I’ve never been a smoker but I was addicted to nicotine in the form of chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco and “snuff”. Products like Skoal, Copenhagen, Kodiak, etc. These products felt like my best friends for over 15 years. I remember some of the things I did while chewing or dipping: I ran 5k’s, I fell asleep with a chew in, I felt a powerful need to have a dip in almost every waking moment. The only time I did not have the urge was immediately after getting rid of a dip and rinsing my mouth. Later on when I started realizing that I needed to stop this unhealthy habit I would vow to stop after this “last” can. The vow would last for about 30 minutes then I could easily rationalize one more dip.
At the time I had no idea of the powerful addiction I was dealing with. I was too busy with my career and doing what I do. In the back of my mind I always had a nagging feeling that I was doing something wrongl to my body. I felt healthy in every way except for the fact that I always had to have a brown pinch of tobacco in my lip or cheek. After a couple of days of constant use, I would get a raw or rough spot where the dip was. No problem, I would simply switch cheeks and get the other side sore. I knew guys in the Army that would put the dip in their top lip over their front teeth. It sure made them talk funny.
Other than tobacco use, I have always been into mostly healthy practices. I have always exercised and eaten decently healthy.
In 1996 I was finally able to end my long term addiction by using mostly willpower and chewing a common herb.
It all started in my high school freshman year when I was going to a rural high school. It seemed most of the “cool” boys were dipping snuff and had the popular imprint of the can worn into the back of their jeans. I of course got dizzy and nauseous after trying something called “Happy Days Raspberry Flavored Smokeless Tobacco”. It even makes me nauseous just thinking about it. Just by Googling it you can find it on Ebay still in sealed cans(circa 1976)! I wonder how that tastes?
This type of tobacco provides a rapid absorption of nicotine without the dangers from actually burning the tobacco and creating the gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides that ruin the lungs.
I was lucky in that I quit before I did too much damage to my body. Mostly cosmetic damage in the form of gum erosion and stains. Having a good dentist repair these was a big wake up call for me.
I tried to rationalize and promote the benefits to myself. snuff is free of tar and harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. Since it cannot be inhaled into the lungs, there is no risk of lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. I could still perform in extremely physical tasks and athletics without a reduction in cardiovascular health.
My decision to quit was tough but necessary. I was freshly out of the Army and working in the corporate world in an office environment. It’s not socially acceptable to be walking around with a big dip or chew in, not to mention the aesthetics and dental hygiene. I didn’t really have a plan and thought I would quit cold turkey. I started searching on the internet for ways to quit and stumbled on a mint product. I ordered a roll of it and I actually cut way back on the tobacco while eagerly awaiting the mint dip to arrive. Once I opened and tried that first can of mint snuff I felt committed to the task of getting away from tobacco for good. Although it actually tasted better than tobacco, it of course did not provide that satisfying buzz that I was so familiar with. I knew that if I could make it at least 30 days I would have it beat. I got through the 30 days but not without plenty of withdrawal symptoms. I think that the combination of adjusting to civilian life and quitting tobacco caused a great deal of emotional turmoil. Yes, the first 30 days were the toughest but also the next several months. Tobacco cravings would happen at many times and I always had the mint available as a pacifier. It took about a year before I all but completely forgot about taking a dip of tobacco. At the time I had no idea of the herbs and nutritional supplements I could have used to make the ride a little less traumatic.
My point in writing this article is to show that nicotine addiction can be overcome through natural methods. My own personal experience with kicking the habit has motivated me to explore the nutritional side of nicotine addiction and research the many herbs that are locally available. In my case, had I the knowledge and resources to implement a plan to quit tobacco, I would have done it sooner. My experience can now be used to assist others in this journey. Through herbal and nutritional therapy one can still get some of the effects of nicotine without the addictive qualities.
Previous post on this site: “Nutritional Approaches to Nicotine Detoxification”
http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/Topics/SmokelessTobacco/SmokelessTobaccoAGuideforQuitting.htm#thedangersofdipandchew (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR))