Buddy Systems

Buddy Systems

Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 30th, 2000, 8:02 am #1

Buddy Systems

You often hear about buddy systems in substance abuse programs. AA and NA and CA heavily utilize this highly effective and supportive technique. But it is important to understand something about the term "buddy system" These programs are generally "buddying" the newbie with a sponsor more than a buddy.

The sponsor is not a person quitting the same day; it is a person who has likely been quit for a significant time period. Someone who is more stable in their own quit because they have a myriad of time and experiences already under their belt. They are not cured but they are more secure and probably have a deeper understanding of not only what quitting is like, but more important what it is like not to be using after an extended time period. This is the message that the person in the middle of a quit needs to hear. Not just what today is like, they know that already. Talking with people only in this stage of the game is just sharing misery. What is more important for the person in withdrawal is to understand the importance of overcoming this time period. To hang in to see what next week, next month or even next year will be like, if they just don't smoke for these time periods. Who better to deliver this message than people off these amounts of time?

Smokers who never quit smoking know what it is like to smoke. Smokers who are in the middle of their first week of quitting know what it is like to smoke and what it is like to be in withdrawal. But smokers who are off for longer time periods know what it is like to smoke, quit, and stay off. They know there is life after smoking, life after withdrawal. The people who even know more are those who have smoked, quit, went through withdrawal, stayed off months or maybe years, relapsed, quit again, and are now off a long time. They have more experience than anyone does and likely a deeper appreciation of the addiction and recognition of how precious and fragile their quit actually is. They still have to work at it, but it is among the most worthwhile work that they do any given day.

These people are here, and for you newbies. I am using "newbie" here as people in the first few days of their quit, even if they have been here in the past, this is a new quit for them. If you want real support, turn to the longer-term ex-smokers. They will help you in ways that you may not yet be able to help each other. But take heart here, this is not saying that you won't be able to help others too. But your primary focus needs to be on your own quit now.

Keep in mind, you will only be a smoker in the middle of a quit for a short time period. Pretty soon you will be the seasoned veteran. When this happens, remember how past seasoned veterans helped you and pass along the support. This community should only grow larger over time. Staying to help others will help secure your own quit too. Many programs use the phrase, "To keep it, you have to give it away." No where is this more true than dealing with addictions. And never lose sight that smoking is an addiction. Whether today is your first day, your hundredth day or your thousandth day, the trick to beating your addiction for today is the same, never take another puff!

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

Joel

Video links added February 2011:

Why Freedom discourages "buddy systems"

Last edited by Joel on February 21st, 2011, 1:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:02 am

April 30th, 2000, 8:08 am #2

Joel, I love this post. It is a wonderful thing to be able to "talk" to or post with people from all different stages of their quits. It helps us know what to expect along the way. As newbies, we are very much afraid of what is in store for us and to hear it first hand is so helpful! Thanks Joel!

Penny

I have been Quit for: 4M 4W 1D 20h 46m 33s. I have NOT smoked 5315, for a savings of $1,060.93. Life Saved: 2W 4D 10h 55m.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 7th, 2000, 4:14 am #3

I saw an occurrence today where one newbie asked another newbie for quitting tips. Thought this letter would bring some clarification to the issue of why looking to someone exactly where you are for information to help your quit may not be the best idea.

It's like asking a friend who has no special knowledge about mechanics to fix your carburetor because their car is disabled with the exact same problem at the exact same time. In essence, with their current situation and understanding, they are not even capable of giving you a ride let alone fix your car.

If you want informed advice, talk to people who have a proven record of knowing how to fix a problem. In the case of smoking and "Freedom", the people who can give the best tips are those who have quit. They are here to help you and answer any questions you may pose. They are credible because they got off smoking and can see issues with certain clarity that those who are still smoking cannot see.

Anyway, this concept is an important one. I don't want newbies, don't be discouraged by this message. You will only be a newbie for a short time. Once off nicotine you will be able to assist others the same as you will find others now assisting you. Just get some experience under your belt first. It is just in the early stages of quit you will learn more by asking questions than by giving answers. But your time to help with answers will come soon too.

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

August 5th, 2000, 12:27 am #4

The posting of this letter is more important now than at any other time in Freedom's history. I think we have more than doubled our membership in a 24-hour period. We are truly excited at the potential of helping so many people achieve freedom from nicotine at one time. But at the same time, we are overwhelmed. There will be a natural tendency by people joining here today all at the same time to form internal support groups. This letter explains the pitfalls of "buddying up" with someone in the exact stage of quit as you are in yourself.

To be honest, there are a lot of boards out there for people looking for this kind of social support. We are different here, we want the longer-term quitters to be the teachers and the "newbies" to be benefit from their successful experiences. Don't be mistaken, you won't be newbies for long and we will actively want your support to help new members joining very soon. But for now, Newbies should spend more time learning than supporting others or teaching.

Again, your time for teaching will come. And you will find it a rewarding experience as well as a great reinforcement in keeping your resolve strong to stay smoke free. But for now the important issue is freeing yourself of nicotine. For that goal we offer you the Freedom Board and welcome you all.

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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

September 30th, 2000, 9:05 pm #5

Since we have so many joining at once, thought I would bring this one up. Again, we have a lot of people here to help support you. The people who can offer you the most are the ones who have the most experience. Take the time to hear everyone, but pay special attention to learn from those who quit and have stayed off a long time. They see things from many sides now. Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

October 4th, 2000, 9:14 pm #6

Again, we have 30 new members here this week that makes this one important. People come in here that have often been at other boards first where the rule of the day is everyone has good ideas of how to quit. The fact is, many people come with their old techniques and understanding of how to quit. That is why many if them are current smokers. Their old techniques failed them.

Starla, you made the comment about people who are off 72 hours offering advice on how they did it. But many of the newbies coming in are not through their 72 hours; some haven't even started their quits and yet are ready to jump in with advice on quitting. This is a clear case of when everyone reading these messages have to be considering the source.

We are not against newbies offering support, just they should hang around a while first, read our philosophies and try to understand what we are doing here and why we have some of our guidelines in place.

If a person has a difference of opinion with our technique, which is basically quit cold turkey, don't carry cigarettes and never take another puff, they can post it generally or email the whole staff and management team. But don't address contradictory advice to a person in their first days of a quit who are hanging on for dear life at the same time that their addiction is calling them back. The addiction would love to get some support from a bad piece of advice that makes relapsing seem like a legitimate alternative.

Also, we need to keep focused on the real danger of the buddy system. The buddy may have the best advice in the world, and the other buddy may really count on the person to get them through thick and thin. But there is no guarantee that the buddy will be available when needed or worst, there is no guarantee that the buddy won't be a smoker next time contacted. Stranger things have happened.

Count on yourself first. You can count to some degree on the group after that, but there have even been times where due to technical difficulties the whole group disappears all at once. Again, that is where counting on yourself is paramount. Print out your own reasons for having initially quit. Print out materials here that struck a personal chord helping you at a critical moment. Have alternative resources of support established. But don't count on one individual, no matter who they are. The stakes are too high to gamble on one person helping you when he or she may not be able to do this for him or herself.

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

December 14th, 2000, 8:32 pm #7

For Nomohack:

Use us as a support system. If and when it comes time for your wife, send her here too. You can provide some support, but having a whole network takes the burden off you as well as helps her see quitting and not smoking from a group perspective with the advantage of accumulated time and varied experiences, not just an individuals reaction who may be drastically different than the other person quitting.
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:05 pm

December 31st, 2000, 9:57 am #8

Linda, I have been reading and printing from Joel's library tonight. I took some time to visit the clubs too and was so happy to listen to the music and imagine my name progressing thru green to bronze to silver to gold. I have met many friends here this past week, and I want all to succeed, however I know that my quit depends on me....and you know ehat else I noticed...you have a very important day coming up 010301....I'm so excited for you!!!!!
Last edited by freeflight silver on April 14th, 2009, 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

January 3rd, 2001, 11:36 pm #9

Also just saw a membership application from someone looking for a quit buddy, not literally using those words but the premise of the request was the same. No one should be worried about linking up with someone in their exact stage of the quit. The real lessons here are from learning from a spectrum of people, those off longer than you, those off the same as you and yes sometimes, those off shorter than you. Time not smoking is not a true common thread, neither is time smoking for that fact. Nicotine addiction is the common thread shared by all here. And more important, how to beat it. That can be shared by all too, it is by never taking another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

March 5th, 2001, 8:00 pm #10

I am focusing on a theme today, quitting for yourself. This one letter is quite important. For our newer members, read all the responses, starting back at number 1 which is currently off the screen and needs to be accessed by clicking first. I am not sure everyone knows to do this with our longer threads, but generally if a thread is long it is because the topic warranted many responses and those responses are often as good if not better than the originial posts.
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 6:59 pm

April 7th, 2001, 9:42 pm #11

Dear Joel;
Thank you for this repost today.The clarification of why the buddy link is not advocated here makes sense to me. My quit is mine. My focus needs to be on me;my reasons to choose to never take another puff.
Victoria.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 10th, 2001, 10:57 pm #12

I see a few people are preparing for family members to quit. It is great if they do, for them and your time together. But your quit has got to remain independent from theirs as does theirs for you. Hopefully everyone here will eventually belong to smoke free families and smoke free societies. But until that point, your life can stay smoke free no matter what other's do around you as long as you never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:05 pm

May 22nd, 2001, 5:57 am #13

Just a word about quit buddies -- my best friend and I have both racked up a considerable number of unsuccessful quits in the past, mostly because we WERE quit buddies! We'd quit on the same day and "support" each other, but basically we were just waiting for the other one to give up. This gave the other person an excuse to smoke too. I know it sounds crazy, but that's what happened each time we tried it. Joel is right on about the sponsor system. A buddy may be able to help you GET smoke-free (over the first few days), but they can't teach you how to LIVE smoke-free. You need people who have lived through difficult situations and can prove that it is possible to go through births, deaths, weddings, divorces, and all the rest of this roller-coaster ride we call life, without a cigarette. So how is the buddy system working today? I now have almost two and a half months smoke-free, and my former-buddy (but still best friend) is still smoking after two attempts to quit using his girlfriend as his buddy. There's a lesson in here somewhere...

Love to you all,
Steve K.

I have been Quit for: 2M 1W 6D 17h 28m. I have NOT smoked 1494 cigarettes, for a savings of $242.87. Total Life Saved: 5D 4h 30m.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 16th, 2001, 10:32 pm #14

We seem to be getting a good number of new people in at Freedom. Often when a number of people come in at the same time, a feeling of instant rapport and affiliation by age of the quit can be formed. But as the above string illustrates, don't let this be the bond that ties you to another individual. You do not know how long this person will stay a member and you do not know how long this person will stay off of smoking. We have a lot of longer term stable quitters here, hundreds of them with dozens of them participating at any given time. Use the group for your guide, not an individual. You will be much safer and get a better overall perspective of why you quit and why you should never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 30th, 2001, 11:11 pm #15

For Iquit:
Sorry about your friends relapsing, for their sake it is a terrible thing. But your quit is independent of theirs or from anyone elses in fact either here at Freedom or in your live world. Over time people will relapse around you but that is not because relapse is inevitable, it is because they don't understand or believe the bottom line of treating this addiction. One puff and their quit is out the window. But your quit will stay secure as long as you learn from other peoples mistakes and not your own. To stay smoke free always remember that you can never take another puff!
Joel
Last edited by Joel on April 14th, 2009, 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:00 am

August 14th, 2001, 8:26 am #16

Hi
I do have a buddy that introduced me to the site.
Every now and then he checks in with me to see how the quit is going. Amazingly enough he usually contacts me when I am struggling.
Maybe it isn't so amazing because he can tell by my absence from the board that I am becoming complacent.
Our quits are definitely independent from one another but every now and then I am nudged back to Freedom to reinforce my quit.
My quit partner is family and is anxious for us both to succeed
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

December 13th, 2001, 5:27 am #17

For Carmella:

It is great that both you and your husband have quit smoking--but it is essential that you both feel that the primary reason you have stopped is for yourself and not for each other. You both derive your own personal benefits from quitting. Your quit will stay secure whether he stays off or not as long as you always remember from now on that you want to be free and that to accomplish this goal you must never take another puff!

Joel

P.S. Pass this along for him to read to. Because for him to stay off no matter what you do entails him knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

December 19th, 2001, 3:58 am #18

For Chris:

Whenever anyone is quitting at the same time as a spouse, anger can become an issue. But not only anger from specific situations may be at play, you both my start to feel that you are depriving yourself of cigarettes for the benefit of the other.

As soon as this kind of feeling happens, you can begin to resent your quit and the other person for making you do it. Well in fact, he is not making you quit and you are not making him quit. You both are quitting in spite of the other persons wants or desires. It is crucial that you see it this way, for otherwise you can start to believe that you are depriving yourself of a cigarette as opposed to ridding yourself of smoking.

This kind of thinking can aggravate you and threaten your quit. Make sure you husband reads this one too, for his own sake. But always know your quit is secure as long as you stay focused on why you choose to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

December 30th, 2001, 12:00 am #19

This is another thread we will be keeping near the top with a possible New Years influx. When we get a large number of people quitting at the same time, they often feel they have a lot more to share with people who share the same quitting day than from the more established and secure long-term ex-smoker.

People off a day or two or even a few days know what it is like to be in withdrawal and know what it is like to be in the early throws of a quit. They also know what it is like to be a smoker. But they may not yet be well versed on what it is like to be a longer term ex-smoker and what it entails to stay off.

Focusing on these last two points are going to be of greater value to a recent quitter than on what life is like early on in a quit. You will get the perspective of achieving long-term success by reading and listening to a comprehensive range of time period quitters, not just those in your same situation.

There is a great wealth and breadth of experiences here, take advantage of them all. The more you read and the more people you learn from the greater the chance that your unquestionable goal will remain to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

January 5th, 2002, 10:12 am #20

I just saw we have 19 new members join in the past few days. It is natural for new members to look for people who quit on the exact same day, but be careful turning to just these people for real insights. Their experience is pretty much limited to your same perspective.

If you listen to them along with all the people at many different time frames you start to get a more accurate sense of the true spectrum of changes that will occur over time as opposed to what it is just like right now.

Basically, each of you know what it is like right now for you--what is more important is what it will be like as you get further and further away from your last cigarette. It will keep getting better and easier on many levels and stay on that course as long as you always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

January 14th, 2002, 12:20 am #21

With the threat of MSN being down for a few days, I thought it might be good to bring this one up for those who see Freedom itself as a "buddy system."

Also, I thought it would be a good time to point out that we really are different than most other boards out there. I am not saying it is better or worse, just different. People come in here that have often been at other boards first where the rule of the day is everyone has good ideas of how to quit. The fact is, many people come with their old techniques and understanding of how to quit. That is why many if them are current smokers. Their old techniques failed them.

We on the other hand are trying to share methods ands approaches that are tried and true. Not methods that one person used and it seemed to work for them, but that you can find dozens of people who used the exact same method only to have it basically undercut their quits. We are trying to highlight the methods that enhances the vast majority of members and even ex-smoking non-members overall success.

It is not that we are not against newbies offering support, but just that they should hang around a while first, read all of our philosophies and try to understand what we are doing here and why we have some of our guidelines in place.

If a person has a difference of opinion with our technique, which is basically quit cold turkey, don't carry cigarettes and never take another puff, they should not post about it on the board. If they want to discuss it with management, we can each be emailed and we will explain why we don't advocate a specific piece of advice. Or maybe we will see your point and modify our approach.

But if a new member reads it in their first days of a quit, before we have a chance to point out the pitfalls, they may think that this advice is accepted strategy for enhancing smoking cessation. The fact is for most people, if the advice in contradictory to our basic premise, it is probably going to be counterproductive to the person's quit. People just quitting who are hanging on for dear life will often grasp onto things that are written in our posts and responses. The addiction would love to get some support from a basically bad piece of advice that makes the potential for relapsing seem a bit easier.

Also, we need to keep focused on the real danger of the buddy system. The buddy may have the best advice in the world, and the other buddy may really count on the person to get them through thick and thin. But there is no guarantee that the buddy will be available when needed or worst, there is no guarantee that the buddy won't be a smoker next time contacted. Stranger things have happened.

Count on yourself first. You can count to some degree on the group after that, but there have even been times where due to technical difficulties the whole group disappears all at once. Again, that is where counting on yourself is paramount. Print out your own reasons for having initially quit. Print out materials here that struck a personal chord helping you at a critical moment. Have alternative resources of support established. But don't count on one individual, no matter who they are. The stakes are too high to gamble on one person helping you when he or she may not be able to do this for him or herself.

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

February 27th, 2002, 9:17 pm #22

I just saw a post that said to a member something to the effect that we need them like they need us. No one here should ever feel contingent on any one person or even on the whole board. The board cannot be a crutch. For technical reasons, your computer can break, you could lose power, your Internet connection can go down, or MSN can take Freedom down for maintenance. There have been times where Freedom was unreachable for hours and I even think at some point we had days where it was almost impossible to get into Freedom.

If you feel tied to the board for success your quit can be jeopardized by a technological glitch. If you are tied to any one person--that person could lose their Internet connection, or relapse, or get sick or may even pass away. There are just too many variables if your quit is tied to another that can undermine your quit.

Freedom is a tool to help you with your quit. We are giving you an addiction education. But you need to keep these lessons with you, incorporate the education into your general knowledge and way of life. Your success is contingent on you and you alone. Your quit is contingent on only you remembering that to stay smoke free you must never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:02 am

May 18th, 2002, 4:44 am #23

Hi Joel:

This is a great post regarding Buddy Systems. I had wrote back to you before and than my computer crashed.

From the viewpoint of a Newbie, I have not hooked into one person individually. Everybody has helped me. Particularly the older members. They have given me a lot of advice because many of them have been there and done that. I am just now starting to get to know some of their names. There are a few people who stick out in my mind that have given me excellent advice, especially when I was in bad shape. These people are long time quitters, anywhere from 6 months to beyond a year. They have shared with me their opinions and their experiences. They have directed me. Many of them have saved me in many ways.

I have not created a buddy system with anybody in particular but the advice I have received has been the best... and You always manage to show me the way......

Thanks...Judy
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:05 pm

May 20th, 2002, 1:07 am #24

Joel,
Thanks. I admit the time I've spent my first few days here has been somewhat excessive. I'm on summer break from school and have the time to be connected and absorbing as much information as possible. But I know there will come a time when I won't have so much free time, nor will I have the need for such immediate support. I am glad to have the community here while I need it, but know that I will take what I've gained here and carry it with me at those times when I can't be connected to Freedom.
-Tash
Smoke free for 1 week, five days, 12 hours.
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:05 pm

July 14th, 2002, 7:36 am #25

Thanks Joel... Sometimes it just seems easy to gravitate to those people we feel comfortable with or feel like we have something in common with. I've already noticed 2 people whose quits are within hours of my own. It seems like it would be very easy to build a whole group of us, but... where's the leader? The blind leading the blind is probably not a great idea right now, right? I'll make sure to make a conscious effort to lean on those who are stronger, then return the favor when I get there. Thanks for all that you do. Your site is a life saver...literally. Michelle
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