Prevent a Slip or Relapse

Get Back on Track

If you slip or relapse, don’t be afraid to try and quit again. Each quit attempt gets you one step closer. It can take many attempts before quitting tobacco successfully.

Slips & Relapses

A slip is different than a relapse. A slip might be “just a puff or two” or even a couple of cigarettes. A relapse means going back to smoking or vaping regularly. Slips are a common part of quitting as you learn to live life without tobacco. Prepare yourself to recover from slips and avoid a relapse by managing cravings and knowing your triggers.

Tips for Slips

Don’t be hard on yourself and keep moving forward. If you’ve had a slip, ask yourself:

  • What could I have done differently?
  • How can I prevent it from happening again?

Think about your successes. Remember the moments when you beat nicotine cravings and avoided triggers. Use the same methods to overcome future cravings and triggers.

Focus on the positive. Stay strong, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Many people who have quit have a few slips at some point. Remind yourself how you quit the first time and stick with the same plan to avoid future cravings and triggers. Don’t give up on your quit goal.

Talk to family and friends. Ask for their support and talk to them about how they can support you.

Don’t forget your reason for quitting. Stay motivated and focus on your goal to quit.

Manage Cravings

Just remember a craving only lasts 10 to 20 minutes and then will pass. Your nicotine cravings will improve after the first 2 to 3 weeks as your body adjusts.

Here are some ways to fight off a craving:

  • Get outside or exercise
  • Drink water
  • Keep your mouth occupied with toothpicks, gum, hard candy, or crunchy food
  • Take deep breaths
  • Listen to a favorite song
  • Stay busy
  • Call or text a supportive family member or friend
  • Change your routine
  • Use nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patches, or lozenges) Learn more

Know Your Triggers

What makes you want to smoke, vape, or chew? Understand your personal triggers so you can avoid and control future cravings.

  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Too much coffee or caffeine
  • Smelling tobacco smoke
  • Being in social situations
  • Driving
  • Work breaks

Manage Nicotine Cravings

Withdrawal symptoms are usually the worst 2-3 days after your last tobacco use. Over time symptoms get weaker and happen less often.

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Plan healthy meals ahead of time
  • Get exercise
  • Use nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patches, or lozenges) Learn more

If you are having a hard time with nicotine withdrawal, call the Maine QuitLink to talk to a Quit Coach or talk to your doctor.