Retraining the conscious mind
The One Puff Files
Joel makes the eye-opening point that the true measure of the power of nicotine addiction isn't how hard it is to quit; but rather, how easy it is to relapse.
I've accumulated some haunting reminders of this truth from the archives. Keep in mind that these people are exceptions. Many never get that next chance.
There is no such thing as just one.
Bob (8 months, 1 week, 5 days)
This is my second quit and my LAST quit. My first quit was cold turkey also and lasted for 2 years. I truly thought that I would never smoke again (I could not stand being aroung cigarette smoke and thought it was nasty by this point) until one day I took ONE DRAG off a friends cigarette because I was bored and I wanted to remember what was so great about it. I dont know what I was thinking. No, actually I do...I thought that after 2 years of being nicotine free I was in control and I could just do it once while everyone else was doing it then go home and forget all about it. I was 100% sure that I could do it just once no problem but now here I am 4 years later. I learned a valuable lesson from that one drag (that led to a LOT more) at a HUGE price.
I have had one quit that lasted almost a year, but failed because I simply didn't realize how strong the addiction was, hopefully I'm smarter now.
After a year or so I was so confident that the battle was over that I left my support system behind...it was only a matter of months before I figured I could get away with "just one". (What a horrible joke that thought is!) Of course my addiction was renewed at full strength, nearly immediately.
Around April or May of last year I started bumming smokes from friends. I was going through a stressful divorce and I thought I could just have a quick smoke now and then and be done with it. I thought I could control it. Soon I was up to around two and a half packs a day.
When will I learn that I can't ever EVER have just one again? I am just so tired of beating myself up.
I quit then because I needed the money. I was spending about $100 per month on smokes and I knew I needed that cash for the house. Unfortunately, I started smoking a pipe about six years later. My friends were all smoking cigars and I didn't much like the smell of those, so I thought a pipe would be a good idea. I was wrong - it was a bad idea. It didn't take long before I was hooked again. I smoked the pipe until mid 2000.
Sometime after that I remember thinking I had overcome my addiction and that I could have ' just a puff' and no harm would come of it. I kept smoking for 7 years after that. I was crushed that I failed but I know now that ' one smoke' is the road to defeat.
I have quit all drugs and alcohol, and I know that one drink will lead me to destruction. But, with smoking, I couldn't see it that way, and kept thinking one puff would be ok. Then one day, I could see it so clear in my mind---smoking was slowly, quietly, taking my life away from me.
I made a big mistake the last time i quit because Itold myself it will be all right to start again if I quit for a long period. I know now that this was wrong and that I can never have another puff again.
Five months later... my junky thinking crept back into my head. I didnt recognize it at first, I figured I had beat this thing down... One won't hurt, It'll make the stress go away. Unfortunately I believed my Junky mind and reached for that first ciggarette. (stupid, stupid stupid) I learned 3 things that day 1) It did not magically make the stress go away as I had believed, 2) it tasted terrible, it was nasty and 3) as Joel and the rest of the freedom crew stress so often YOU CAN'T HAVE JUST ONE.
I broke the law of addiction. Big mistake. I was trapped again for six more months in a **** of poisoning.
I managed to stop for two months during the start of 2001, and then got complacent and decided to have "just one" with a beer.
I picked up a cigarette for a few moments of short lived pleasure and certain suicide. Picking up a cigarette is a death wish as far as I am concerned and honestly I don't want to go back there. I get very scared for myself... I can assure you I was not thinking logically. But then who is when they pick up a cigarette - after the education we get here?? It's got to be insanity.
So why did I throw away a 6 month + quit, and with it - my life and all the education and support I was freely given here at Freedom? - well for the sake of one puff! For the illusion of controlled smoking - for the belief that one won't hurt - for the relief of well I can always try again later.......
Are You Thinking of Taking Just That One Puff --- Just That One Cigarette???
Why did I relapse last spring? The "why" isn't really important because there never, ever is a good reason to go back to smoking. Let's just say I'm an idiot ..... and I forgot the Big Rule of Addiction .... Never Take Another Puff! It is soooooo true. And some of us just have to learn the hard way! For some dumb reason I had ONE cigarette, then didn't have any more .... until a month later! Then one 2 weeks later, than one a week later ........ awful! Do you see a pattern here and what was bound to happen? No one is immune, no matter what you think. And no matter how far you are into a quit.
One night,(Sept 14th), I came home from a home Interior party at my sisters house. It was midnight and I was tired. My husbands cigarettes were laying on the table. NO BIG DEAL, I told myself and started to go to bed. Then a thought came into my mind..."Hey, I'm here alone, I'm not addicted anymore, I can have one because it would be nice to have one right now....Not because I need one. I can have one and that will be it, I'm going to bed anyway and no one will ever know....I'll just take a few days off from freedom and post 72 hours later with no nicotine in my blood and be on my way.
Well...obviously it didn't work out that way because here I am, 4 1/2 months later.
In July of this year I turned Gold. 12 months of Freedom. Everything I was told here came true. No longer thinking about smoking, total comfort and vastly improved health. I threw it away and relapsed. One other thing is also true. You're one puff away from 2 packs a day. I very quickly returned to my old nicotine consumption level. Just like that.
I was repulsed by the smell of smoke for years. The at in Tahoe, at a casino for days on business, I became immune to the repulsion. I was stuck in smokiness for days, and eventually it didn't bother me.
"Hey, can I get one of those off you?"
I was back. I hid it from my family for a while, which kept my smoking limitted for a while, but how long can that last? I eventually came 'out'. Smoked like a chimney for about two years.
My first quit was cold turkey also and lasted for 2 years. I truly thought that I would never smoke again (I could not stand being around cigarette smoke and thought it was nasty by this point) until one day I took ONE DRAG off a friends cigarette because I was bored and I wanted to remember what was so great about it. I don't know what I was thinking. No, actually I do...I thought that after 2 years of being nicotine free I was in control and I could just do it once while everyone else was doing it then go home and forget all about it. I was 100% sure that I could do it just once no problem but now here I am 4 years later. I learned a valuable lesson from that one drag (that led to a LOT more) at a HUGE price.
I never took a puff for 13 years.
I remember that day in 1999 like it was yesterday. I was in Toronto on business having a drink with a good friend at a hotel bar. My friend smokes and after a couple of adult beverages I did something very stupid. I grabbed one of my friends cigarettes and lit it up. Two days later I was back home in Chicago hooked again after 13 years.
Tried twice to quit, made it both times to 21/2 months then got the fatal idea that i could smoke just one, well that ist puff hooked for the next 10 years.
This is not my first time quitting, but it is definitely my hardest. If there is one thing I NEED TO REMEMBER about my personal experience with relapse it is this: that Nicodemon may let you sneak away the first time BUT, if you take him back, he will sink his claws into you twice as deep as before and hang on for dear life. It is as if that spirit considers you his property because now, you are not a child who was tricked, you are an adult who chose.
I had smoked for about 15 years and then quit for 7. Everyone was so proud of me, it felt great. Well, I was stupid and TOOK ANOTHER PUFF five years ago and began my addiction all over again, only this time I had to be in hiding, how could I tell my family and friends that I had started up again?
I have learned the hard way that the laws of addiction apply to me, too. I can not have "just one" because I am a nicotine addict. Just one quickly became a pack a day.
Last edited by OBob Gold on April 4th, 2010, 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Scary, but awsome.
Please GOD don't let me ever forget that woebegotten day on my couch crying my heart out, struggling for breath and believing I couldn't do this.
I just don't think I could go through it again.
I want more than anything in the world to keep my quit and FREEDOM - Brian, Kim, Noni - I just don't want to let them down.
It is SO MUCH MORE than health - it is self esteem, belief, love.........
Thankyou O'Bob and all the FREEDOM famiy for being here for me whenever I am weak.
I promise I will ALWAYS come here if things get rough so you can guide me with love, truth AND fear - sometimes that's what we need.
Thanks Bob for assembling this post. I want to clarify something for everyone here--this was likely a pretty big undertaking for Bob to assemble. We don't have a lot of relapsing here. I suspect he had to go back quite a ways to get all of these quotes together.
I am going to lift a couple of paragraphs here from the post If you fall down just pick yourself up and dust yourself off
, that adds a little perspective to this statement:
"Again, we do have some members who have lost their quits a few times since first joining Freedom. But I am going to clarify this, the number is low--probably under 10% and possibly under 5%. I can only think of two or three by name. Some of them are truly wonderful and valuable people to us and who I personally consider very close friends. They are people who I did quite a bit of one on one emailing with, as well as some of our other managers to help start up their quits again and we were very happy when they got back on track. But they understood very clearly that the board was only to be used once they really were back on track and had proven to us that they were really ready to use Freedom again.
So everyone be careful here--don't work with the very false perception that if you relapse that you will simply come back and quit again. There is no guarantee that you will in fact be able to come back and worse than that, there is no guarantee that you will even muster up the strength or desire to come back to quit again or quit again even without us. You may be sentencing yourself back to smoking. To keep your membership--and more important to keep your health and your life always remember your promise and commitment that you made to yourself when first joining up here to never take another puff!"
Last edited by Joel on April 4th, 2010, 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Wow....does this thread ever hit home for me. It was a night back in October of 1997 when I was out drinking after a viewing for a firefighter who died in the line of duty. It was a very emotional evening and I had not injested any nicotine for 30 months. Even though I debated with myself for over an hour about having a cigarette, I finally bummed one to satisfy my mental urge. The next day I was up to my old habit of 2 packs a day. I wasn't aware of this site back then. I am here now every day. I read the threads and thank God I'm still nicotine free. I have a new way of looking at my addiction now. I know that relapse is a choice.
1 Month 3 Weeks 6 Days. Cigarettes not smoked: 2623. Money saved: $489.34.
Great Reminder once again that we are addicts and no matter how far we are into our quits, it only takes ONE PUFF
This thread is a really good idea. Although I'm not sure whether to be proud or embarassed about the fact that I think I was quoted here.
Would it be misguided or insensitive to say that relapses can sometimes be good for Freedom? Here's the thought behind the question: lately I have been oh-so-proud and happy that I have quit smoking and have been heading down the road to complacency. I had a couple of urges over the weekend (drinking with smoking friends) and just ignored them rather than analyze why they occurred. I have been coming to Freedom less (say, once a day instead of nearly all day) and have generally not given much attention to my quit. Then WHAM! An oldbie relapses and comes back bruised and battered but (hopefully) a little wiser. This is a wake up call to me and I think to a lot of people here. You can't view quitting as an event with a beginning, middle and end. It's a lifelong journey. There is no end when you are an addict. As much as I want to believe that, yup, been there, done that - I can't allow myself to. It ****, but I will always have to remember that I am an addict and cannot forget that I ever smoked and move on. Wait a minute. That's too pessimistic. It's only a drag if I view it that way. It's an adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way.
1 month 3 weeks 2 days
Thank you, Bob. I'm book-marking this one. If I could, I'd tattoo it on the palm of my hand to keep it readily accessible! I adore Roger's little train heading up the hill, saying, "I think I can, I think I can." But, I think my own little train is going to say, "Don't forget. Don't forget."
Parker - a nicotine addict gratefully in recovery for 100+ days
Yes. Thanks for pointing that out. This post took several sittings over a couple of weeks, and scanning nearly a year of posts. I wasn't planning on finishing it last night, but felt that the lesson to be learned from these experiences needed to be highlighted:
There is no such thing as just one. That's addiction. Accept that, and never test it, and be free.
The alternative is spoken of loudly by the quotes above.
I think it's also important to note that MOST of the quotes are from people who discovered the monstrous power of one puff BEFORE they found FREEDOM. I also want to point out the silent voices. The ones we'll never hear from because they didn't have another quit in them.
Last edited by OBob Gold on April 4th, 2010, 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just on the subject of that last quote in Bob's post, the woman who lit a cigarette for a friend, I know the person concerned and can positively confirm that she relapsed within a few days of the event.
What a thread!
It just goes to show that our icons - the oldies, are human and potentially fallible. It proves the need for always remembering to Never Take Another Puff. I greatly admire the oldies for making it as far as they have, and I listen to their words very, very closely when they tell me NOT to be complacent, to be very prepared to become a smoker again if I cockily take a puff on a cigarette at any time in my future, thinking I can contain and control the Nicodemon beast.
I'm going to bookmark this thread too. It is excellent reading material to be perused every now and again.
From one fellow tea drinker to another, cheers, O Bob, for taking the time to bring together such a wealth of evidence in favour of Freedom's motto.
3 Weeks, 2 Days, 16 Hours and 15 Minutes. 473 smokes sent packin'
Oh wow. Be happy and comfortable, but never drop your guard.
4 months +
Thanks for a great thread Bob. When I first quit, I didn't even want to think about relapse or read anything about it. I quess fearing it may in some way cause me to relapse. But at this stage in my quit I could read this post. A great enforcer to Never Take Another Puff. I don't come to Freedom as often as I used to and have been having several triggers lately. This was a great thread for me to read.
No nicotine for: 2M 3W 8h 48m. NOT smoked 3294 cigs, $494.20 not given to cigarette companies. 1W 4D 10h 30m added to my life.
I fear complacency. I fear getting too comfortable in my quit. I keep this thread close by just in case.....
, Sam (4months, 1 week)
thanks Bob........Two years quit seem like a good time to return to freedom and
renew our commitment to remain free from nicotine.
one year ten months three days of freedom
neven take another puff
Awesome thread, but very scary! We are ALL one puff away...but for today--it wont be me!
Four weeks, one day, 23 hours, 44 minutes and 54 seconds. 1799 cigarettes not smoked, saving $314.88. Life saved: 6 days, 5 hours, 55 minutes.
...thanks Bob for a wonderful reminder...in my first post here at Freedom I had to admit that I threw away an 11 month quit by taking a puff off a friend's cigarette "just to see what would happen" Well, if I'd been an educated quitter and a member here at that time, I sure would have known exactly what would happen...and that there is no such thing as just one! I like to remind myself that if I ever let myself be tempted by that one puff, I then picture myself going right out and buying CARTONS , and that really brings me around with a jolt of reality! I feel GREAT today!~~~Marie 1 month 4 weeks
Last edited by freefromit GOLD on April 4th, 2010, 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This is a valuable threat, oops!, thread, O'Bob (the subject is a threat to us all). Thank you. I, too, will bookmark it for future reinforcement. Thanks again.
You never stop amazing me with your posts! Your like a walking talking search engine! This should be required reading for everyone.
Seven months, two days, 3 hours, 59 minutes and 47 seconds. 17293 cigarettes not smoked, saving $2,585.84. Life saved: 8 weeks, 4 days, 1 hour, 5 minutes.
Last edited by John (Gold) on February 15th, 2009, 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
In the past few days we had a few new members state that they had lost some pretty long-term quits in the past. I thought this would be a good one to bring up for them and for people who are wanting to make sure they don't lose any long term quits in the future by staying constantly reminded why they have committed to never take another puff!
This thread always gets me. Especially the woman who lit a cigarette for her friend. This addiction is chilling.
-Sarah (7 3/4 months).
there's some who can (or claim they can), there's some who can't..... the vast amount of evidence (in this post and Freedom in general) suggests the former are a tiny minority...
as someone here says a lot... the only way to be sure of staying quit is to NTAP !
Last edited by John (Gold) on February 15th, 2009, 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.