraid of nicotine and going off it too quickly.
  2.  And a slip bought on because of unpreparedness. That's when a device malfunctions, a battery dies or wasn’t charged, when there's no back up, or if the e-juice runs out with none spare. 

Luckily though, being prepared fixes this, which is why I do bang on a lot in my quit support about making sure you have what you need when you go out to functions or go away on long weekends and holidays etc.

No matter why someone “slips” it’s super interesting to know that most who do, overwhelmingly report feelings of disgust at the taste and smell of a cigarette, rather than disappointment in themselves which is positive! 

So, if you had a slip:

Do: 

  • Let it go. 
  • Take a big long slow deep breath and restart quitting right away so you don’t lose all the benefits that you’ve already gained from quitting. 
  • Curb the craving. 
  • Chuck the cigarettes and regain your confidence. 
  • Be kind to yourself. 
  • Remind yourself you can still achieve the goals you set.
  • Forgive yourself and move on. 
  • Reach out. Message us. We don’t judge you, we help you brush off your disappointment and gain understanding around what happened and then use that wisdom to tweak your quit and make it even more successful.
  • Think about what led to your slip, such as your emotions or the setting you were in and use it as an opportunity to step up your quit commitment.

Revisit your reasons for quitting tobacco in the first place. I call it remembering your “why.”

  • Did you want to improve your health and your quality of life? 
  • Did you want to be able to enjoy activities with your family and friends without craving a cigarette?
  • Did you want to live longer? 
  • Were you preparing for surgery? 
  • Did you want to improve your physical training?
  • Did you want to be a better role model?
  • Did you want better results for your wallet, your whanau and your pets?

Dont: 

  • Give in to “I messed up already so what’s the point.”
  • Throw in the towel and start smoking like you used to before.
  • Be discouraged - A big percentage of people slip at least once during recovery especially in the early stages. It gets much easier after 2 to 3 weeks or months. 

The difference between a slip and a relapse is that a relapse is when a smoker who has quit returns to regular smoking. 

Read everything you can find about the effects of smoking, even if you've read it all before. A refresher will help rebuild your resolve.

Preventing relapse is important for anything that has a dependent hold, so it’s a vital component in smoking cessation treatment even though research analysis is revealing that smoking lapses are perceived qualitatively differently when vaping when compared to past quit attempts. Having the pleasurable alternative when you choose vaping means that full relapse to smoking isn’t necessarily an inevitable outcome.

Aspects specific to vaping, such as smell, sensory pleasure of inhaling vapour, and the action of vaping, may be protective against smoking relapse. Most vapers will tell you they much prefer it over smoking and wouldn’t return.

It does help to keep the risks of smoking in mind, because it can give you perspective and remind you how much better off your health is when you are Smokefree. Part of relapse prevention is to remind yourself of what it actually was that you were smoking so you don’t return to it.

Here’s your reminder:

  • Nicotine - makes you addicted to tobacco smoke, but it doesn’t cause lung cancer or heart disease or any other diseases – it’s the smoke that does that!
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) -  a poisonous gas, and the same stuff that comes out of a car exhaust pipe. It replaces a lot of the oxygen your body needs, and causes strokes and heart attacks.
  • Tar - is just like the black, sticky tar that roads are made from. It sticks all over the inside of your lungs, causing many cancers and lung diseases.
  • Hundreds of other poisonous chemicals and gases - these can go into your lungs, your blood, and your body from tobacco smoke. Many of them cause cancer, and many can also damage your heart and lungs.

When you choose to vape to quit smoking one of the most common causes of a slip is nicotine withdrawal, and either not using the right nicotine strength in your choice of vape or tapering off the nicotine strength in your choice of vape too quickly. 

Quitters say that a satisfying device is a really important step to get right, to transition fully and more easily. Joining our support group can help with this, so can expert advice from your specialist vape retailer.

Nicotine Strength Guideline When Choosing Vaping As A Pathway to Quitting Smoking.

Other common causes of a slip might be:

  • Experiencing intense stress too soon after quitting.
  • Big unresolved emotions like feeling angry or upset can lead to an accidental cigarette.
  • Even if you've done a terrific job of conquering your daily triggers, be aware of things I call high risk situations - like a death in the family, a break up, unexpected bad news, financial difficulties, a big argument with someone, health problems, going on a long car ride, a wedding, a big party, and too much consumption of alcohol.

5 Steps to Get You Back on Target After a Slip:

Step one.

Reach out to us and be honest about your slip. 

Step two. 

Remember that a slip up is something that gives you a chance to become stronger, and learn from.
Ask yourself -  Why did I slip up? What were the surrounding circumstances? And then just begin again. 

Step three. 

Ask yourself - What might I need to do differently this time?

If your method of quitting is vaping to quit, did you accidentally run out of necessities? Do you need to revisit your specialist vape retailer, so they can provide more guidance? Mastering a new skill requires time and practise including getting your choice of device, e-juice and nicotine levels right. The learning process often requires making mistakes, learning from mistakes, and trying again and again. Pivot and adapt rather than give in.

Step four. 

Ask yourself - Do I need to make more lifestyle changes and find positive ways to manage my stress?

Could I register or re-register for telehealth counselling or the email quit support programme?

Do I need to be more mindful, relax, meditate, or improve my time management? Could I take more time to myself, be more active, eat better or find a quit buddy?

If I'm wanting to reach for a cigarette to “cope” with stress (which does nothing to change the underlying problem) do I need to learn how to avoid stressful situations or ask for help for a troublesome relationship, finances, or whatever is at the root of stress?

Step five. 

Ask yourself - What might I need to stop doing?

Do I need to be more choosy around certain people, places and situations that might connect me to addictive behaviour?

Which of these situations do I need to be more careful of or avoid if the temptation to smoke is high?

  • keeping a packet of cigarettes in the house or car just in case
  • being around the smell of cigarettes
  • duty free temptation of cheap cigarettes, even for others
  • lighting or holding other people’s cigarettes
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • going outside with smokers, just for a chat, without my choice of vape
  • offering to look after someone else’s cigarettes
  • birthdays, holidays and big celebrations where I might “reward” myself
  • thinking an environment is so smoke filled, I may as well smoke
  • having one puff and thinking that it doesn’t count if it’s just one puff, one cigarette, someone else’s cigarette, or hoping no one else will know

Quit support helps you prepare for all these kinds of situations ahead of time. 

A great idea is to always post a message to your social support system before you smoke. And once you do, wait for at least three answers to come in so that any "urgency" to smoke will have passed.

No matter which step you are in, to maintain change, keep anticipating challenges and solving future problems. Avoid temptations. Take good care of yourself. Practise patience. Trust that new behaviours will become second nature in time. Stay on target. Reward yourself and do what you can to protect your Smokefree status because you're worth it. 



 

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