If you don't own a computer or mobile device, or you don't know how to navigate the web, please continue reading. I encourage you to visit your local library, as world of high quality online recovery resources await you. It's likely you'll find that your local public library offers free Internet access and web browser use training.
Even if you've never touched a computer in your life, there is hopefully a library staff member who will delight in teaching you Internet basics. All you really need to get started is browser guidance on how to use a web page search engine such as Google or Yahoo, how to move around or navigate a web page (a page selected from your search results), and how to print articles you wish to keep.
For starters, visit WhyQuit.com. To do so, simply move the mouse pointer to the address window at the top of the web browser page and delete the current address being displayed. Now, simply type "whyquit.com" in the address window and then press "enter" or "return."
Presto! Welcome to WhyQuit! The site is totally free, declines donations, and is staffed entirely by volunteers.
WhyQuit's homepage is broken down into three categories. The left column contains links to motivational articles, the center shares educational materials, and the right column is a gateway to our free online support sites.
WhyQuit's "Motivation" column includes heart wrenching stories about young tobacco victims. For example, lung cancer was diagnosed when Noni was 32 years-old and had just given birth to her first child, when Bryan was 33 and his son Bryan, Jr. was just 2, Carrie, comedian Carol Burnett's daughter was 33, Deborah was 38 and her youngest daughter 11, and our support group Freedom's much loved Kim was 44.
Clearly, WhyQuit intentionally shares horrific stories about the youngest of the young. We openly admit that we do so in an attempt to get visiting smokers to appreciate that predicting whom tobacco toxins will kill, and at what age, is no different from playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun.
But, with roughly one-quarter of adult lifetime smokers being claimed by their addiction during middle-age, young victim stories are more common than we'd think.
The center "Education" column is home to Joel's Library, the 40+ years of cessation insights of my fifteen year mentor Joel Spitzer. Inside Joel's Library you'll find links to more than 100 insightful stop smoking articles, Joel's free ebook "Never Take Another Puff," his daily recommended lesson guide, and links to Joel's more than 200 YouTube video counseling lessons.
Under the "Education" column you'll also find articles I've written, including this book, FFN-TJH, in multiple formats. While full revisions to this book will hopefully occur every couple of years, the most current and up to date version will be the webpage (html) version. As new studies are released or insights change, this is where I'll come to document it.
The right column provides "Support" links. There, visitors are transported to "Freedom," the Internet's most serious and focused peer support group. There, new members begin posting in their own permanent journal, with Joel and other members reading their journal and sharing links to specific recovery lessons raised by their words or concerns.Under "Support" you'll also find links to Turkeyville, a 6,000 member fast moving Facebook group. Both groups are exclusively for cold turkey quitters.
And at both, you'll see that education always comes first. It must. Why? Because we discovered very early (1999-2000) that a forum's ability to support and sustain recovery in a purely pep-rally type environment ("You can do it!") is dismal at best.
While the initial excitement of interacting with other ex-users is often tremendous, it eventually begins to wane. As it does, the forum's value and effectiveness in supporting success diminishes. Group relapse rates become horribly unacceptable (less than 10-15% at 6 months) when members have little or no education or recovery skills to fall back upon.
Visitors to WhyQuit's support groups need not join in order to read each forum's messages. In fact, most don't. Still, we treat emails and Facebook messaging from non-posting visitors as part of the family.
Thus, Freedom and Turkeyville function as virtual classrooms with enormous windows. Maintaining positive control over admissions ensures a classroom type learning experience. It also prevents chaos and makes sure that each forum's seasoned volunteer educators are not overwhelmed when a major newspaper, magazine or other media source features our work and we're flooded with new member applications.
Every message posted at Freedom and Turkeyville must relate to recovery. General socialization is not permitted, including celebration of birthdays, anniversaries or your nation's or religion's holidays.
Clearly, neither forum is for those seeking to socialize or make new friends. Nearly six million tobacco related deaths expected during 2015, the groups take their missions seriously. Our goal is simple: to aid all who visit in remaining nicotine-free today.
As for Freedom being 100 percent nicotine-free, we figure there must be at least one place on planet earth where nicotine has no voice. Those applying for membership must certify that they stopped cold turkey without use of any product or procedure and that they've remained 100% nicotine-free for 72 hours.
Although it may sound harsh, applicants must also agree to abide by Freedom's relapse policy. That policy states that should any member relapse that they will permanently lose message board posting privileges. Obviously, the aim is to encourage members to take recovery seriously.
One final point. The rules for both groups prohibit mention of any commercially sold book, product, diet or procedure. The forum was built around the concept that every recovery lesson is made freely available to all without cost or obligation.
As such, the forum will not permit any suggestion that any reader need spend any money or make any purchase in order to succeed, including purchasing the paperback or Kindle version of this book. If sharing links to FFN-TJH at any online site please only share the link to WhyQuit's free versions.
Unlike Freedom, there is no 72-hour nicotine-free waiting period at Turkeyville before you can join, and no relapse policy. Still, you may not post to the group unless and until you have started your recovery, and you may not post if you've relapsed and again using.
Again, nicotine is deprived of a voice. To our thinking, to do otherwise would be no different than allowing alcoholics to come to AA meetings drunk, with their bottle in hand. As at Freedom, the primary focus of Turkeyville is in aiding those just starting out in navigating early recovery.
Under "Support," WhyQuit offer visitors links to free stop smoking meters. These are small computer programs or applications (apps) that can either be downloaded to and installed on your computer, laptop or mobile device, or used while online without any need for download.
Once you type in your tobacco use history (how often you used, the purchase price and the day you stopped), most will calculate the number of days, months and years we've remained free, the amount of money you've saved, and if a smoker, the total number of cigarettes not smoked and the amount of life expectancy reclaimed to date.
Most meters also allow you to copy their calculations to your computer's clipboard for transporting and pasting into e-mails, documents created with your word processing program, or for sharing on Internet message boards. And this is how nearly all online recovery calculators are used. You enter your use history, and then simply copy the calculated stats and paste them where you wish them to appear.
Here, I'm copying and pasting my stats as of July 2015, while using Harry's Quit Counter:
John - free and healing for sixteen years, one month, twenty-two days, 13 hours and 38 minutes, while extending my life expectancy 1,228 days and 10 hours, by avoiding the use of 353,794 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $102,427.25.
Like a car's odometer, they're a fun way of tracking, marking and measuring your journey home. Links to free meters can also be found at both Freedom and Turkeyville.
It's my hope that the above online recovery support suggestions will stir your thinking. You are not confined to just WhyQuit. The only limit to identifying additional means of keeping our recovery dreams fueled and vibrant is the limits of your imagination.
And our objective here is simple. It's finding creative ways to stay sufficiently motivated long enough to allow the time needed to successfully navigate recovery's remaining challenges, if any, and get comfortable.
Whether today is good or bad, whether feeling motivated or not, your freedom and healing are guaranteed to continue so long as you stick to one guiding principle ... no nicotine, none!