Q. I’ve stopped smoking several times but usually relapse in a couple of weeks. Any suggestions?

A. It can take half a dozen tries before you develop sufficient skills to change this behavior on a long-term basis. Some people do better when they attend a live-in program to get a jump start on developing new skills, and/or participate in a nicotine-replacement program.

The concept is very simple: you retrain your brain to function effectively without nicotine. The process can be very difficult because your brain has become accustomed to receiving short-term rewards on a very frequent basis. Nevertheless, you can do it—a million Americans quit smoking every year!

Remember to stay on your guard! Maintain a healthy respect for the addictive process within the brain. Avoid getting cocky or smug about the gains you’ve made (e.g., half of all nicotine relapses occur within the first 2 weeks, the majority within 6 months). If you experience a temporary relapse learn from your mistakes. View it as a blip on the screen of your recovery, clean up the pieces, and get right back on the program. Picture yourself actually being successful! Your rewards will be as unique as your brain... the sky’s the limit!