This is another letter written specifically for my clinic graduates, but the core of the message applies here at Freedom too. While my clinic was a two week group program, with sporadic support between the individuals in the group and me, Freedom has a longer-term intensive support network developed in its framework. We too are trying to help you get to the point where you have a choice but we are then there daily to help you remember the ongoing benefits of the choice of freedom.
"How in the world did I do it?"
So many successful graduates of our program express shock and disbelief that they actually quit smoking. They often ask what magic we practiced on them to make them give up cigarettes. The fact is we use no magic. We simply, through information, group support and general caring, help people stay off smoking for two weeks. At the end of that time, all ex-smokers have a choice. They can return to their old level of consumption or they can remain ex-smokers.
The true goal of our program is not to make smokers quit forever--just to help them quit for two weeks. Most smokers who enroll in our clinics have lost control over cigarettes. They are true drug addicts, hooked on nicotine. While they claim to smoke because they want to, the real reason is they smoke because they have to. But once off for two weeks, the physical addiction is broken. While they may still have passing thoughts of how nice it would be to have a cigarette, they no longer experience the overwhelming cravings initially experienced during the peak drug withdrawal. The vast majority reaching this drug free state realize they feel healthier, happier and calmer than when they were smoking.
But not all ex-smokers stay off cigarettes. Many actually return to smoking. Is it that they decide that they like being smokers more than non-smokers? In the vast majority of failures, this is not the reason. People who relapse think they have a third choice--becoming social smokers. One cigarette here and there, not too often. They shortly realize, however, that being an occasional smoker is not possible. Once an ex-smoker takes one cigarette, the addiction process is set into motion. It is only a matter of time, in many cases only 24 hours, until they will return to smoking at their old level.
The first questions I ask those who relapse is how much do they enjoy their new addiction? Do they really like smoking 20, 40, 60 or even more cigarettes per day? Which way of life did they like more, being successful non-smokers or the way it currently is? It is amazing, but I almost always get the same answers. They hate smoking. They can't control the amount they smoke. They preferred not smoking anything to smoking the way they smoke now. While these feelings are almost universally expressed in their words, their actions do not coincide with their desires. They don't quit. In many cases they don't even attempt to quit. They hate what they are doing to themselves, they think fondly of not smoking, but they don't try to achieve it.
The reason is they have lost control over the matter. They are once again addicted to nicotine. They are in the exact same condition as when we first encountered them in the clinic. The solution is quite simple. They can quit smoking, again. If they can just get off for two weeks, they will once again break the addiction and gain freedom of choice over cigarettes again. But this time they have one advantage. They now know only two options exist for them. First, they can smoke nothing. Second, they can smoke everything. But there is no inbetween. If they ever desire an occasional cigarette, all they must do is think about what it was like the last time, when they returned to smoking, hating every day of it. Then they can make a choice, return to smoking or to Never Take Another Puff!