Ask almost any current dipper why they continue to indulge in such a dangerous activity and they will normally reply, “Because I like chewing.” While they may say this in all honesty, it is a very misleading statement, both to the listener and to the dipper themselves. They do not chew because they enjoy chewing, rather they chew because they do not enjoy not chewing.
Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug. The chewer is in a constant battle to maintain a narrow range of nicotine in their blood stream (serum nicotine level). Every time the dipper’s serum nicotine level falls below the minimum limit, they experience drug withdrawal. They becomes tense, irritable, anxious and, in some cases, even show physical symptoms. They do not enjoy feeling these withdrawals. The only thing that will alleviate these acute symptoms will be a dip. The nicotine loss is then replenished and, hence, they feel better. They enjoy chewing.
A dipper must also be cautious not to exceed his upper limit of tolerance for nicotine or else suffer varying degrees of nicotine poisoning. Many chewers can attest to this condition. It usually occurs after parties or extremely tense situations when the user finds themselves exceeding their normal level of consumption. They feel sick, nauseous, dizzy and generally miserable.
Being a successful dipper is like being an accomplished tightrope walker. They must constantly maintain a balance between these two painful extremes of too much or too little nicotine. The fear which accompanies initial chewing cessation is that the rest of the ex-chewer’s entire life will be as horrible as the first few days without dip, snuff or chew. What ex-users will learn is that within a short period of time, the physical withdrawal will start to diminish. First, the urges will weaken in intensity and then become shorter in duration. There will be longer time intervals between urges. It will eventually reach the point where the ex-chewer will desire a chew very infrequently, if ever. Those who continue to chew will continue to be in a constant battle of maintaining their serum nicotine level.
Included in this battle is the great expense of buying tin after tin (or pouch after pouch) and the dangerous assault on the user’s body of ingesting the poison nicotine along with other toxic chemicals. These chemicals are deadly by themselves and even more so in combination.
So the next time you think of how much you once seemed to enjoy chew, sit back and take a serious, objective look at why you have such an idealization of these dangerous products. Consider all the consequences. You will probably realize that you feel physically and mentally better now than you ever did as a dipper. Consider all of this and – NEVER TAKE ANOTHER DIP!
© Joel Spitzer 1983
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.