Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Mar 2002, 20:56 #1

At times we get past Freedom members return to quit again after they have relapsed. Some only had a few days into the last quit, others had significant time periods into quits before losing them. I am glad that they found their ways back to Freedom, but I want to make sure that they understand and that everyone else here understands the seriousness of the past failure.

Most other boards and most other people would take offense at that past line, referring to the last lost quit as a failure. But for all practical purposes that is what it was. Even quits that last for years or decades are failures if a person loses it. We don't want anyone minimizing this fact, for those who do often have the attitude that if they relapse they will simply quit again. The fact is you don't know that the person will quit again, or that they will quit in time to save his or her life.

Many years ago I had a man in my clinic named John. John was a pretty high profile public figure, in his early 40's who had many great accomplishments in his life. He came to my clinic, lasted a few days and lost the quit. He was in the middle of a high profile media situation and just decided he needed his focus and the stakes of what he was involved with at the time were just too high to deal with withdrawal. John explained this to me, and promised he would return again one day when things would be better.

Well, I have heard this hundreds of times before, and while occasionally people do return, it is not the majority and probably not even a significantly high percentage. Being that I was having 50 or more people at a time in these clinics, I couldn't spend much time dealing with those who were not quitting.

Three year later John does return to the clinic and does quit smoking. He did great his second time around. Not only did he quit, but he became a regular volunteer for me, coming to many clinics as a panelist to help people first quitting. He also sent in lots of people, probably 15 to 20 over the next couple of years.

About three years after John's quit, he was going in for a physical and to his surprise there was a small spot on his chest x-ray. When it was biopsied they found out John had cancer. He was about 48 at the time, in the peak of his career, still had children of school age and now was facing this terrible diagnosis. It was a horrible shock to many people. As is often the case with lung cancer, it was a fast deterioration. Within a year and a half John had succumbed to the disease.

I went to John's funeral--it was huge. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there. Many I knew, some because of their high public profile, but more because John had sent in so many people to the clinic in the time period that he was off smoking. Even after the diagnosis he was still sending people in.

One of the men there was from one of the recent clinics and had told me how tragic this was that John had lost his life and how his lost quit was probably the reason. To be realistic I told him that it is possible that if John had quit the first time in the clinic it may not have made a difference. He basically found out he had lung cancer three years after he quit, and that lung cancer could be present for 5 years or even 10 years without presenting symptoms or even showing up on the x-ray. Being that the day I met him was about 6 years before the diagnosis, it was not totally improbable that at that time the cancer had already been initiated and was silently growing.

The man then proceeded to tell me that my clinic was not the first clinic John had tried. That in fact, 10 years before joining that first group with me, he and John had gone to another local clinic together to quit and both in a matter of days wrote it off as a bad time to quit--but knew they would both quit again one day.

Well John was right, he did eventually quit again one day. But it turned out to be over 16 years later. Now the odds were quite different--if he had quit that first time around he probably would never had developed the disease that ultimately cost him his life.

The lesson here needs to be once you have a quit going, do everything in your power to make it last. While you are seeing people come back who just seem to be quitting again, if you relapse you just don't know you will ever get the strength or desire to quit again, and that even if you do, you don't know whether something won't go wrong in the interim period before the next quit.

John is not the only person I know who fits this profile--I know lots of them--people who could have had extra years and extra decades who lost them by minimizing the implications of not quitting or of relapsing. Once you have a quit smoking, understand your very life is contingent on understanding the importance of knowing to never take another puff!


Updated 1-29-2012 to include the below clarification:

***Important Clarification***�

I originally wrote this article before we had our current relapse policy at Freedom. People cannot relapse and simply join back up at Freedom now. All a relapsed person can do is read what we have to offer. This may not be such a bad thing though--there is a pretty good chance that if the relapsed member had spent his or her time reading the first time around he or she would never have relapsed.�

The example in this story is still an important one, hitting home the point the importance of making this quit continue to succeed by simply sticking to the personal commitment you made when you joined up at Freedom to never take another puff.�


Updated September 28, 2012 to add new video version:

Last edited by Joel on 28 Sep 2012, 16:12, edited 3 times in total.

lally (bronze)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:10

04 Mar 2002, 03:48 #2

I appreciate this article for a few reasons:

I periodically need to have my fear of dying from smoking related diseases reinforced and brought out into the open. It helps me re-dedicate myself to being a non-smoker for the rest of my life. It reminds me that underneath all the joy of being a nonsmoker lurks sneaky messages about someday having another one. This article helps me root out those thoughts and expunge them from my brain.
Failures and success are always going to be in the fabric of my life ie. success at work vs. failure to mend fences with family or something like that-but failure to maintain my status as a nonsmoker will eventually kill me and remove all opportunity for failure and success in anything else because I will be DEAD. Smoking removes all choice in one's life and replaces it with illness and probably an early death.
Lally (Free for 12 weeks, 18 hours, 47 minutes, 10 seconds)

z greyfox (BRONZE)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

04 Mar 2002, 07:22 #3

Imagekeep going

Joanne Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

06 Mar 2002, 23:51 #4

I see in another thread where a relapse was referred to as a Minor Setback - This thread explains why we don't consider relapse as such.Image

Minimizing relapse is a detriment to every resolve to stay off smoking - Relapse is a failure! The laws of addiction are precise, no loopholes exist. The only way to get past it - is knowing to never take another matter what.

Is relapse a natural part of the addiction process? - another good article

Relapse Prevention- series of relapse prevention articles
Last edited by Joanne Gold on 10 Aug 2011, 01:39, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

07 Mar 2002, 00:52 #5

I buried Joanne's post here with weight issues. While the weight issue has some importance, it should not in anyway be allowed to overshadow the concept here of relapse prevention. The most important change people are making here at Freedom to improve their health and likely save their lives is by stay nicotine free--and the way to insure to stay nicotine free is by still staying 100% committed to your goal to never take another puff!


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

13 May 2002, 21:30 #6

Image I saw the word "slip" used in a post today. I thought it would be a good idea to explain how we don't use euphemisms here much at Freedom. We call it as we see it. A "slip" is a relapse and a relapse is a failure at sticking to a goal that was basically a fight for your life. See cigarettes for what they are and you will not mince words or concepts with yourself--you will stay totally committed to never take another puff!


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

16 May 2002, 19:39 #7

Image It was pretty interesting that in last night group, one man had once quit for 6 months, one woman for five days , one girl who was 17 had once tried to quit for two days, and one man who has smoked for 40 years had never tried to quit before. Normally in groups they get to witness more lost long-term quits to learn from--that did not happen here. So in the event that the four people read here, I am bringing up some post specific to this issue--that no matter how long a person is off they will lose their quit if they don't understand the bottom line law of addiction that to stay smoke free you must never take another puff!


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:44

11 Jun 2002, 00:23 #8

This is very helpful for me...thank you. In fact, the junkie thoughts in me more often then not try and convince me that since I'm still under 30 I have time to start up again and then quit later on down the road. I first start thinking, well, I quit cold turkey for four now that I know I can do it I'll just go and have a couple smokes to celebrate. To celebrate?Image....what a truly powerful substance nicotine is in that it can so severely twist our way of thinking.

Anyhow, I need constantly to remember that this is the most success I've had over the past several attempts and hey, you're right...all I have to do is to Never Take Another Puff. Besides, who really wants to go through a perpetual cycle of withdrawal anyway?

blondie (green )
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 20:19

11 Jun 2002, 03:20 #9

Hi Joel,
I have read this article/post many times. I guess because it hits home so hard. This is the biggest reason I quit. I don't want smoking to give me cancer. I keep hoping that I quit in time. Hoping that I didn't take that one puff too many.

It is so distressing to know that I may already have the underlying cause for it (cancer) percolating or growing. I cannot and will not ever have another puff. It's just too important to stay healthy and just too scary to think about it.

I never tried to quit before. I think because I didn't think I could do it. Well, I've done it and am not sure I could do it again. It's hard, but it's so worth hanging on to.

Quit and stay quit.

30 days today

misha (Gold )
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

21 Jun 2002, 14:09 #10

I always think about the times I have tried to quit before and how painful those attempts were. The big difference this time is that I am informed about why I was having the feelings I was, knowledge really is power, and that is what has strengthened my quit this time. Knowledge and support. No more games, no more, just one....that is over!

misha your quit sister
1 month 1 week 4 days