Many of the ordinary, mundane decisions that are made every day seem to have nothing at all to do with smoking. Although they may not involve making a direct choice of whether or not to smoke, they can move you, one small step at a time, closer to relapse. These decisions are called Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions (SIDs).

Common SIDs include the following:

  • Whether or not to keep cigarettes/tobacco/paraphernalia in the house
  • Whether or not to offer a former smoking buddy a ride home
  • Whether or not to go to a certain part of town
  • Whether or not to drive past the shop you normally bought cigarettes from on the way home
  • Whether or not to go to a party to see old using friends
  • Whether or not to tell a friend that you have quit or keep it a secret
  • Whether or not to make plans for the weekend

Practice Exercise

This exercise is about a person who used to be a cocaine user. Review the following story and identify as many SIDs as possible:

Kim had been clean for 4 weeks. She was driving home after work and instead of taking her usual route home, she chose to take a longer more “scenic route.” While driving, she reached into her purse and found that she was out of cigarettes. She decided to drive around and look fora store where she could buy cigarettes. Along this route, she drove past a bar she had frequented in the past and where she had bought and used cocaine. She decided to stop in momentarily and get a pack of cigarettes. She enters the bar and goes to the cigarette vending machine. Reaching into her purse, she realizes that she left her credit card at home and she has no cash in her wallet. She looks around the bar to see if she knows anyone. Amid the clacking of billiard balls, she hears her name, “Kim!” Turning toward the sound, she recognizes an old using buddy. Her “friend” instantly turns to the bartender and says, “Give my friend a drink, I haven’t seen her in so long!” Kim decides that since her problem was with cocaine, it would be fine to have one beer. Debating only a second, Kim sips her first taste of foaming beer. After several more beers, her friend “happened” to have a gram of cocaine and thus a relapse ensued.

  • When did you think Kim first got into trouble?
  • What were the decisions that Kim made that may have seemed irrelevant at the time?

Adapted from: http://www.oxfordclinicalpsych.com/view/10.1093/med:psych/9780199334513.001.0001/med-9780199334513-appendix-25?print=pdf

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