Yesterday when I was online feverishly trying to process applications and answer emails, I saw a past clinic graduate show up in my buddy list. I flashed off a quick email to him telling him to drop by Freedom and make a post. My reasons was he was a long-term ex-smoker, 12 years now. Most of the responses you see here at Freedom are from people off two years or most actually much less. Then is not surprising since most people here quit in online experiences and we have only been around about a year and a half.
So I figured hearing from people off longer time periods will help to make people realize that longer term quitting is a real possibility and that even after more than a decade, the importance and gratitude felt by people for quitting smoking is deep and heartfelt. I am a little embarrased posting this letter for John laid more praise and credit on me than on his own resolve. This was truly his effort and his victory. Just as it is for each of you, off for a day or off for a year, you each are responsible for your quits. Again, we try to supply education and understanding here, but you are all supplying the motivation and the effort. Take a bow everyone, you are all smoke free and healthier fot it.
Just call me a "quitter!"
I began smoking when I was 15 years old and smoked through age 50. Over those 35 years, my smoking habit grew from two cigarettes a day as a youth to something over 3 and a half to 4 packs a day as an adult. As a teenager and young adult not much was known about the effects of smoking. In fact, the only thing my mother could say is that "smoking will stunt your growth."
To me, smoking became a chemical addiction and an emotional habit. Inside my deepest thoughts, I knew smoking was absolutely going to "kill" me. In fact, I had this dreaded picture in my head: I saw myself craving a cigarette and taking another puff through a tube in my throat as I lay in a hospital bed dying of cancer. I decided many times to stop and in some cases was able to stop for a day or two. It seemed the more I tried to stop, the more I seemed to smoke. I tried every type of stop smoking program known to man. I tried nicotine patches and nicotine gum, hypnotism, biofeedback and a wide variety of Smoke Enders programs. Hypnotism worked briefly once lasting a few days. But, once I returned to smoking and tried hypnotism a second and third time, it had no affect on my worsening habit.
It is still difficult for me to intelligently discuss or try to describe the utter stupidity and despair one feels when hooked on cigarettes. As a well educated, senior executive of a fortune 500 corporation, I could never rationalize this dark side of my life. In the business world, I truly felt brilliant, vibrant, highly motivated and deployed my gifts with a keen sense of self-discipline. Yet, with all my mental prowess's and business acumen, I could not break this deadly habit. I was hopelessly adrift in a sea of private despair with no way out. Thank goodness I never got into any kind of drugs or things would have been much worse. In Joel's program, I sat next to someone who told me he had beaten a cocaine habit but still was having trouble trying to stop smoking. Another person, a heart surgeon, confided in me how he would sneak into a closet next to the operating room just to get a few puffs.
For me, Joel presented a, comprehensive smoking cessation platform that addressed smoking habits from a chemical, mental, emotional and psychological point of view. He was able to help us break down and compartmentalize our habits into definable and treatable functions. Joel's smoking cessation program was the one and only program that totally cured me of my smoking habit. After many untold years of trying, I was able to not only stop smoking but importantly, permanently quit and "never took another puff."
After smoking for 35 plus years, I remain totally smoke free for some 12 years now. In my heart, I know I do not deserve to be alive for all the systemic damage I did to my mind and body. The fact that I am alive today is nothing short of a miracle as far as I'm concerned. And, Joel Spitzer is a saint who quietly walks this earth helping people such as myself come through the torrid experience of trying to stop smoking.
So, just call me a "quitter" who is grateful to be alive and talk about it!