Staying tobacco free or "staying quit" is the final, and most important, stage of the quitting process. You can use the same methods to stay quit that you used to help you with withdrawal. There will be times when you will get an unexpected strong urge to use tobacco. This might happen months or even years after you have quit. To get through these times without going back to using tobacco (known as a relapse), try the following:
Many people do gain some weight when they quit tobacco use. This is because your metabolism (when food breaks down and changes into energy) slows when you quit. So even if you do not eat more, you may gain weight. But, it is important to remember that the weight gain is usually less than 10 pounds. And, continuing to use tobacco is much more dangerous than gaining a few pounds. You are more likely to quit tobacco if you deal with your tobacco use first and losing weight later. Stressing about your weight may make it harder to quit. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy weight:
Increase your physical activity. Consider walking. It lowers stress, burns calories, tones muscles, and gives you something to do instead of thinking about using tobacco.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Limit the amount of fat you eat.
Drink plenty of water.
Get enough sleep.
Stress is a part of everyone's lives. People who use tobacco often rely on nicotine to help cope with stress and other feelings. To stay quit, you will have to learn new ways to handle stress.
Exercise. Exercise is a good way to lower stress and feelings of depression that some people have when they first quit.
Stress-management classes and self-help books. Check your community newspaper, library or bookstore for these resources.
Spiritual practices, such as prayer and meditation. Many people have used these practices to help them deal with other addictions. These practices may also help you as you try to quit.
What if you do use tobacco? The difference between a slip and a relapse is within your control. A slip is a mistake you make one time. A relapse is going back to using tobacco. 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 promise to stay away from using tobacco for good. Even if you do relapse, try not to get too down. Very few people can quit for good on the first try. In fact, it usually takes people many tries before they quit for good. It is important to figure out what helped you and what hurt you when you tried to quit. You can then use this information to make a stronger attempt at quitting the next time.
Content adapted from the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting.
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