Ex-users can be an excellent source of dependency recovery support. Most are long-term residents here on Easy Street. But a word of caution about ex-users. As just discussed, their memories of the challenges of early recovery have likely been suppressed.
While most will have forgotten the bad, some have continued to cling tight to a few old nicotine use rationalizations. Doing so has likely kept tantalizing "aaah" wanting relief memories associated with those remaining rationalizations teasingly alive.
Others will look back upon their years of use as having been "vile, disgusting, expensive, stupid, crazy" or insane. For them, breaking free is now seen as having been common sense, no big deal, a non-event or easy.
Ask the next ex-user you meet how long it has been since their last significant challenge. Try to get them to put a date on it. Ask how long the challenge lasted and what it felt like. How intense was it?
Then ask about the challenge prior to that. Again, try to get them to be accurate in dating and describing it. A few follow-up questions and I think you'll discover that the event was really a non-event, that it left very little impression.
Ask what they like most about being free. How has it changed their life? Did their success influence others still using? What do they think about while watching others use?
What do they most miss? Try to identify any lingering romantic fixations. Reflect upon the honesty of each. Reflect on how this ex-user succeeded, even though they refused to let go of this rationalization. Imagine if they had. Think about how it places them at greater risk for relapse.