How to Recover From a Slip or Relapse

Many people who have quit have experienced a slip or relapse. Learn 4 ways to get back on track.

Slips and relapses while quitting smoking are like taking a wrong turn while driving. You can still get to your destination, but it may take a little longer since you had a detour from your original route.

What is a relapse? What is a slip?

When you’ve been smoke-free for a while, and then smoke once or twice, that is called a slip or a lapse. If you return to your old pattern of smoking, that is called a relapse.

Most people who are trying to quit experience slips or relapses. After a slip or relapse, it’s important to recommit to quitting.

Sometimes, people feel ashamed, disappointed, or like a failure after a slip or relapse. It can feel overwhelming, or like you have to start your quit all over. Be kind to yourself and don’t give up.

You can learn from your slip or relapse and get back on track. A slip or relapse can give you lots of information that you can use to help you with your quit.

4 Ways to Get Back on Track After a Slip or Relapse

1. Revisit your motivation for quitting

What made you quit in the first place? Have any of these reasons changed or do you feel the same way now? Try writing your reasons for quitting on a piece of paper. Or, write your reasons for quitting here.

Come back often to your reasons for quitting to remind you of your goal and keep yourself focused.

2. Plan ahead for next time

Think about what triggered you to smoke. How were you feeling? What was happening? Who were you with? Next, plan ahead for that situation in the future. Decide how you will respond to the trigger without smoking.

3. Take medication

If you take medication to help you quit smoking, it is important to take it for the full course. Stopping medication too soon can make slips and relapse more likely. Medications are most effective when used for the recommended length of time, usually 12 weeks or longer. Consult the package insert or healthcare provider for more information.

If you stopped taking your medication, start again or consider using a different medication. Some medications can be used together to help you get through strong urges. Learn more about medication options.

4. Reach out for support

You don’t need to go through this alone. Talk to friends, family, and other supportive people in your life. If your slip or relapse was triggered by being around someone smoking, you might ask them not to smoke around you for a while. If you don’t want to talk to people you know, you can also reach out to the EX Community at any time. People in the EX Community know what you’re going through and can help you get back on track.

From the EX Community


I smoked one cigarette and it led, as it always does, to full blown relapse. I want out of this hell cycle of quitting and relapsing and quitting and relapsing.

So...what did I do wrong? For starters…

I slipped up on my birthday...

Hi everyone, I slipped up on my birthday. I had a couple of puffs of the vape. What I will say is that I felt fatigued when I had a couple of puffs of the vape. I feel disappointed, but I will carry on with my quit. The point is never to give up!!

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