Joel's Reinforcement Library
I Know I Will Quit Again
"I don't know what happened. I just went back to smoking. But I know I will quit again." I often encounter similar remarks from people who relapse to smoking. While the smoker may not recognize what led to the relapse, the reason is obvious to anyone understanding addiction. The person took a drag on a cigarette.
While the situation that causes the first puff varies, the end result is inevitably the same. The first puff causes a second. It may be a minute, a day or even a week later. In some extreme cases even a longer time will pass. But the length of time is not important. The addictive process has been set into motion. Either the smoker becomes hooked immediately or gets a false sense of confidence leading to another drag, and still another. Eventually the addiction will be reinforced, and once again the smoker is hooked to the deadly substance--nicotine.
So what about the idea that the smoker will just quit again some other time? There are two flaws in this concept. First, the smoker may never again get the desire, strength or opportunity to quit. When dealing with deadly substances, death may result and, sometimes, without advance warning.
But, often, the smoker does have the opportunity to quit again. The only problem is that if he didn't understand what prompted relapse the first time, the odds are he will make the same mistake again. Once again he will face the same problem--addicted and unable to quit smoking.
If a person is enslaved in this process of on-again-off-again smoking, he must take time to consider what his particular problem is. His past attempts failed because he refused to treat cigarette smoking as an addiction. It is said that those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Nowhere is this more evident than in dealing with addictions. If he doesn't consider the consequences of taking the first puff, he will take it. And once again his noble attempt will be wasted.
Smokers and ex-smokers must learn from their own or better yet from other people's mistakes. Quitting smoking is worthwhile if you are able to stay off. All the physical, psychological, social and financial benefits will last only as long as you remain free of cigarettes. If you don't smoke now, great! You understand your addiction. If you do smoke now, quit. You too will overcome the powerful grip of nicotine. Then, all you need to remember to stay permanently free is NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!