Staying tobacco-free

Staying quit is the final, longest, and most important stage of the process. You can use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal. Plan ahead for those times when you may be tempted to use tobacco. Think about other ways to cope with these situations.

More dangerous, perhaps, are the unexpected strong desires to use tobacco that crop up months or even years after you’ve quit. Rationalizations can show up then, too. To get through these without relapse, try these:

  • Review your reasons for quitting and think of all the benefits to your health, your finances, and your family.
  • Remind yourself that there’s no such thing as just one chew or dip.
  • Ride out the desire. It will go away, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you can have just one dip or chew.
  • Avoid alcohol. Drinking lowers your chance of success.
  • If you’re worried about gaining weight, put some energy into planning a healthy diet and finding ways to exercise and stay active.

What if you slip and use tobacco after your Quit Day?

What if you do use tobacco? Here’s the difference between a slip and a relapse: a slip is a one-time mistake that’s quickly corrected. A relapse is going back to your former habit. You can use the slip as an excuse to go back to using tobacco, or you can look at what went wrong and renew your commitment to staying away from tobacco for good.

Even if you do relapse, try not to get too discouraged. Very few people are able to quit for good on the first try. In fact, it takes most people several tries before they quit for good. What’s important is figuring out what helped you in your attempt to quit and what worked against you. You can then use this information to make a stronger attempt at quitting the next time. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t give up!

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: February 20, 2014 Last Revised: June 23, 2016

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