Have you noticed some of these "lost" long-term quits?


June 6th, 2000, 9:22 pm#1

Yesterday I saw a number of posts from people who had quit for long time periods in the past before relapsing. I think one was a 20 year quit, others were ten plus years. While this is scary to witness in so many people, it serves a purpose of teaching a very valuable lesson. It shows the addiction to nicotine. What I always thought was the greatest indicator of the addictive nature of nicotine is not how hard it is to quit. I think what better illustrates it is how easy it is to go back. That after being off for months, years, or even decades does not render a person "cured."

Many years ago a man who had once been off smoking for 25 years joined one of my clinics. After that great period of time his daughter developed a case of mononucleosis, and in trying to keep her occupied, he and his wife played pinochle with her for many days straight. He was sitting between the two of them who were constantly smoking. By the third day the tedium of the situation and the constant exposure to their smoke tempted him. He decided he would have a cigarette. After all, he figured he had been off smoking for a quarter of a century--what harm could there be in having one or two cigarettes?

That was 8 years and approximately 117,000 cigarettes smoked before he joined my program. Without understanding the concept of addiction, he allowed himself a cigarette. That resulted in an eight-year and two packs per day addiction. While 25 years would logically seem to be a safe period of time to have permanently broken free from a habit, addiction is a totally different matter. In drug addiction, no period of time makes a person capable of controlled limited use of a substance. Whether it be alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or tobacco, "once an addict always an addict" is an adage which must be understood and lived by. The day it is forgotten the addict will become complacent, and that complacency may cost the addict his continued abstinence, health, and, eventually, his life. It is a high price to pay for a poorly calculated gamble.

While this man may have been off longer than most ex-smokers, his story is in no way unique. In almost every clinic I ever did, at least a quarter of the group had quit for a year or longer. In fact, in the majority of programs we had at least one 5-year-plus ex-smoker enrolled to quit again and even ten-year relapsers were not at all uncommon. These people demonstrated over and over again the danger of taking even one puff, and its ability to cause a full-fledged relapse. The more this phenomenon is witnessed, the more undeniable the concept of one puff being capable of causing a full-fledged relapse becomes.

That is why continued reinforcement is imperative if an ex-smoker wishes to stay free from cigarettes. That is why continuing to occasionally participate at here at Freedom even after quitting for significant time periods is probably a good tool to keep everyone reinforced. Long-term quitters may disassociate themselves from their past, forgetting the level of control once exerted by cigarettes. "Maybe I am different" are famous last thoughts that pass through the ex-smoker's mind before relapsing.

Come witness the shock and disbelief of once successful quitters who are once again desperately trying to quit because they thought they could have just one. The anger, frustration, despair and pain are apparent in them as well as in the first time quitters too. While you may be having occasional passing thoughts for a cigarette as an ex-smoker, these people are experiencing a constant all-consuming obsession toward smoking.

Spending a few minutes reading or even participating in these stories, in all probability will prevent you from becoming the next victim of the complacency that caused their relapse. To avoid ever going through a difficult and possibly insurmountable quitting process yourself, keep up at Freedom and, most importantly, NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!


June 7th, 2000, 12:20 am#2

......and never let your guard down........


been there, done that...............................


June 7th, 2000, 11:14 pm#3

Since there was only one reply to this post yesterday, I am not sure if many people caught this post, and I personally think it is really one of the more important letters I have put here in a while.

Complacency is a real threat to continued success. If one puff can cause a relapse after 25 years, guess what it can do after 25 days, 5 days or one day. It can start the whole process over again, and you don't know that the next time may be too much to overcome. Make this one stick. Never Take Another Puff!


P.S. I actually had one person who was once off for closer to 35 years before relapsing. Unfortunately I didn't remember the story of how or when the relapse occurred so I stuck with this man's story since I had that specific information.

GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)

June 7th, 2000, 11:25 pm#4

When I think of how many years it took me to get to this point....I think of what the next puff of a cigarette could do to me and then say to myself........I sure am glad I quit! After all the articles I read, all the posts I seen and all the warnings I've had on not taking "just one puff" ....I would be crazy to do it....

thanks for all the reminders....us addicts sometimes forget where we've been and need to be told how easy it is to get back there.

One proud quitter.....Linda


June 7th, 2000, 11:54 pm#5

I relapsed after 10 years of being smoke free. At the time it was a silly thing to do. But at the time I didn't have the know that cigerettes were an addiction. This hit me really hard when I started reading the info you were posting Joel. I knew it was a drug but I was in denial and just didn't know it. I didn't have anyone present it to me like that. Looking at it from an addiction lets me know that this is something i must be aware of the rest of my life. And make the changes that are needed to stay free. Like a non- smoking invironment at home. I've been wondering, how much would second hand smoke effect and influence a child to become addicted to nicotine? I don't think I've heard much along this line but would like to if anyone has any info. Joel, I agree, as long as this site is here I must stay active. To relapse again would mean sure death. To stay free is life, peace and joy to have another precious day to say Thank-you God for another chance at staying alive and healthy. After relapsing and finding freedom again I know I must stay close. I feel like I'm repeating my self but it has been so ingrained that I preach it to myself and others.


June 8th, 2000, 1:18 am#6

I know that I am a new non-smoker and I don't have a lot of background to draw from but I do know one thing --If I didn't come here every day and read the postings and the links, I don't think I would have made it this far. This is my sanctuary - a place I can go with my own thoughts and feelings. Here, I can express the feelings and thoughts without the fear of being ridiculed or put down. Many times in the past I have wanted to quit and even tried but my co-workers and even family would laugh and say "You'll never do it, Karen" and offer me a cig. Naturally, my self esteem was so low how could I believe in myself when no one else believed in me.

This time is different. There are a lot of people that believed in me and tell me so everyday. That makes a difference and makes it easier. As for the others, all I can say to them now is "I told you so." or "You ought to try it, it works."

I will come to this site every day for the rest of my life. I may not post every day but I will be here reading. It is the fine people, great inspiration and delightful gifs (LOL) that have helped me kick a habit I have had for close to 40 years. Linda, you and I look a lot alike in a leotard - at least from the rear. HaHaHa!!!

I am not ready to call myself an ex-smoker yet. I am an ex-smoker right this minute and hopefully a lot of minutes to come. Minutes turn into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. By then I should be comfortable enough to call myself an ex-smoker until then IT IS ONE MINUTE AT A TIME!!!!

I start posting and don't know enough to quit. I just wish you all could know how much this means to me. The quitting and the people. Oh Goodness, here they come - the tears, again. Talk to you all later.

Love to all

Kitten (Karen)

One week, five days, 12 hours, 51 minutes and 23 seconds. 376 cigarettes not smoked, saving $53.59. Life saved: 1 day, 7 hours, 20 minutes.


June 8th, 2000, 2:23 am#7

KITTEN, One week and 5 days, and you thought you couldn't do it. I'm so glad you didn't give up on your self, espeacially with people trying to be obstacles in your way. With the will power I see coming through with the nico demon you will be able to conqueror any thing you sit your mind to. But remembering that with smoking your an addict will same you the dangers of relapse. When I quit 20 some odd years ago they didn't have PC's. And something that surprizes me is that there arn't more support group for ex-smokers. The hospital I go to when needed just started a support group for people who want to quit and for those who have but need support. You hear of groups for drugs, alcohol, emotions,etc. Nicotine is one of the largest and support is hard to find. I two am thankful for this site. And I also learned a long hard lesson. Never go back, not one puff. And stay in contact with ex-smokers

The Manager 1

July 13th, 2000, 2:24 am#8

Joel I just now caught this post. Missed it the first time. I was setting here thinking about my husbands late father. He had lung cancer from smoking and had one of his lungs removed. He stopped for17 years and then when he found out he had brain cancer he gave up and said he wanted to smoke because he had missed it for 17 years and it did he no good to stop. Bert said his dad smoked almost until the day he passed away. This is one battle that I intend to win. There is not a moment that goes by in the last 2 1/2 months that I think I can have only one puff. I have seen it here at Freedom and around me it doesnt work. Its hard for me to comprend how someone could quit that long (20 plus) and go back. I was reading your and Zep's post and I have heard that the chances of me or any smoker lasting smoke free isnt good. I am one person who is here to prove those stupid studies wrong. Kathy

2 months 2 weeks and 3 days 1 hour and 56 mins havent smoked 3,514 saving me $342.62


July 13th, 2000, 3:26 am#9

Just wanted to to know that I read this and a big AMEN!!!!! Stef 3 weeks 21 min


August 8th, 2000, 1:58 am#10

Yes, One puff did in my 35 day quit ! I guess I just didn't get it ! Got it now ! Stef 1 week 2 hours


August 8th, 2000, 2:00 am#11



August 8th, 2000, 2:15 am#12

I just caught this post, wasn't here the first time that it was posted. Can I just say "Wow"? I know this is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life, and this most definatly reinforces it! Joel, you have given me so many different things to think about. I would have never thought about most things you write about, I'm so thankful for this site! reading the posts I think has kept me sane through the cruical first two days. Today is my thrid day, and if I had not found this site, I would have probably already gone back. But thanks to the information and support, I'm still here, and I have not taken another puff since I quit! THANK YOU!

2d 18:34 smoke-free, 51 cigs not smoked, $6.38 saved, 4:15 life saved


August 8th, 2000, 2:31 am#13

Way to go Carrie. We will try to keep you thinking. Here is a letter to address this issue of how to think of not smoking today, tomorrow and the rest of your smoke-free life.


"I'm not going to smoke today!" During the quitting process, you most likely woke up thinking of this concept, either with great determination or incredible trepidation. Either way, it was imperative that you aimed a high degree of focus at this lofty goal. The incredible cravings elicited by the addiction required that you had all the motivation and ammunition to squelch the seemingly irresistible need to take a cigarette. Whether or not you understood it, immediately reaffirming your goal not to smoke upon waking was crucial during your initial quitting phase.

The fact is, restating the simple concept of "not smoking today" is not only important when you first quit. You should restate this upon waking for the rest of your life. Each day you should start with "I'm not going to smoke today." Equally important, each day you should end congratulating yourself and feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment for achieving your worthwhile goal.

For even years and decades after successful cessation, every day you continue to breath and think a relapse to smoking is an inherent risk. The addiction to nicotine is as powerful as the addiction to alcohol or any illicit drug. The habituation of smoking permeated almost every area of your day to day existence. You may allow complacency to fill the void left by your old addiction and habits by disregarding the monumental effort and achievement which accompanied overcoming them. Complacency causes your guard to drop and you may begin to forget the reasons you wanted to quit. You will no longer recognize the many vast improvements in the quality of your physical, social and economic well being which accompanied smoking cessation.

Then, one day when smoking seemed to be a part of an obscure past which had no real relevance to your current status, a thought for a cigarette is accompanied by an opportunity to "innocently" reach for one. Maybe it is under an insignificant social circumstance, or maybe a major life crisis. Either way, all the elements seem to be in place. Motive, cause and opportunity are present, reasoning and knowledge of addiction are conspicuously absent. A puff is taken.

New rules are now in place. Your body demands nicotine. A preordained process is now set in motion, and, even if you don't realize what has happened, a drug relapse has occurred. The wants and desire to take back the action are overpowered by the body's demand for nicotine. You will have no control of the physiological process set in action. Soon your mind bows to your body's dictates.

You will very likely feel great regret and remorse. An overriding feeling of failure and guilt will haunt you. You will soon find yourself longing for the days when you had hardly thought of cigarettes at all. But those days will slowly become a fading past image. Weeks, months or even decades may pass before you once again musters the resolve to attempt a serious quitting process. Sadly, you may never again have the appropriate strength, initial motivation, or, tragically, the opportunity to quit again. A terminal diagnosis or sudden death may preclude the well-intentioned future attempt that may never have a chance to be realized.

Don't take the chance of becoming entrapped in this kind of tragic and dismal scenario. Actively strive to successfully remain smoke free and maintain all the associated perks-the physical, emotional, economic, professional and social benefits of not being an active smoker. Always start your day off with the statement "I won't smoke today." Always end your day with a self-affirmation and sense of pride and accomplishment for once again winning your daily battle over your addiction. And always remember between your waking up and the ending of your day to Never Take Another Puff!




August 30th, 2000, 5:46 pm#14

If a puff can undo a quit of 25 years, take a guess at what it can do to a quit of 25 hours, minutes or seconds. Your quit will last as long and only as long as you never take another puff! Joel

twovees (Gold)

August 30th, 2000, 7:10 pm#15

Thanks, Joel, for bringing up this page again. This points out a lesson that I never knew before finding Freedom, that is, that I am an addict. Before, I always thought that I could just quit, put down the cigarettes, get used to being without them, and I would get over it. Now I know that I must be on guard always and forever and never take another puff.

I am now a non-smoker, but I will be an addict forever.

I have booted Nicodemon out of my life for Two weeks, one day, 7 hours, 6 minutes and 59 seconds. 764 cigarettes not smoked, saving $50.09. Life saved: 2 days, 15 hours, 40 minutes. Vivian

R b rt

August 30th, 2000, 8:56 pm#16

I agree, this post needs to be up-top!!! I agree with what's been said by the other members ... it's always that "ONE MORE PUFF" that gets you!!! (living proof here) ... I also agree that here at FREEDOM I have found the truth about being "addicted" ... with that in mind I can proceed ... this is the only habit I have "stopped" that KEEPS ON NAGGING AT ME !!! It's true - the only way to quit is cold-turkey and to NEVER TAKE (EVEN) ONE MORE PUFF !!!
Four weeks, one day, 8 hours. Life saved: 12 hours, 10 minutes.


August 30th, 2000, 9:27 pm#17

Oh how well I know what just one will do. I have more than one addiction and realize the value of this lesson. Thanks for bringing this back to the top so that I never forget that I CAN'T HAVE JUST ONE PUFF


One week, two days, 15 hours, 42 minutes and 7 seconds. 144 cigarettes not smoked, saving $38.01. Life saved: 12 hours, 0 minutes.


August 30th, 2000, 9:45 pm#18

Hello Vivian:

Your comment, "I am now a non-smoker, but I will be an addict forever" reminded me of a letter I wrote once for Darcy on what she should call herself in regards to having quit smoking. I brought up a version of that letter. It is call "What should I call myself?" I thought you would relate to it considering the comment. Your comment showed great insight.

Hang in there Vivian. You will be an addict forever, and as long as you remember to Never Take Another Puff you will be able to stay a non-smoker forever too. Just do it one day at a time.



August 31st, 2000, 1:55 am#19

Thanks Joel for my new mantra



One week, six days, 12 hours, 55 minutes and 52 seconds. 541 cigarettes not smoked, saving $67.69. Life saved: 1 day, 21 hours, 5 minutes.

Nora (Gold)

August 31st, 2000, 12:08 pm#20

Thanks Joel for these postings. I always read and reread them although I have only replied to a couple. I do want you to know they are appreciated.

Keep them coming!


starla (GOLD)

October 20th, 2000, 11:28 pm#21

i too know all too well the brutal truth that we are all a hair's breath away from relapse-it takes just one single puff and all our work is totally obliterated. i remember i stopped for 2 years when i was pregannt and breastfeeding my children. the day i stopped breastfeeding, i lit up one. for a while that was fine-my husband would nag at me and i would say 'its only one cigarette,what harm can that do?" pretty soon it was 3 a day, then a 10 a day. i thought i was healthy as long as i smoked under 10 a day, well years later i was up to 2 1/2 packs (or50 cigarettes a day at one point) isnt it scary how easily our bodies can fall right back into that enslavement??? it frightens me to know that if i just picked one up and lit it- my quit would be literally up in smoke! theres no such thing as just one puff-its all or nothing. i look at it as a long term choice. when i am wanting one i will tell myself "will this be something i am proud of months from now? will this further my goals in life"? obviously NOT.

thank you for this life affirming, enlightening, and much needed post.

starla smoke free for One month, three days, 14 hours, 23 minutes and 35 seconds. 1175 cigarettes not smoked, saving $158.76. Life saved: 4 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes.


November 7th, 2000, 2:19 pm#22

Truth, thanks again Joel.
Today I will not smoke
I have fought and won another day against the nicodemon
Freedom is mine
Six months, four weeks, 11 hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds. 5286 cigarettes not smoked, saving $925.17. Life saved: 2 weeks, 4 days, 8 hours, 30 minutes.


November 26th, 2000, 7:24 pm#23

For everyone, nicotine free or not. It is so much better to learn from other people's relapses than from having to learn from your own.


November 27th, 2000, 12:18 am#24

This topic is sooo important. I was one of those people who has gone back to smoking after long quits... once after a full year!! This was my thought process and it is a very dangerous one: I was at an annual camp that I had never been to as a non-smoker (big trigger!!) and thought "Oh well, obviously if I quit successfully a year ago I will just quit again on Monday when I go home, I did it before so I can do it again." Well, obviously not because I am here and there have been thousands of cigarettes smoked between that day and this!!. I just pray that I have gotten here on time...that the damage done is not killing me as we speak.. Joel is so right when he says that not every quit is the same. Right now, the scariest thing to me is that not every quit is possible...or in time...or even ever attempted. I am very lucky to be here. And because quitting is not always an option... NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF



November 27th, 2000, 12:26 am#25

You sound like you have a great appreciation for your quit this time Shiela, i think that is what is meant SOMETIMES when a long time quitter relapses. You appear to be becoming one of the lucky ones. God Bless You!! Guard your quit with your life!! Why? Cause it is. YQS with care and concern Christiana