Staying Quit (Maintenance)
Remember the quotation by Mark Twain? Maybe you, too, have quit many times before. So you know that staying quit is the final, and most important, stage of the process. You can use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal. Think ahead to those times when you may be tempted to smoke, and plan on how you will use alternatives and activities to cope with these situations.
More dangerous, perhaps, are the unexpected strong desires to smoke that occur sometimes months (or even years) after you've quit. To get through these without relapse, try the following:
- Review your reasons for quitting and think of all the benefits to your health, your finances, and your family.
- Remind yourself that there is no such thing as just one cigarette - or even one puff.
- Ride out the desire. It will go away, but do not fool yourself into thinking you can have just one.
What if you do smoke? The difference between a slip and a relapse is within your control. You can use the slip as an excuse to go back to smoking, or you can look at what went wrong and renew your commitment to staying off smoking for good.
Some Special Concerns
What to Look for in a Stop-Smoking a Group or Class
Stop smoking programs are designed to help smokers recognize and cope with problems that come up during quitting and to provide support and encouragement in staying quit. Studies have shown that the best programs will include either individual or group counseling. There is a strong association between the intensity of counseling and the success rate. In general, the more intense the program, the greater the likelihood of success.
Intensity may be increased by having more or longer sessions or by increasing the number of weeks over which the sessions are given. So, when considering a program, look for one that has the following:
- session length - at least 20 to 30 minutes per session
- number of sessions - at least 4 to 7 sessions
- number of weeks - at least 2 weeks
Be certain that the leader of the group is trained in tobacco cessation.
Some communities have a Nicotine Anonymous group that holds regular meetings. This group applies the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous to the addiction of tobacco use. There is no fee to attend.
Often your local American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, or Health Department office will sponsor tobacco cessation classes. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 for more information.
There are some programs to watch out for as well. Not all programs are ethical. Be very careful of programs that do the following:
- promise instant, easy success with no effort on your part
- use injections or pills, especially "secret" ingredients (nicotine replacement is covered elsewhere)
- charge a very high fee; check with the Better Business Bureau if you have doubts
- are not willing to provide references from people who have taken the class