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Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

People who Quit Smoking and Start Again

Abstract: Some of the ex-smokers have a hard time keeping up not smoking.

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People who Quit Smoking and Start Again

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question  Local help Info


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Question(s): 
Written by: Wendy Moelker, Psychologist in charge, tutor, Emergis center for mental health care, Goes, the Netherlands.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 22 Jul 2008.

What causes people who quit smoking to start again after a while?

Answer:

Some of the ex-smokers have a hard time keeping up not smoking. Their motivation has reduced. There may be different reasons to start smoking again. For example, if they constantly see others smoke, or they miss their cigarette in certain situations, or when drastic events happen that cause stress.

The arguments to justify the smoking - and ease the conscience - are not hard to find anymore: 'it was so nice', 'the atmosphere is so good and everybody smokes', 'a few cigarettes can't hurt me', 'I've earned it', 'I will quit again tomorrow', 'I can control it now and will only smoke a few', etc.

The motivation a smoker had in the beginning to quit smoking is often not so strong anymore after a while. The advantages of not smoking are not so clear anymore. 'The novelty has worn off', but the deprivation of cigarettes is strongly felt, especially in certain situations. Some smokers think that they have learned to better deal with cigarettes and will not get addicted again. After all, they have proven to be able to quit smoking. Alcoholic beverages are known for reducing one's resistance and judgment. Many smokers start to smoke again when they have had a drink. Stressful situations are often considered direct reasons to start smoking again. As long as ex-smokers don't find another way to handle stress, they will keep on using these situations as an excuse to start smoking again. igen (Learning to to handle stress) For many ex-smokers, even one cigarette is dangerous for a long time. After that (so-called) harmless cigarette, they usually take another one. The resistance diminishes. A lot of smokers start to smoke again. Sometimes after a few days, a few weeks, sometimes even after a few months or several years. This indicates how strong the habit of smoking can be. There is, of course, no nicotine addiction anymore by then.

Many smokers who have started to smoke again feel useless about themselves and think that they have proven not to be able to quit. And that is yet another reason not to try to quit for the moment. But a smoker can, of course, also learn from his mistakes. After a few attempts he knows how not to do it and he knows all the traps. Research has shown that most smokers, who have tried a couple of times to quit smoking, do learn how to do it in the end. And they finally also keep up.

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