You often hear about buddy systems in substance abuse programs. AA and NA and CA heavily utilize this highly effective and supportive technique. But it is important to understand something about the term "buddy system" These programs are generally "buddying" the newbie with a sponsor more than a buddy.
The sponsor is not a person quitting the same day; it is a person who has likely been quit for a significant time period. Someone who is more stable in their own quit because they have a myriad of time and experiences already under their belt. They are not cured but they are more secure and probably have a deeper understanding of not only what quitting is like, but more important what it is like not to be using after an extended time period. This is the message that the person in the middle of a quit needs to hear. Not just what today is like, they know that already. Talking with people only in this stage of the game is just sharing misery. What is more important for the person in withdrawal is to understand the importance of overcoming this time period. To hang in to see what next week, next month or even next year will be like, if they just don't smoke for these time periods. Who better to deliver this message than people off these amounts of time?
Smokers who never quit smoking know what it is like to smoke. Smokers who are in the middle of their first week of quitting know what it is like to smoke and what it is like to be in withdrawal. But smokers who are off for longer time periods know what it is like to smoke, quit, and stay off. They know there is life after smoking, life after withdrawal. The people who even know more are those who have smoked, quit, went through withdrawal, stayed off months or maybe years, relapsed, quit again, and are now off a long time. They have more experience than anyone does and likely a deeper appreciation of the addiction and recognition of how precious and fragile their quit actually is. They still have to work at it, but it is among the most worthwhile work that they do any given day.
These people are here, and for you newbies. I am using "newbie" here as people in the first few days of their quit, even if they have been here in the past, this is a new quit for them. If you want real support, turn to the longer-term ex-smokers. They will help you in ways that you may not yet be able to help each other. But take heart here, this is not saying that you won't be able to help others too. But your primary focus needs to be on your own quit now.
Keep in mind, you will only be a smoker in the middle of a quit for a short time period. Pretty soon you will be the seasoned veteran. When this happens, remember how past seasoned veterans helped you and pass along the support. This community should only grow larger over time. Staying to help others will help secure your own quit too. Many programs use the phrase, "To keep it, you have to give it away." No where is this more true than dealing with addictions. And never lose sight that smoking is an addiction. Whether today is your first day, your hundredth day or your thousandth day, the trick to beating your addiction for today is the same, never take another puff!
Hope everyone is having a good weekend.
Video links added February 2011: