We understand why you relapsed

We understand why you relapsed

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 May 2001, 19:22 #1

There are times when a person relapses that other well meaning members jump in saying they understand the causes of the relapse. Sometimes they feel the person needs to be consoled and nurtured for the bad choice they had made. I even see times where we are criticized for not offering such unconditional love and support of the relapsed person, as if we don't understand or fully sympathize with the plight of the person who has relapsed.

Well the fact is we all understand how people relapse, all too well in fact. Many people before joining Freedom lived through such experiences countless times. Should the person who just relapsed feel better that now it is understood why they relapsed? That depends I guess. If the person is here to feel better about smoking, sure they should be quite relieved. If the person is here because they are trying to save their lives I don't think they should be getting much comfort in these well wishes.

I guess it is like someone standing on a ledge of a building. Do you want people standing on the ground giving them reasons not to jump or people hearing all the woes in the individual's life and saying, "Gosh, I understand what you are saying. I feel that way too. I guess if I were in your shoes I would jump too. Don't feel guilty though, we understand."

I don't want this statement to be read as a mockery of the people trying to help. I am trying to make an illustration here. It is obvious that the difference is if they jump they will die. But please understand, that if a person relapses and doesn't quit, they are likely to face the same fate, just time delayed. Yes if you saw a person on a ledge, you would try to use empathy. But the empathy would be in for form of explaining that you understand their plight but you disapprove of their current tactic to deal with it. There are better ways to resolve their problems than killing themselves. The same concepts hold true for taking a puff. You may understand the feelings the person had, you may have even felt them at some point. But you don't give into the feeling because the implication is smoking and that can lead to death.

I sometimes see responses here that there are other boards that are more accepting of relapse, in fact they see it as a normal and acceptable process. This is a very accurate statement and I do think that if anyone here feels we are too tough they should look at the other sites. I do believe the majority people who are here came to us because they are looking for a niche group, a kind of understanding and support that is not available elsewhere. If you are dead serious about quitting smoking I think you have found the right place to be and I hope you stay. But if our philosophy is too restricting, why try to change us. Trying to alter our premise is as unfair as our members going to other sites and trying to change them. We don't do it, we are very tolerant of the other sites and understand that some people will be happier there. But deep down we are not very hopeful that they will be more successful there.

As always, everyone should be focused on making it through today. Whether this is your first day or thousandth day, it will be a much better day if you walk away with the understanding that no matter what happens in your life, either issues of great happiness or sadness, importance or mediocrity, exhilaration of shear dullness, no matter what the circumstances the only way to sustain your quit is to never take another puff!


Edited 05-18-2013 to include following videos:

There is no legitimate reason to relapse
[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]Is relapse a natural part of the quitting process[/font]

[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]"Get right back in the saddle?"[/font]

[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]"Don't let a slip put you back to using"[/font]

[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]"I know I will quit again"[/font]

[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]Resources explaining interaction between nicotine and stress[/font]

[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]Are you ready for Freedom?[/font]

[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]"I liked my other clinic more"[/font]
Last edited by Joel on 29 Jul 2014, 17:45, edited 3 times in total.

happycamper 67
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

25 May 2001, 21:59 #2

Joel, it is EXACTLY this type of attitude that has gotten me where I am now today. While I'm not here that much, and still spend time on a board where I've been a member for a long, long time, the difference this time, this time AT LAST, is because of freedoms relapse policy. I have it plastered to my fridge, a copy of it in my purse (this has helped me out more times than I can tell you when I'm away from home), and on my bedside table. This no nonsense approach took a habitual relapser and turned her into a shining example of what needs to be done to stay off of cigarettes. I literally had tried to quit 50+ times over the past 5 years -- using every method possible, including cold turkey, but never was able to string more than a week together w/out nicotine in my system. Again, it is the attitude in this post that got me to where I am now:
106 days without nicotine!
and never taking another puff!
THANK YOU for giving me this tool to help me save my own life.

Triin (GOLD)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

26 May 2001, 05:48 #3

I had been starting to think of the relapse the same way in my head - as a suicide. And suicide it is. We all know how addictive nicotine is. Once you have a puff you're hooked again. And there's no guarantee you're going to get the second chance.

Image Triin
I have been Quit for: 3M 3D 23h 48m 15s. I have NOT smoked 1919, for a savings of $131.99. Life Saved: 6D 15h 55m.

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

29 May 2001, 08:09 #4

This is a particularly good post for me - I read about a member who relapsed and it really scares me. Have been feeling pretty fragile lately and have NO intention of smoking - what keeps playing in my head is; do I have another quit in me? I stopped being a gambler when I became serious about my quit. It is the most important decision I have made to date. There is also the commitment wrapped up in this quit and when I read about relapses and the language associated with the person, I have to wonder if there was a serious commitment because it almost always sounds so casual and whiney. It is difficult to stay quit but that's why there are support groups for when it gets dicey. I do understand that I'm an addict and the way any kind of sustained recovery has ever worked for any addict is to be part of that particular larger community.
Thanks for the post.
I have not smoked for: 1 month, 4 weeks, 1 day, 2 hours, 4 minutes and very grateful above all else!!
Last edited by Dida (Gold) on 21 Nov 2009, 01:24, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 May 2001, 08:59 #5

Yes Dida:

I think a number of people interpreted the language the same way as you did. We work with a general philosophy here at Freedom. An announcement of a relapse is not a cry for help; it is a cry for attention. If a person has our address to post a relapse message, he or she most likely had our address to ask for help before hand. Asking before hand we can offer some guidance and assistance. As an aftermath we can say the person blew it, he or she is back to square one, we hope that he or she has the ability to quit again.

So as long as everyone knows what we will say in advance, no one should ever feel obliged to post asking what we think about his or her relapse. We think it is one of the biggest mistakes that the smoker may have made in his or her life, one that may in fact cost the person his or her life. The person never knows if they will have the strength, desire or opportunity to quit again. They just don't know that something life threatening may occur first. Our message to everyone here is to avoid ever having to "try" to quit again, make this quit stick. The way to do that is to never take another puff!


John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 May 2001, 18:22 #6

It isn't that we don't have hearts, it's that we do!

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 May 2001, 19:44 #7

An announcement of a relapse
is not a cry for help;
it is a cry for attention.
When I run clinics everyone has my phone number and pager numbers to reach me 24 hours a day. I always tell people that in case of emergency, call me anytime day or night. I actually tell them it doesn't even have to be an emergency. If in the middle of the night they wake up and feel good and just want to say hello and everything is fine, that is fine with me too. (My family hates this part of my nature, but has learned to live with it.) Luckily, not many of them take me up on this offer but the option exists. I just want them to get the sense that there is help available to them when needed. I have no problem with anyone calling for help at any time, when help can be given.
But calling me in the middle of the night to tell me about a relapse is totally unnecessary. Paging me in the middle of the day and maybe interrupting my dinner or a television show, or even an interesting commercial to announce a relapse is also unnecessary. Once a puff is taken there is no emergency anymore, no real sense of urgency. Nothing is on the line now. The quit is blown already.
There is no real significance to the second, third or even tenth cigarette, they were all the result of the first puff, as are all the other hundreds of thousands and maybe over a million that are destined to follow. Is it that I don't want to know about the relapse? Not at all, I tell them they are more than welcome to send me a post card, third class if possible. It will get to me eventually and I can update my records, but there is no need for me to actually have to be woken up and lose a second of sleep for such an announcement.
Freedom is trying to work on the same scale. It may take a few minutes before someone gets to the board, but usually not long. While waiting the person has plenty of reading material available, between the daily posts, the specific topic areas like "Relapse Prevention" the Joel's Library, www.whyquit.com and so on. There is plenty of material to reinforce anyone's resolve, anyone who wants their resolve reinforced that is.
Bottom line. Post before you RELAPSE. Read and read until someone gets back to you. The odds are if you refocus your thoughts, the reply will not even be necessary, just a nice reminder that someone cares. But you will have already passed the crisis state. It doesn't take long.
There may still be an ongoing trauma in your life at the moment, but those problems were going to be happening whether you were an active smoker, an ex-smoker, even if you had never smoked in your life. But if you think about the real situation you will realize that your relapsing to a deadly addiction will not in any way, shape of form will help resolve the ongoing problem. It will just give you another life threatening problem that you will need to contend with.
If your relapse eventually results in your premature death, everyone you know and leave behind will have to live with the same kind of grief and frustrations too. Do you want all of your children, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, and just plain acquaintances to feel the need or acceptance to relapse to a deadly drug addiction in your memory? If not, everyone here needs to teach them the lesson now while you are alive. It is the same lesson that you can teach yourself every day. The lesson--that you can quit smoking and you can stay off smoking under any circumstances as long as you always remember to never take another puff!
Last edited by Joel on 21 Nov 2009, 01:28, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

14 Aug 2001, 19:28 #8

Image I just saw where Zep brought up a post that you should go back in our historic threads to see people's reactions when they have relapsed. Since we don't have members relapsing daily any more, and even if one does he or she can't post about it, it can make people think that relapse isn't still a big risk. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Relapse remains a risk for every member here who ever allows him or self to think that they are now stronger than cigarettes. What you all have accomplished up to this point is being smarter than cigarettes--not stronger. Your knowledge is what made you able to quit in the first place and what will keep this quit going. The one piece of knowledge that you all must keep reinforced is the knowledge that you are an addict, in recovery and are slowly becoming asymptomatic. But even when every trace of negative physical and emotional feelings of your life as a smoker are gone, the addiction is still there, lying dormant and innocuous. One puff and the whole addiction can come back in full force.

So never allow yourself to feel a sense of complacency or forget the active addiction you escaped from the day you quit smoking. You escaped with your life and that is tragically something many smokers never accomplish. To avoid ever being caught in the grip of active addiction always remember to never take another puff!


marty (gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

14 Aug 2001, 20:38 #9

Hi Joel
You talk about quitters being "smarter than cigarettes" and I think the point gets lost in the language. Cigarettes aren't "smart" in any sense of the word. My pet hamster is smarter than cigarettes, so what's the big deal? Where we have to be "smart" is in knowing and accepting that we cannot challenge the addiction head on without the virtual certainty of a full relapse. What you nicely describe as "You can have none, or you can have all, but you can't have one". People that I see relapse here have read your articles about nicotine addiction, but they either don't accept the truth of the facts, or more likely they simply believe that they are the exception. My instinct is that these people aren't stupid, they're "smart" enough, but they're arrogant. They simply can't accept that they are too weak to control their own brains, and those funny little things in them called neuroreceptors. They're too proud to accept that their lives can be controlled by a mere addiction.
I think one of our newbies, MMzMarg, put it perfectly in her recent first post when she said
"I am not fighting nicotine - that fight is over, the nicotine won... all I have to do is surrender & walk away from the ring. I guess what I'm saying is that for me the fight is over and in surrender lies victory."
It is that willingness to accept the strength of nicotine addiction, that humility, that enables us to achieve a victory over nicotine. And that willingness comes firstly from accepting the facts about the addictive powers of nicotine addiction that we read here, and secondly from the experiences related to us here by ex-relapsers. It's interesting that in the past week there have been two newbies who have said "I thought after XX years quitting I could control my smoking, I smoked one, and then....."
I suppose we have little idea how many members here relapse. It would be interesting to know how many, but more interesting to know why. It always saddened me to read about relapse here in the old days, and it always made me mad to think about how they had wasted the education they got here. But maybe there are physiological reasons, not just mental ones, why some people relapse. Maybe we still need more research into addiction and relapse. In the meantime, I think all we can do is hammer home the facts that we do have at our disposal.
Last edited by marty (gold) on 21 Nov 2009, 01:30, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

14 Aug 2001, 20:51 #10

I too liked MMzMarg (post 14 in the string) post where she wrote this. Her statement shows what I am referring to as being smarter than cigarettes. It is when people start to say or think that they are stronger that you can tell that they don't understand the first rule of addiction in general, being powerless over the substance.

Quitting successfully is a matter of getting educated and staying off is a matter of remembering what you learned. You become smarter on a topic when you learn the facts about it. You will stay smarter on that topic as long as you don't forget what you learned. The way to prove you are smarter about quitting now than when you joined up at Freedom is to continue to prove to us, and more important, that you continue to prove to yourself that you are smart enough to recognize that the way to stay smoke free is to never take another puff!