2019 HOF Speeches

Addiction Specialist

KillTheCan LogoWell boys… All the knowledge, history, and witnessing others struggle with addiction over 30 years did not help me in my addiction to nicotine, and the routine known as dipping. Does this make me an idiot… or is this a sad case illustrating the power of addiction?  I would say equal shares of both.

There’s an expression around 12 step meetings which goes “you can’t think your way into right actions… but you can act your way into right thinking”. Which fits with another saying “our best thinking got us here…”.  This sums up pretty well where I have been. It wasn’t until I took the action, made the decision, and crawled back up looking for help that I made real progress.

Circa 1995, California…I’m 7 years sober and clean from drugs….I THOUGHT I could just use nic after hockey when the boys had their beers…then I THOUGHT I could just use a little when golfing.  Either way…I don’t do it all the time…no big deal.  (WTF??? I know this language from my drug addiction!)

Around that time I’m working professionally as a musician and geez, it seems like this dip helps me get through these longer gigs or recording sessions, my spitter fits perfectly hidden in front of my snare drum and drum stool.  I THINK this is fine as long as I limit this to puck, golf, and music.  Surely I don’t want to become an addict.

Ok, Poker is better when dipping….oh, and video games. And THAT’s all….Puck, golf, music,  poker, and video games.  So that’s 2-3 times per week with puck, once per week for golf (but 2 dips per 18 holes), 2-3 dips per gig, and now about once per day during a short nightly video game.  But it’s not like I really dip, I just do it during these times.  So I THOUGHT.

My move from Southern California to Raleigh in 2001 knocked down 1 more barrier….not a lot of people in Santa Barbara dip, or dip openly.  Now on my first job many of my customers have open spitters ON THEIR desks. Is this for real?  They are wearing khakis and a dress shirt while neatly packing a plug.  In fact, one particular customer swears by Kodiak so I switch from the harsh of Cope to the smooth Kodiak.  I THINK this makes sense now…yea, it’s an addictive substance but all these business peers do it…so I THINK I’m fine.

As years roll on, it seems like after meals it makes sense and feels good….and ON and ON.  Good thinking right?

Once my wife discovered this…(we dated in ’93, married in ’98), she was pissed, and didn’t hide it one bit…”I didn’t marry a nicotine addict!!!” She would yell.  She’s sober too, that’s how we met.  That and a musician friend we had in common.

So the marital tension that was building anyway took on a new shape….”oh yea, when I’m completely pissed at her, it really helps to ease the pain with that cool buzz of nicotine to the back of my skull”.  And I can block all that out if I dip and play a video game, or dip and read, or dip and watch TV….good THINKING!

So while all this progressed, the RECOVERING addict in me KNEW this all was ridiculous, and my remorse built and built over time.  It sucks dipping when you KNOW you’re an addict and you’re trying to escape life’s terms…it’s even worse when that’s all you seem to be doing.

Not because you like it, not because it’s better when golfing…because now I have to.  Must in the car after leaving in the AM, must after lunch, and must when works done.  And then the only “enjoyable” dip of the day…the ninja night dip with no one to bug me, no responsibilities.

So I knew all this in early 2012, when a goalie buddy who previously seemed to have a yapper in 24/7, told me about this site and he’d gone a number of days quit…called KTC.  I “visited”, and a seed was planted.  I found my July ’12 group and started posting.  I made a few calls, was grateful to have found some connections, but made the mistake of thinking I was all good after a year or so.  I faded from posting, faded from text lists, didn’t get tons of shit cause I hadn’t really made strong relationships, and eventually 3 years into being quit I rationalized that a huge fight with my wife was only remedied by getting a tin.

It wasn’t knee jerk…months before I used nic I discovered that threatening my wife that I’d buy a tin if she didn’t get off my back, got her to quit yelling and throwing a fit, but eventually she just called my bluff and got tired of me manipulating.  So I did it…I even called the only guy I had kept up with and told him I was done…I had to dip or I’d go insane.  What an idiot..what good thinking!!

3 years later in late 2018 I had had enough.  There was nothing keeping me from dipping as much as I wanted…I was on the road all day for work seeing customers, living in our guest room as the marriage is now reduced to living together separately thing…and I just couldn’t escape enough from the gnawing feeling that I’m failing every day, choosing this over times with my son….hiding it from him.  And just checking out on life while I retreat with a nicotine “buzz”.

As I’ve illustrated above, my best thinking got me here…and by here, I mean at the bottom…surrendering that I’m an addict with no chance of recovery without support (accountability).

This time, back at KTC, I get it now…and I’m grateful.  I’m grateful for the guys who reached out right away, NickT, OBB, NoMark, Wepdoc, Cambellmi…  I’m grateful for all the others who were so welcoming in texts and calls.  I’m grateful to supporters who pushed us to get it together (still a lot of work there boys!).  I’m grateful that the light went on and I understand accountability now.  I’m grateful to have had phone conversations with 19 bad-ass quitters from all over, texting with twice that.  Grateful for 3 meals with local quitters NoMark and BlueWolf.

As my local friend NoMark put so perfectly put in his speech, 100 is just a sign post…it’s not a destination.  (Actually I don’t think he said that….but that’s the mist of his speech). I’m an addict who needs to continue doing the simple, free, easy things each day…to insure I stay quit that day.  It’s just an absolute bonus that I get to make these great friends along the way.

I’m no longer going to think my way out or into addiction…I’m going to take right actions….and those actions from here on out are about taking interest in my fellows.  Being there for their Quit…and mine will be covered in the process.

NOTE: This piece written by KillTheCan.org forum member Allpuck

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Eric James
Eric James
4 years ago

Great Post and Story! Similar to my gradual increase. Slept with one in quite a bit. Good motivation.

Thanks Allpuck!

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