Monday, January 14, 2008

Lapse or Relapse?

One of my quitters, Susie, says she had a "major relapse."

Lets define a major relapse:

Relapse is when you give up. You say - screw this I'm a smoker, I'll always be a smoker, I'll smoke forever, I'm adding the smokes back into my budget, I don't care what anyone thinks, I don't care if it kills me, I'm quitting the Chantix - I'm SMOKING.

If that describes you today then Okay. So, you're not ready for this. Maybe you should give it a rest and see if you can be happy in your life as a smoker. We'll be here when you decide to give quitting another go.

I don't think that describes Susie.

Her comment reads like this: Major relapse. Feels like 3 months down the drain. Anger. Guilt. Can't get my head around it all. 35 years of smoking and I feel like it OWNS me. Back on Chantix and will try again. My husband and boys so sweet and understanding...makes it worse, I think! Thanks for listening, Tracee. Susie

Susie describes anger and guilt and disappointment. A major relapse would be if she said To Hell with it!

Maybe Susie smoked a pack of cigarettes. Oh no! Not that! It's all undone. She'll have to start her counter over at day 1!

While I understand that addiction psychology I don't necessarily subscribe to it. I'm not a day counter recovering addict myself. I never found counting days and starting over to be a helpful tool for me.

I cheated after starting Chantix. Many, many people cheated. It's okay. No one is perfect and you're an addict for heaven's sake. Smoking does OWN you and it is hard work to get possession of your own self again.

I would define what Susie experienced as a Lapse.

A temporary lapse in strength and judgement. A slight weakness in her quit. Surely nothing insurmountable.

Actually, I think a lapse can be a very positive thing for someone who is quitting smoking or any other addiction. When we quit something we keep thinking "If only I could smoke I could be happy." We feel denied. We want what we had, freedom to smoke, back.

But, when you have a lapse and you cheat your realize a major truth. You can never have that back. Every time you smoke, from here on out, you will feel guilt and anger and disappointment. The rush or kick-back will never be yours again.

The only way to make the pain stop now is to quit smoking and never do it again. Every single time you cheat you will have the same gut-wrenching anger, guilt and disappointment. Who wants to live life like that - especially 20 times a day?

Susie, don't beat yourself up over this. It happens. It's part of quitting for millions of people just like you.

I recommend this: write down what you expected to get out of smoking. Then right down what you actually got out of it.

Did you want to feel relaxed? Were you looking for a relief from pressure? Were you trying to avoid anger or anxiety? Were you trying to hide from something?

Did smoking help you achieve that goal? If the smoking produced anger, disappointment and pain instead of what you wanted it to do, then it's time to make some changes.

Decide how you can get relief from stress. Maybe you need to take a yoga class. Decide how you can deal with anger or anxiety. Maybe a run will help with these emotions. Decide what you need to do in the relationship that's causing tension or stress. Maybe you have to let some toxic people go. I'm saying smoking can't be a solution for you. But, you owe it to yourself to find a healthy solution.

It's just a lapse. You can still do this. Of course you can!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me clear my head, Tracee. I feel better about it all today and have tried to forgive myself. You're right about how it made me feel. Terrible. I didn't get the old buzz and satisfaction I used to get. I felt nothing but angry and confused. I felt like a junkie. It tasted really bad, too! Worse, I had to sneak around! I guess I had to try it again just to make sure. I'm hoping I'll remember as I try again that smoking can't be a part of my life anymore. I think I stopped smoking for all the wrong reasons the first time. This time is for me. I don't want to feel like that again. I hate how it made me feel. I didn't feel happy and free. I just felt angry and disappointed with it.

I stopped taking the Chantix after two months. This time I may need to stay on it longer. It made me feel bad while I took it, but smoking made me feel worse.

I ask for you and all the quiters to keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I try again. It's all I can do.


Tracee said...

It's all you can do.

You smoked. Oh well. It didn't feel like you thought it would and you learned your lesson.

All you can do is going to be enough this time. It just is. Things are different now.

Take the Chantix and learn some new coping skills and you'll be a non-smoker in no time.

You don't have to "start over" either. You probably just have to take the 3rd month. If you need more -take more. Chantix has some temporary side effects that you can put up with to reap the benefits of quitting smoking.

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