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The Freedom from Nicotine support board’s zero tolerance relapse policy

Video discusses the reasons for the Freedom from Nicotine support site’s zero tolerance relapse policy.

We understand why you relapsed

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!

From the Freedom from Nicotine string:

Good news, our members don’t relapse anymore…
Only our ex-members do!

We had a previous string that discussed this issue, but it was written at an earlier time when our policies were a lot more lenient. We felt it best that to avoid confusion we update that string. We don’t have to use it often, but there are times when people apparently have not read Freedom’s Relapse Policy and probably not much of Freedom’s other materials and it ends up costing them their membership, as well as their quit.

To put in clearly and simply, post a relapse and we will pull the post and permanently pull your membership. There are no second chances at Freedom. Everyone made an agreement when applying to Freedom, that they were going to quit cold turkey and were dedicated to never take another puff! Well that is the price of staying a member now. Again, post a relapse and your membership is permanently pulled.

We bill ourselves as a no-nonsense board. We mean it. We are not right for everyone and we don’t want to hold anyone here who thinks we are too serious. There are plenty of Internet sites that will support your quits. People who think relapses are understandable under the right situations are not going to be happy here.

If you think our policies are too stringent go to There you will find links to other online support groups that will not enforce such stringent policies. We completely understand and we will harbor no ill feelings if you feel the need to leave us. But posting a relapse is trivializing the importance of quitting for anyone else here and that bothers us, for you are trivializing people’s efforts who are fighting for their life. This we do take seriously and will rectify it quickly.

We are not here to coddle people who relapse. We are here to help people stay quit. Again the price of membership is total commitment. Considering this is a fight for your life, it is not too high of a price for anyone to pay. Failure at quitting is a relapse to a drug that has every potential to kill you. This is too high of a price to pay for a drag on a cigarette.

So if you want to feel better about a relapse, or help others feel better about their relapse, move on to another site. If you want to secure your quit and help all who are members here, you must never take another puff!


The following text lifted from the old thread discusses the advantages of our no relapse policy, both for a group as a whole as well as each individual member. Saying that if you relapse that we want you to come back again is taking away a major incentive not to relapse. Everyone reading such a message will think that we don’t take relapsing too seriously so why should they? Read the text below, I think you will get the idea of how the relapse policy protects everybody.


I saw where a member wrote tonight that because of a tragic situation she was thinking she should just smoke and quit again once she got through the bad time period. We have designed Freedom to take care of such logic. You cannot relapse with the intention that you will just come back and quit again. Relapsing is a commitment to smoke and forever forgo participating at Freedom again. Harsh you may say. Well yes it is, but it is because you have to be harsh with yourself if you are going to keep on top of this addiction. Give cigarettes and inch and they will take your life. If you want to stay smoke free always remember why you first committed and are still committed to never take another puff!


Freedom’s New

No Relapse Policy

(Implemented November 2002)

Freedom’s relapse policy is about to undergo additional evolution. Athough every visitor to the site will have 100% access to Freedom’s over 130,000 archived posts, to Joel’s entire library and to all of our resources at WhyQuit, any future relapse will disqualify that member from again participating in the group. The rule applies across the board, to me as well as you. Not only will this destroy any junkie thinking that my mind might have been able to muster in time of crisis about being able to return, the new policy will not permit me to return if I should relapse.

Not only is there no legitimate excuse for relapse at Freedom, there is no relapse at Freedom. This isn’t a matter of asking members to value their group participation and use that as justification for not relapsing. That’s akin to a quit crutch. It’s a matter of asking each of us to value this forum as a serious site, to honor the principles upon which its built, and to respect the right of others to find sanctuary in one little corner of the earth where nicotine has no voice.

If any of you have questions about our new policy please send us an email. Thanks!

Freedom’s Managers

All of Freedom’s management team thought this one out long and hard. This policy may seem intimidating to someone just thinking about applying. But for our existing members this policy should pose no threat or inconvenience. After all, the primary vow that people have when joining up at Freedom, and the primary principle that keeps our members nicotine free is the promise that each and every makes to himself or herself each and every day not to take a puff. As long as this promise was made in good faith, if each and every member keeps the promise he or she has nothing to be afraid of.

We want people first thinking of applying though to think long and hard of whether we are in fact the best support group to sign up for. If a person does not feel totally one hundred percent committed to make this quit be the last quit he or she is ever planning on having to make, he or she might be better off exploring other support groups before joining in. As John has stated, a person lurking has access to all of the materials at, my library and even the Freedom message board itself. The only difference is that members can post and non-members cannot.

This policy offers up two big advantages. The first is to the group as a whole. Every person coming here is now guaranteed that the board is always going to be focused on people who are successfully off smoking. There will be no need to spend time consoling relapses or trying to help a person rationalize a relapse. Again we had the advantages of that principle already covered in our There is no legitimate reason to relapse

But the primary benefactor of this policy is each and every member himself or herself. We have made it very easy for each and every member to have a clearly defined spelled out battle line. No longer does a person have the luxury of thinking, “Well if I relapse, I’ll go to Freedom and quit again.” We have in effect destroyed what to some people can be a very persuasive argument supporting a kind of junkie thinking.

Again, for the majority of people here this policy poses no threat and makes the each and every members mission here that much more clearly defined. It was what their intent was the day they first signed up to Freedom. To stay a member of Freedom, and more important, to keep the health and life saving benefits of staying a successful ex-smoker is as simple now as just remembering to stay totally committed to never take another puff!


Just for the record, if a member loses his or her posting privileges, he or she still has the ability to read ALL of our message boards and ALL of the materials at He or she can still put through the effort to quit and get ALL the information he or she needs from these sites, he or she just cannot actively participate at Freedom again. The way for a relapsed smoker to once again gain Freedom and to keep it is to never take another puff!

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© Joel Spitzer 2018
Reformatted 06/30/18 by John R. Polito