Do relapsed members really have something important to teach?

I originally produced this video back in 2014 specifically for using at the Freedom from Nicotine board. While going through comment sections of people’s YouTube videos I now occasionally see people who have relapsed, now wanting to quit again, and are actively seeking out other relapsed smokers to buddy up with to aid in their quitting efforts. This video and the comments that I originally had attached address why this is not a strategy that is likely going to lead to a new successful quit.

Below are a series of comments from the Freedom from Nicotine board that address this issue:

Comments from the string Good news, our members don’t relapse anymore… that address why we don’t feel that our members are in some way hampered because they can’t read about members who relapsed:

Comment written in December of 2006:

“Sadly, I am bringing this one up today because a member did smoke. The person made a post basically saying that even though the member knew it was against the rules and would be pulled, the post could help others. After all, a person who smokes can pass along the “valuable” insight of how bad he or she feels for having taken a cigarette.

I am going to lift a couple of comments made in this string in the past. They address this issue:

Does the relapsed person have a valuable message to pass along? Not really. All of our members already know or strongly suspect how they would feel if they were to relapse. Many of our members know from their own past experiences. They can tell you all about it and how from the past experience that they know that they want to keep their quits and are now living proof that up to this point in time they have been able to keep this quit going by simply sticking to their new commitment to never take another puff!

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We have no problem with our members learning from each other’s past relapses. We are just making it impossible for them to learn from the future relapse of any member. You are right that other programs recognize that relapses happen to people with drug addictions. We know people relapse too. We just don’t see it as a natural or more importantly, an inevitable event. Our post Is relapse a natural part of the quitting process? addresses this concept. Here is our comment from that string that points out that we are coming from a different slant on this issue.

Most other boards, and in fact most professional programs and nicotine addiction experts see relapsing as a normal part of the addiction process. In a way we are out on a limb here at Freedom. We don’t accept relapse as a normal process of addiction. We see a relapse as a natural process of not understanding and/or accepting ones own addiction. For if the true implication of a relapse is understood, any sane and recovering addict would choose not to relapse.

Every recovering nicotine addict here has the tools in place not to relapse, which is why he or she is a recovering addict now and not an active user. He or she understands full well, up to this point in time that he or she could not control quantity of cigarettes or duration of the relapse. If nicotine is readministered, the relapse will take on a life of its own, and has the full potential of taking your life in the process.

If you keep that understanding and keep in practice our one simple principle, a relapse is not going to be a natural occurrence and in fact, a relapse is going to be an impossibility. For as long as you follow one simple principal, you will never be able to go back to smoking. The principle, is just remembering if you want to keep control of your addiction never take another puff! ”

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Wow you mean a smoker might lie when they relapse. Never thought of that one. Now that you mention it, I should have realized this. You see, sometimes when I do corporate clinics one person will have really blown a quit big time, but tell others from the group that they just smoke occasionally and seem to have it under control.

In fact sometimes the successful ex-smokers around the person figures that if the person smoking is saying that he or she can control his or her cigarettes, maybe the successful ex-smoker can do it too. So the successful ex-smoker takes a drag. He or she basically has blown his or her quit now.

But sometimes that person when caught smoking will lie about it to another from the group, saying something like, “Sure I smoke every now an then now, but I have it under control.” Then the person they are telling their lie to blows his or her quit. Pretty soon they are all outside freezing together in the smoking section by the loading dock lying to each other how they will be quitting smoking one day.

I guess that is a little harder to do at Freedom, to relapse, say that you just had a slip and are now fine. Because we seem to have this insane rule that says if you say you slipped you are out for good and can never post about it. How in the world can you influence others to blow their quits with that kind of lie? Guess you will just have to find another site that takes relapsing as a matter of fact and no big deal. Luckily you will still be able to read information here and Freedom and WhyQuit if you are ever able to muster the strength to attempt a quit again. You just won’t be able to influence anyone else.

There is no lying to your body though. The only way to stay smoke free is to honestly believe in your commitment and keep in force your promise to never take another puff!

Joel

Related resources:

I’ve got my smoking under control
I’m a serial quitter and I want to help people quit smoking
The pitfalls of forming a buddy system to quit smoking
Is relapsing on nicotine a good learning experience?
Lost long term quits
I’ve relapsed and I hate it 
Past successful quits