If it seems like trouble comes in bunches, it's because sometimes it does, and with good reason. Over the years I have done two types of Stop Smoking Clinics. The first is community-based, with anywhere from 10 to 60 participants, few of whom know each other beforehand. The other is corporate-based, where many, if not all of the participants work together on a daily basis and are at least acquainted with each other.
In the corporate setting there is a real danger of two phenomena occurring. The first danger is the Buddy System, well documented and often talked about and cautioned against here at Freedom. That's where two people get together and quit at the same time and theoretically provide moral support to each other. The problem is that each buddy may start to feel that his or her quit is contingent on the success of the other buddy. If one buddy relapses the other one is likely to throw in the towel too. Or, even worse, the entire group becomes one big buddy system, with the danger of losing more than two people from the group in one fell swoop.
An example of how this can occur is seen when one of the clinic participants relapses. Typically he/she is embarrassed by the failure and will often try to hide the relapse from the other participants. Eventually, though, the relapse will be discovered and another class member will see the person smoking, maybe in the parking lot or another public area at work. The embarrassed smoker, instead of admitting the relapse and the failure, will say that he is only smoking occasionally and has everything under control.
The co-worker may spill the beans to the rest of the group or may keep it to himself and quietly ponder the situation. The idea of casual "social" smoking may begin to look attractive to him and the more he thinks about it, the more practical the idea begins to look. One day he tries it for himself. Then, in total shock and dismay, he finds himself hooked again and smoking regularly. While he may now be a daily smoker, he may try to hide from the others in the group and may even keep it from the person who originally relapsed for fear of looking weak in comparison. After all, that person is controlling his smoking just fine as far as the second relapsed smoker can tell. Before long, though, yet another member of the class catches Relapse Number Two. He may also profess to have the situation under control, instead of just owning up to the relapse. And so the cycle continues until a mass relapse is a distinct possibility, with all class members lying to each other on a daily basis.
We have controls in place to prevent this scenario from happening at Freedom. If a member of this group takes a puff, he doesn't get to tell the others that he "has things under control", because at the first mention of a puff that member is out for life. Whether or not that member convinces himself that he has everything under control there is no way his rationalizations can influence any other member. As soon as he/she writes about a puff, posting privileges are over.
The second phenomenon that can happen in a corporate setting is sometimes repeated here at Freedom. It can happen when all participants are still successfully not smoking. It can begin innocently enough when one member is having a bad day, possibly because of nothing related to smoking, and tries to share the problem with the entire group through a post. Those negative feelings are quickly picked up by someone else, who posts about more problems unrelated to smoking and then another and another and pretty soon the entire group is involved. They begin to fear that their quits are now in jeopardy, just because they are newly quit also.
It is crucial that all persons reading here understand that throughout their lives they are going to have bad days. This is not because they are ex-smokers; it is because they are human beings. Our moods will be affected by our environments, whether is be weather problems, family stressors, problems at work, shifts in the economy, world issues that affect the peace and stability of nations, or a host of other problems that plague mankind. Life continues to happen after people quit smoking and it is imperative to recognize that most of the same problems would have occurred even if they hadn't quit smoking and would also have occurred if they had never started smoking.
You should also realize that while many of these bad days would have happened regardless of your smoking status, by having quit you are avoiding many bad days that continuing to smoke would have caused. Days like the one where you have a smoking-induced stroke or the day you have a heart attack, or the day that a routine chest x-ray shows a spot that is more than a technological glitch. These days, while bad in themselves, will lead to a lot more bad days that may make your current problems seem totally insignificant in comparison.
Then there are the bad days where withdrawal is worse while still smoking, because the environment you are in is not allowing you to feed your addiction on a regular basis. This is becoming more and more commonplace as more cities, states and countries are implementing smoking restrictions in public places.
There are also bad days when smoking becomes a greater economic hardship because the price has jumped significantly. Or maybe burning some piece of clothing, furniture or your entire house will cause a bad day, especially if a pet or even a loved one was in the house and didn't get out in time.
Smoking does have one advantage, though. It pretty much insures that you will have fewer bad days as a whole. It does this by causing your death a lot sooner than you intended. Unfortunately, smoking also limits your number of good days too and it will normally leave your loved ones with a lot more bad days than they would have had if you did not smoke.
Freedom is a lot more like the corporate based clinics because we have the opportunity to stay in touch and share experiences over the long term. While this allows our members the ability to share experiences and help to reinforce each other's resolve, it also carries the additional risk of the spreading of negative experiences and having it appear to be effects of having quit smoking. It is crucial for our members to be more discriminating than this. When you are having bad moments, try to look around your surrounding circumstances and determine if other areas of your life may be responsible for certain physical or emotional reactions. If you come to the conclusion that absolutely nothing is wrong in your life or in the lives of others around you that can account for some bad feeling--congratulations are in order for you have reached a state of paradise and bliss that most of mankind has been seeking since its inception and has never been able to attain. Although, if this is the case, there is a chance that you may have lost touch with reality just a little.Life goes on after you quit smoking--accept that fact. It is indeed what you were hoping for when first quitting--that your life would go on as it did before, maybe even better. While you may not be happy with the way everything is going in your life at any given moment, if you really examine the benefits to your health and to your life of no longer having to maintain an expensive, dirty, dangerous and deadly addiction, you will at least always be a little happier by the fact that you made and stuck to a commitment to never take another puff!