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Relapse Prevention Method To Quit Smoking Cigarettes Forever, by Cheryl A. Scott, MS LMHC

Updated on July 28, 2011

The Relapse Prevention Method (RPM) is a specific smoking cessation method designed by Cheryl A. Scott, MS LMHC. The method focuses on long term results as opposed to a quick fix with potential relapse likely. Ms. Scott first published her RPM series on in 2009 gaining popularity with the method. A former smoker herself, Cheryl understands the pitfalls of many smoking cessation plans and has designed a program offering life long results.

Before you begin, be sure you understand your addiction. If you are going to quit smoking you need to understand your addiction. Smoking is not merely a chemically based addiction but contains behavioral association problems and social attachments.

The typical cigarette smoker smokes many cigarettes per day with even more "puffs" per day. The cigarette smoker uses the addictive substance more frequently then any other drug user of any other type of drug. The cigarette smoker's addiction may very likely be coupled with an addiction to caffeine and other substances. The behavior of "smoking" is not limited to ingesting the substance via the lungs, but also the use of the hands lighting the cigarette, holding the cigarette, flicking the ashes, and even putting the cigarette out. All these behaviors become rote and ingrained into the smokers day.

Social attachments to cigarettes include smoking when talking to friends on the phone, smoking when holding a drink at a party, and smoking with intimate partners. The cigarette smoker must not only give up the nicotine chemical, and the behavior of holding the cigarette, but also possibly the company one keeps while smoking.

When the cigarette smoker understands the complexity of his/her addiction then they are ready to begin the long and difficult road to recovery from smoking addiction. Understanding that the addiction is ingrained in the body, emotions, behaviors, and social realms will help the cigarette smoker work through the steps carefully and patiently.

Also, before you begin, consider writing a journal of your cigarette smoking behaviors and writing down all the times you smoke in a day. Think about what you are doing when you smoke and what you are doing before, during and after you smoke. Jot down some possible options for different things to do during these times to use later in your program. Consider the depth of your smoking habit and make a list all the behaviors in your life attached to smoking. Do nothing about this list at this point--just consider the depth.

After you complete your journal, it will be necessary to pick a start date of your smoking cessation program. Though the RPM does not require that you quit altogether on the start date of your program, it will require that you give up your one most favorite cigarette. Think about the day you want to start and mark that on a calendar. You are now ready for step one.

STEP ONE OF RPM--QUIT ONLY ONE CIGARETTE: Choose only one cigarette to give up--and smoke all other cigarettes. The cigarette you are going to give up should be the most difficult cigarette of the day. For example, the cigarette you have in the morning before you get dressed, or the cigarettes you smoke on the way to work. Which ever cigarette you think will be the worst one to quit--that is the one you will quit. Do not despair because you can keep smoking all other cigarettes. If you choose to give up the cigarette you smoke when you first wake up in the morning (before you even get out of bed) try first taking your shower, dress, then sit down away from your bed in another room and have your first cigarette of the day. If your first cigarette of the day is not until you drink your coffee, then do not light a cigarette until after you have completely finished your coffee and the cup is empty--then light up. The trick here is to change one very strong behavioral association with cigarettes to your life. Give up only this one cigarette and continue smoking all other cigarettes until giving up this one cigarette is no longer difficult for you. When you reach a point where you are feeling great about not smoking that one cigarette then it will be time for you to start your second cigarette. The Relapse Prevention Method (RPM) focuses on long term results and not a quick fix. It may be days, weeks, or even months before you go to step two. Do not rush this process. Stick with step one until your feel absolutely ready to go to step two. When ready, begin step two.

STEP TWO OF RPM--YOUR SECOND CIGARETTE: After you can get dressed in the morning without a cigarette or drink your coffee without a cigarette and you no longer feel sad or anxious about this then choose another cigarette to give up. You might consider something such as the cigarette (or cigarettes) that you smoke while driving to work or standing at the bus stop. Smoke before you get into the car or before you arrive to the bus stop but not during these times. Once in the car or at the bus stop no more cigarettes. Smoke all your other cigarettes left in the day but not the first one and not this second one. Do not proceed to step three until you are feeling comfortable with these two steps. Again, this may take days, weeks or months (even years), but remember what you are after is permanent smoking cessation with no relapse ever. Remember you are changing your basic daily behaviors that are attached to smoking. This may take time. Praise yourself for each step you accomplish and continue onward. When you are ready begin step three.

STEP THREE OF RPM--THE THIRD CIGARETTE: If you guessed that you will now give up smoking altogether in any vehicle or give up smoking in all transportation venues then you are now understanding how to proceed in step three and onward in your program. To succeed in permanent smoking cessation and gain a relapse free life you need to replace all smoking attachments one attachment at a time until one day you are ready to give up the final cigarette. Step three may go on for many more months while you give up more smoking attachments that might include all inside smoking and only smoke outside. Next, it may include giving up all smoking while talking on the phone. Next it may include giving up all smoking while with another person and only smoking alone outside. You get the picture now. When you feel ready to give up that last one move to step four.

STEP FOUR OF RPM--COLD TURKEY DAY: Yes there will come a day when you will actually have to quit smoking altogether and give up the last stronghold and go cold turkey. But, you have been preparing for this for a long time and you are ready now. At this time you may want to consider nicotine replacement therapies (patches, gum and the like), tranquilizers, and other medications (ask your doctor) to help you through the final step. When you reach this place you need to be fully committed with no regrets. At this point you should be down to very few, if any, attachments of behavior to cigarettes and only be smoking out of sheer determination to hang on to your old friend for a last puff. Say goodbye to that last one as you would an old friend that has died. Yes, this is like death for many people. You need to let go and make your peace with this old friend.

On that day, the day you smoked your very last one be sure to start some other healthy behaviors such as joining a gym, changing your food diet, etc. You can start these healthy life changes at the start of your program, but at least start them now. Instead of mourning in grief for your lost friend, begin to praise your new life which will be healthy. Begin a new hobby, take a vacation, change your wardrobe, cut and dye your hair--begin a new you. You will, on occasion, possibly have some cravings to go back--especially when you are emotionally upset. Be sure to find new ways to cope with stress and also celebrate good times. Smokers not only smoked while emotionally down but also while emotionally up. Your journey has been difficult--but you have succeded so praise and reward yourself. You will never be sorry you quit smoking and begin breathing easier and smelling fine. You will save money and gain new non smoking friends and activities. Congratulations! I'd love to hear your success story!


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    • cherylscott profile image

      cherylscott 6 years ago from US

      I want to hear success stories !

    • KatieP ThinEnough profile image

      Katie Paul 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      As a smoker who has tried all sorts of quit programs, this is the first time I have heard of RPM. It sounds perfectly sane and doable. The thought of having NO cigarettes is too scary, but just cutting down a bit at a time is a great idea.

      Thanks for an informative and well written article.