Call Me A Quitter

07 Jan 2001, 08:08#1

Yesterday when I was online feverishly trying to process applications and answer emails, I saw a past clinic graduate show up in my buddy list. I flashed off a quick email to him telling him to drop by Freedom and make a post. My reasons was he was a long-term ex-smoker, 12 years now. Most of the responses you see here at Freedom are from people off two years or most actually much less. Then is not surprising since most people here quit in online experiences and we have only been around about a year and a half.

So I figured hearing from people off longer time periods will help to make people realize that longer term quitting is a real possibility and that even after more than a decade, the importance and gratitude felt by people for quitting smoking is deep and heartfelt. I am a little embarrased posting this letter for John laid more praise and credit on me than on his own resolve. This was truly his effort and his victory. Just as it is for each of you, off for a day or off for a year, you each are responsible for your quits. Again, we try to supply education and understanding here, but you are all supplying the motivation and the effort. Take a bow everyone, you are all smoke free and healthier fot it.

Joel

Just call me a "quitter!"

I began smoking when I was 15 years old and smoked through age 50. Over those 35 years, my smoking habit grew from two cigarettes a day as a youth to something over 3 and a half to 4 packs a day as an adult. As a teenager and young adult not much was known about the effects of smoking. In fact, the only thing my mother could say is that "smoking will stunt your growth."

To me, smoking became a chemical addiction and an emotional habit. Inside my deepest thoughts, I knew smoking was absolutely going to "kill" me. In fact, I had this dreaded picture in my head: I saw myself craving a cigarette and taking another puff through a tube in my throat as I lay in a hospital bed dying of cancer. I decided many times to stop and in some cases was able to stop for a day or two. It seemed the more I tried to stop, the more I seemed to smoke. I tried every type of stop smoking program known to man. I tried nicotine patches and nicotine gum, hypnotism, biofeedback and a wide variety of Smoke Enders programs. Hypnotism worked briefly once lasting a few days. But, once I returned to smoking and tried hypnotism a second and third time, it had no affect on my worsening habit.

It is still difficult for me to intelligently discuss or try to describe the utter stupidity and despair one feels when hooked on cigarettes. As a well educated, senior executive of a fortune 500 corporation, I could never rationalize this dark side of my life. In the business world, I truly felt brilliant, vibrant, highly motivated and deployed my gifts with a keen sense of self-discipline. Yet, with all my mental prowess's and business acumen, I could not break this deadly habit. I was hopelessly adrift in a sea of private despair with no way out. Thank goodness I never got into any kind of drugs or things would have been much worse. In Joel's program, I sat next to someone who told me he had beaten a cocaine habit but still was having trouble trying to stop smoking. Another person, a heart surgeon, confided in me how he would sneak into a closet next to the operating room just to get a few puffs.

For me, Joel presented a, comprehensive smoking cessation platform that addressed smoking habits from a chemical, mental, emotional and psychological point of view. He was able to help us break down and compartmentalize our habits into definable and treatable functions. Joel's smoking cessation program was the one and only program that totally cured me of my smoking habit. After many untold years of trying, I was able to not only stop smoking but importantly, permanently quit and "never took another puff."

After smoking for 35 plus years, I remain totally smoke free for some 12 years now. In my heart, I know I do not deserve to be alive for all the systemic damage I did to my mind and body. The fact that I am alive today is nothing short of a miracle as far as I'm concerned. And, Joel Spitzer is a saint who quietly walks this earth helping people such as myself come through the torrid experience of trying to stop smoking.

So, just call me a "quitter" who is grateful to be alive and talk about it!
Last edited by Joel on 16 Mar 2009, 22:55, edited 1 time in total.
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16 Jan 2001, 07:31#2

Different people handle this differently. Some call themselves non-smokers, some call themselves ex-smokers, some call themselves quitters. When it comes down to it, all that is important is that you never take another puff. How you describe to others is your choice. That is the nice thing about being an ex-smoker or non-smoker or a quitter. You have lots of choices, you are basically in control of your destiny. Smokers, people currently feeding their addictions have lost control, they have relinquished it to a pharmacologic agent whose only intent is to keep the smoker smoking until death. Keep control of your own health and life, never take another puff!

Joel
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16 Jan 2001, 09:26#3

That is a very inspirational story, gives me shivers up my spine and a hope in my heart that one day I too can say that I have quit for 12 years. Thank you for sharing your story...Gaby
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17 Jan 2001, 02:53#4

Twelve years -- wow! I'm hanging on to my 15+ days like it's gold (or should I say like it's the life preserver that it is). I want to be constantly aware how grateful I am that I am not smoking. And I'm grateful to Quitter and Joel and all the rest of you people out there who have been keeping me so inspired the last few days. Boy, what a support group -- everyone should feel really proud.
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16 Feb 2001, 00:09#5

I saw where one a new member was concerned about an upcoming business trip as well as future upcoming trips. I remember that being a concern of the person who wrote this letter for he was a big traveller for business purposes when in the clinic. Well many years later and I bet tens of thousands if not over a hundred thousand flying miles later, business traveling and vacationing, travelling has been accomplished and not smoking is still an exciting part of his new life. Whether at home, at work or even abroad, you all will face these fears of how will this or that go without smoking. But you will succeed as long as you stay focused on the importance of your quit. You will have one new trial after another and hopefully, get through it successfully and hopefully you will all take great pride and self-appeciation for the gift you have given yourself when you quit. To keep this quit a permanent fixture in your life, always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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17 Feb 2001, 01:21#6

That does it for me. After 11 weeks, I have no problem with not taking another puff TOMORROW, but next year somehow feels far more difficult to be certain of.

I had been worrying about a business trip next week, but after all the ideas and thoughts that have been presented to me on the board, and as the trip gets nearer, I'm getting less and less worried.

That letter from a 12-year quitter really helps to give me long-term confidence. Thanks.

Marty
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17 Feb 2001, 01:29#7

I pray that I will stand strong and 12 years from now I hope there will be no smokers to tell my story to....... What a wonderful
thing to have smoking be somrthing done in the olden days!!! Tessa
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06 Apr 2001, 20:05#8

For Happycamper (see the article I am astounded at my stupidity) and for Rory.

Rory, I may have contact with this person once every three months or so, sometimes even longer stretches pass. Many of my clinic graduates from over 20 years ago I may have only annual or semiannual contact with, and some, because of lost numbers or having moved out of the area, I may never see. But often I run into people who I have not seen or heard from for years who are not smoking and ever so excited to see me and share the news. Are they daily thinking of me or the clinic? I sincerely doubt it. But I can see by their reactions that not smoking is still a big deal to them, a major life accomplishment. Do I feel bad that I haven't seen them in years? Not at all, I am thrilled that the lessons we shared with them stuck and they were strong and secure in their quits. I feel the same way about all our members at Freedom and hope that one day everyone will gain such Freedom.

The way to achieve this kind of personal success is still be always remembering to never take another puff!

Joel
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06 Apr 2001, 22:00#9

It's refreshing to know that there are a number of people who have been smoke-free for many years. When I first ever thought of quitting some years ago, I attended an introductory session to a smoke cessation clinic. I asked what was the success rate and was told that it was 25% at 6 months. There was no statistics after that period. Needless to say that this put me off as 25% success over 6 months was a very poor record.
When I quit last year, it was in coordination with my physician and the postings on this Freedom board. Thank you Joel and all of those who supported me throughout the difficult times.
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07 Apr 2001, 21:11#10

Dear Q,
Thank you for presenting your story. It allows me to see that people that our society tends to place on pedestals (all the better for us to later throw rocks at) are equally vulnerable to being seduced by powerful addictions. We blighters down here in the trenches hear about such, more in terms of an urban myth than straight from the heart. Your passion bespeaks a credibility not to be dismissed.
More importantly, it displays a role-model of success.
Thank you also for showing me how many different are the measures of it.
Victoria.
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19 Apr 2001, 19:10#11

For Melissa G:

Melissa wrote that reading people who were off 6 months or more was a real help to keeping her motivation up. Many people find this helpful, to hear the experience of people off a long time. The reason being that many people are skeptical of their chances of long-term success, actually believing that people can't quit for a long time or that if they do, they suffer miserably and feel deprived most of their life. Neither fear is true.

It actually will get to the point that not smoking is a habit, relatively easy in fact and not thought about for most of the time. But even though this is true, not smoking should never be taken for granted. It will get easy to stay off but is also very easy to go back, and may be impossible to quit again in that eventuality.

As far as the possibility of long-term success, in America today we have as many ex-smokers as we do current smokers, around 50 million of each. Half the people who used to smoke have quit illustrating that long-term quitting is possible. All of these ex-smokers will be able to stay that way as long as they all understand once simple concept now. Many of them don't know it yet, so never think it is unnecessary to spread one of the lessons you have all learned here to ex-smokers you know. Most ex-smokers are receptive to your quitting questions and support; they are already on your side. The lesson to share, which not only helps them but also will help you reinforce your quit, is that if they want to remain smoke free, they must always remember to never take another puff!\

Joel
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19 Nov 2001, 19:25#12

I saw where one of our newest members was writing with great enthusiasm of how much better life was since quitting just two weeks ago, I just thought this one illustrates how some people feel the same enthusiasm for many years if they just keep reminding themselves of what life was truly like when smoking and comparing it to how things improved once they quit. The more accurately you remember what it was like to be a full-fledged smoker with all is expenses, smell, social problems, hassles, and medical risks the more likely you will stay happy and enthused to never take another puff!

Joel
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08 Jan 2002, 03:24#13

Hmmm... never saw this one before. This guy sure believes in you Joel, as do all of us. It's great that people that have been off that long care to come and post, and share their experiences. It's very encouraging.

Now, having said that - EVERYONE reading this should replace the word "HABIT" that was repeatedly used in the course of this letter with "ADDICTION", for that is what it is. VERY IMPORTANT to remember, folks. A person who repetedly uses the word 'habit' instead of 'addiction' is a prime candidate for complacency, and we all know what might happen if we allow ourselves to become too complacent in our quits.

In order to avoid relapse, always remember you are an addict, and cannot change the laws of addiction to suit you. One puff is never enough for any addict. Remember also to NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!!!!!!!

Yqs, Diana
5 months, 1 week, 6 days.
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07 Apr 2002, 06:37#14

I saw where Bill W thought the board had a tone of gloom and doom. Thought I would bring up some posts showing that people can actually be happy and excited to have quit smoking--even years later seeing it as a big deal and a great accomplishment. John here exemplifies this feeling 12 years post quit. You can all achieve the same kind of success as long as you always remember the importance of knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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07 Apr 2002, 07:08#15

Thank you, Joel for posting this! 12 years!! I have difficulty imaging myself at 1month due to past failures but I know I can do this due to the education and support I get here and because I'm taking it one day at a time and will never take another puff! Congrats to the "Quitter"!
Diana, I agree with you re: being addicts but you have to understand 12 years ago, smoking wasn't look at as an addiction, it was only a "HABIT".
Thank you, Joel and everyone for being here for my journey to a new, healthier life. Hope to be around in 12 years to post that I have remained nicotine free and that there won't be any newbies or lurkers to encourage only oldbies keeping in touch! DebD 2wks,3days,5hrs,12min!
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07 Apr 2002, 08:13#16

Hello Deb:
I guess I should point out, John in this letter learned that nicotine was an addiction when he was in the clinic 12 years ago. I called it an addiction and treated it as such since 1976. I was just out on a limb and often criticized as being a renegade for making such wild claims. Here is a piece I wrote back in 1982 on the issue. Are you a nicotine junkie?
Prior to 1982 I didn't write much, just lectured live. I started writing the letters in December of 1981 and from the very first letter the concept of addiction was the underlying message--that and the way to stay in control was to know to never take another puff!
Joel
Last edited by Joel on 14 Apr 2009, 04:49, edited 1 time in total.
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07 Apr 2002, 13:52#17

Thank you, Joel!
I just being in my nicotine haze, I've lost track as to how long it's been considered an addiction and not just habit. Thank you, Joel, for the continued education, that is why I am here making this my first and final educated quit because I've learned to take it one day at a time and never take another puff. Also that a dose of nicotine is not going to resolve any problems. All the assistance is much appreciated. DebD
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07 Apr 2002, 20:27#18

Hello Deb:

You are not in a haze. I think it's been just about 12 years since they finally categorized nicotine as an addiction. I was just commenting on how when John wrote his original piece, while the scientific community had not yet really accepted the reality that nicotine was an addiction, John himself did. The clinic he was in taught him in no uncertain terms he was an addict.

When it comes down to it though, a high percentage of ex-smokers back then knew they were addicted. They may not have known to use the word addiction, they may not have even been particularly well versed in addiction understanding for other drugs--but they knew for themselves that if they took a puff they would lose their quit. You would often hear people say that there were times that they would kill for a cigarette but that they would not take one--the reason being that they knew if they took one it would be all over for them. These people understood addiction even if they never heard the word. They basically knew without ever reading it that the way to stay free was to never take another puff!
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18 May 2002, 19:42#19

You can see from the post above that even after years and decades, the appreciation of being smoke free can still be as important and significant as it is the very first days if you keep remembering where you once were as an actively using nicotine addict and how you never want to be trapped in such an existence again. To avoid chronic withdrawal, further destruction and initiation life threatening illnesses always remember why you originally committed to never take another puff!

Joel
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30 Jul 2002, 16:04#20

For Darby:

Just wanted you to know you are not the only one to be happy to be able to call yourself a quitter. John is a quitter for over 13 years now, and is every bit as happy and enthused to be able to use this term about himself today as he was when he first quit. I actually received a lengthy email from him a couple of days ago again expressing his appreciation for having quit and reaffirming his commitment to stay a quitter by always knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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30 Jul 2002, 23:50#21

I really appreciate seeing this today - my grandfather Charlie started smoking when he was 9 and got up to 3-4 packs daily, as did this gentleman. He passed away at home when he was only 66. What idiots we all were to feel relief that it was his heart, and not cancer that ended his life. We were thankful he ended peacefully because he was coughing so much.

For years I used his death as an example that a smoker does not only die of cancer - what a messed up way to think. When I met rude non-smokers who confronted me with the possiblity of quiting - I called it "slow suicide" with a smile on my face. Sick now to think of how messed up that was or to imagine how horrified the person who confronted me must have been by my response. Too bad cigarette manufactures don't put true life stories on their packs - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

Dos (Dubious)
9 Weeks 51 Minutes
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26 Sep 2002, 21:51#22

I saw a discussion up today about people not seeming to know who they are since they quit smoking. It is true that most smokers do not know what it is like to be an adult without cigarettes--they took up cigarettes in their childhood or adolescents, and had cigarettes incorporated into many of their adult thoughts, rituals, and daily practices. They may never have drove to a job in their life without a cigarette. They may never have gone on a job interview without a cigarette. They may never have gone out on their own to buy a home without a cigarette. Cigarettes became a constant companion.

But once a person quits he or she will quickly learn who he or she is without smoking. The truth be known, the ex-smoker is now the real person that he or she was always meant to be. So many adult decisions and lifestyle adjustments were designed to accommodate smoking. Yes the person may have established a successful existence, but cigarettes still may have held him or her back from reaching his or her maximum potential--not to mention his or her maximum life expectancy.

To find out who you really are and to have more time to spend with that person always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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06 May 2003, 00:33#23

Thanks so much, Joel! I hope I'm still excited and proud about never taking another puff many decades from now! I hope I always see it as a major accomplishment of my life, something still worthy of guarding carefully and smiling about. I hope I never look back on all of this work I did educating myself as just a fad, and I love seeing and hearing about proof that it can be done, and that others have gone the path that I hope for myself.

Alex
2 months 3 weeks
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27 Jun 2003, 18:14#24

This letter illustrates how even people who were once die hard smokers, people who thought they could never quit, can actually quit smoking and stay off over the long haul. It simply comes to a point where a person must recognize that quitting smoking is a fight for ones life and that to win that fight is as simple as just knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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15 Sep 2003, 06:21#25

Even people who are sure they are "hopelessly addicted" can succeed over the long-term. It takes the realization that they are indeed addicted but taking control over the addiction is not a hopeless venture. Quitting is possible and staying free is doable for any person as long as he or she understands that to stay smoke free is as simple as sticking to his or her commitment to never take another puff! Joel
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