Minimizing the Most Common Side Effects to Quitting Chewing

Blood sugar plummets in many people when first quitting. The most common side effects felt during the first three days can often be traced back to blood sugar issues. Symptoms such as headache, inability to concentrate, dizziness, time perception distortions, and the ubiquitous sweet tooth encountered by many, are often associated with this blood sugar drop. The symptoms of low blood sugar are basically the same symptoms as not having enough oxygen, similar to reactions experienced at high altitudes. The reason being the inadequate supply of sugar and/or oxygen means the brain is getting an incomplete fuel. If you have plenty of one and not enough of the other, your brain cannot function at any form of optimal level. When you quit chewing, oxygen levels are often better than they have been in years, but with a limited supply of sugar it can’t properly fuel your brain.

It is not that chewing tobacco put sugar into your blood stream; it is more of a drug interaction of the stimulant effect of nicotine that affects the blood sugar levels. Chewing tobacco cause the body to release its own stores of sugar and fat by a drug type of interaction. That is how it basically operated as an appetite suppressant, affecting the satiety centers of your hypothalamus. As far as for the sugar levels, nicotine in fact works much more efficiently than food. If you use food to elevate blood sugar levels, it literally takes up to 20 minutes from the time you chew and swallow the food before it is released to the blood, and thus the brain, for its desired effect of fueling your brain. Chewing tobacco, by working through a drug interaction cause the body to release its own stores of sugar, but not in 20 minutes but usually in a matter of seconds. In a sense, your body has not had to release sugar on its own in years, you have done it by using nicotine’s drug effect!

This is why many people really gorge themselves on food upon cessation. They start to experience a drop in blood sugar and instinctively reach for something sweet. Upon finishing the food, they still feel symptomatic. Of course they do, it takes them a minute or two to eat, but the blood sugar isn’t boosted for another 18 minutes. Since they are not feeling immediately better, they eat a little more. They continue to consume more and more food, minute after minute until they finally they start to feel better. Again if they are waiting for the blood sugar to go up we are talking about 20 minutes after the first swallow. People can eat a lot of food in 20 minutes. But they begin to believe that this was the amount needed before feeling better. This can be repeated numerous times throughout the day thus causing a lot of calories being consumed and causing weight gain to become a real risk.

When you abruptly quit dipping, the body is in kind of a state of loss, not knowing how to work normally since it has not worked normally in such a long time. Usually by the third day, though, your body will readjust and release sugar as it is needed. Without eating any more your body will just figure out how to regulate blood sugar more efficiently.

You may find though that you do have to change dietary patterns to one that is more normal for you. Normal is not what it was as a dipper, but more what it was before you took up chewing with aging thrown in. Some people go until evening without eating while they are chewers. If they try the same routine as ex-chewers they will suffer side effects of low blood sugar. It is not that there is something wrong with them now, they were abnormal before for all practical purposes. This doesn’t mean they should eat more food, but it may mean they need to redistribute the food eaten to a more spread out pattern so they are getting blood sugar doses throughout the day as nature really had always intended.

To minimize some of the real low blood sugar effects of the first few days it really can help to keep drinking juice throughout the day. After the fourth day though, this should no longer be necessary as your body should be able to release sugar stores if your diet is normalized. If you are having problems that are indicative of blood sugar issues beyond day three, it wouldn’t hurt talking to your doctor and maybe getting some nutritional counseling.

© Joel Spitzer 2001
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.


  1. by the way, I put on 15 lbs. but after 2 years I finally started being able to lower it again. Just so you know it us worth what you are going through now.

  2. i had strong urges up to a year after I quit. It has been a little over 2 years since I quite and I still get urges, but not as strong as a year ago, and not as often either.

  3. I’ve been chewing wintergreen Copenhagen for about 10 years. I stopped multiple times cold turkey for months. Hardest thing to do ever. I noticed I get a lot more angry and annoyed by the smallest things. What helped me every time was making it an entire life style change. Because I quit I started eating better foods. Starting working out. I directed my addiction towards things that would benefit me more. But I am also week and have fallen back into it multiple times. Currently chewing but am seriously wanting to be done forever. Had to have my first tooth pulled about 6 months ago. Don’t think it was chewing related. Had a filling fall out and the tooth started rotting inside. I’m sure chewing didn’t help the decay. But long story short. Not having that tooth is a constant reminder that my mouth isn’t getting any better at this

  4. I picked up chewing to quit smoking in 2009, even though I quit smoking since 2009, and don’t have any addiction problem to smoking now, but I was hooked to chewing tobacco. This Christmas would make it exactly one week of dip free. I used a can and half of Copenhagen wintergreen pouches day. What so far helped me is Nicorette gum. I would put one in chew like 10 times and spit the juices out.
    I still get anxiety attacks, insomnia and headaches. I also quit Marijuanna edibles I was taking daily for my anxiety and PTSD from war. I never drank, cause I never liked it.
    Next year I will be 40 years old, I want to be drug free including any sleep aid

  5. I just recently quit (4th day). So far vaping and the fake stuff in a can has been working for me. I chewed 2-3 cans of kodiak per day for 12 or so years. The 1st day was hell. Couldn’t concentrate felt dizzy a bit. I’ve got an emergency can in my work van that still hasn’t been opened. So far I’m good to go

    1. First day hell, me too, 25 year can a day kodiak guy here. May 10,2017 was my last chew. It’s $8.48 a can in my town not to mention the poison it truly is. I took it as a me VS the company. I also need a 4 wheeler badly now I can easily afford one and pay it off in 2.5 years. I’m done lining the pockets of tobacco people. They should be paying in yearly to healthcare because they’re right up there as reasons our premiums etc are so high and dental also. I hate tobacco and feel heavy guilt about being a weak man, well I can win once again. And you can to save your money, stay strong, and you can do it, win the mental game and walk proud, you don’t need that poison in your mouth ever again !

  6. I have been 4 months sober i quit drinking cold turkey and it was hell i had to where a heart monitor for a month the first week was so bad i had anxiety attacks i guess. it was rappid heart beat and i mean rapid i would have to walk around i walked around for an hour the first time if i tried to sit down i would shake uncontrollably. This went on for awhile i would have them then would feel. Cold and go to sleep shakeing and twitching.i still deal with anxiety on a daily although not as intense.i want to quit dipping now but dont think i should go cold turkey

    1. I’m 52 and I’m 2 years sober March 2 ,,, and 6 months no Copenhagen (nicotine) March 18. I had to wait on my tobacco because I wasn’t spiritually fit enough. These obsessions were removed by God. Dealing with the emotions and feelings was all about me staying spiritually fit, specially the anger issues. Was doing 1 and 1/4 cans a day, dipping for thirty six years. You can do it, praying helps me with my anger.

  7. I smoked cigs for 10 years, dipped cope straight for 5 and camel sinus the last year. Time to quit, second son is coming.

  8. I quit after 40+ year of dipping Copenhagen, I had to quit cold turkey because of having back surgery and the doctor said that dipping would not allow my bones to heal properly, so I quit. It has been 5 weeks and I am having a very hard time of it, I can’t stop the need to eat. I have gained about 20 pounds. I have been trying to just chew gun and drink lots and lots of water, but this ain’t getting it done! I found on line this Herbal snuff that is supposed to help step you down. I have order it and will try it. I am not sure but I got to do something. I really want to quit.

    Oh and for those of you that suggest looking at picture of Oral Cancer….don’t do squat for me. as I said I have been dipping for 40+ year and have none of the signs shown in these pictures. I am glad it helps some though.

  9. I am on day 28 after using a can of Camel Snus a day for the last four years. I quit because I began to develop alopecia barbae that I feel was caused by nicotine poisoning. The physical withdrawal symptoms have not been too bad but around the two week mark I started to experience extreme anxiety and depression. Currently it seems I am only having the panic attacks for 2-4 hours spurts and I have self diagnosed different kinds of cancer a minimum of 8 times. I’m hoping after the 1 month mark everything will be fairly cleared from my system and I will go to the Dr. for a full physical checkup and blood work for peace of mind. I post this so that anyone else experiencing these feelings knows they are not alone.

    1. I chewed Copenhagen for last 20 years. Got rid of it went now to pouches but having bad withdrawals. No appetite is this normal???? Want to quit all of it but not sure I can handle it

  10. my fiancé quit dipping about 4 months ago. he got through all of the major withdrawals but now he says he is always in a bad mood and feels he needs it whenever he smells cigarette smoke or dip. he says he wants to start up again. any suggestions on how to better his mood and minimizing the feeling of needing it?

  11. Quit chewing about 40 hours ago, chewed grizzly wintergreen long cut for 4 years. About a can a day. The first 24 hours were pretty easy, but today I’ve been feeling more withdrawals (headaches, dizziness, lack of concentration, feeling weak) I’ve been chewing some of the smokey mountain snuff. Any advice? Is it a bad option to use nicotteetre gum or lozenges?

    1. The problem with the gum / lozenges is that they reintroduce the substance (nicotine) that you are withdrawing from. Yes, they’ll “take the edge off” but they will also continue the addiction.

      Gut through it. Drink lots of water, get out and exercise. Cold turkey is the way to go for long term success. Also, if you haven’t, join our forums:

      27,000 + people who “get it” because we’ve all been there.

  12. The reason for the dizzy and weird stuff going on might be in the substitutions for chew we all use. Check out and you will be better informed on the stuff we put in our bodies that affect our lives. Trying to quit chew after 35 years I came to this site to start the process. Wish me luck, and pray we all make it through this man made scourge we chose to ingest. Smart bunch aint we?

  13. Hey Chris! I’m on day 124 without a chew. Much of my fog has lifted but I still have some anxiety… Like I just don’t feel right and get worried at times for no damn reason. You think this is normal? How bad was yours?? It was comforting to read that you had anxiety for 6 months. I won’t turn back… Just hoping this shit passes.

  14. If you think you’re gonna give in to the evil that is chewing snuff, and take a dip again, try this to stop your urge to start back; go to google or yahoo images, type in the search box “mouth cancer” look at the pictures, you won’t dip I promise! Seriously it works.

    1. I endorse this…that’s what I did. Whenever I wanted to chew tobacco after quitting I went to google image “oral cancer”. Enough reason not to chew any more.

  15. I’m currently on day 4 of stopping cold turkey. Been dipping grizzly wintergreen pouches for 4 years about 3-4 cans a week. I had swollen lymph node and freaked out but fortunately it has gone down. I feel very light headed especially when getting up and haven’t had rare bowel movements since I stopped. Any tips on how to deal with light headedness?

    1. Hi Monty, I just quite chew and I’m having sollowen lymph node. Did you’re swollen lymph node ever go away.

  16. The effects of quitting nicotine are usually much more devastating living with low blood sugar daily. In some people it never corrects. You are better off risking cancer then killing starving your brain cells of sugar. The second oldest woman in the world is from Nepal and has smoked for 95 years she is 112.

    1. You are not taking many things into considerations when you mention her age, she smokes and is still alive. She lives at a high elevation, her diet is completely different and I guarantee she exercises daily due to the way of life. Please show a statistic of someone who has died from quitting the can?! Now pull up the statistics for cancers directly related? You are making a mute point and should possibly express this NOT on a forum for people that are focused enough to quit.

  17. I started dipping in 2006… MCT, Camp Pendleton, right after boot camp.. I still remember the taste of Apple Blend Skoal and how sick it made me.. should have known right then that it wasn’t the road to travel.. My father has been dipping since well before I was born so I’ve always been exposed to it.. as of Jan. 2, 2016, i quit cold turkey.. smoking and dipping all in the same stroke.. I’ve had a can a day habit since forever, and the cigarettes were usually reserved for drinking alcohol or coffee.. the first two days were hell.. like I had the flu, and was damn sure I did accidentally come down with something at the same time I quit.. on top of that I work in the oilfield on a drilling rig and just about everybody either dips or smokes or both.. but I challenged myself for that two week hitch, and I exposed myself to other folks tobacco use in close proximity, and I essentially forced myself into a mindset where even the thought of dipping or smoking disgusted me.. I had a two weeks supply of snuff and smokes that I gave away.. I kept one opened can on my desk to look at, and that little guy was what fueled my hate fire.. I had almost no other symptoms other than feeling like I had the flu (and the shits) so I got really lucky to that end.. I pounded water and Motrin, and stayed busy.. chewed seeds and whatnot.. I went home for days off and by that point I didn’t need any kind of gum or seeds… my mouth has mostly healed up, I feel a lot better, (still got wierd bowel movements) and for the most part have good nights sleep.. I know some of you are going through hell and I know I damn sure did.. but once you get the nicotine flushed out of your system, it’s all a mind game.. if you can break yourself of the feeling of “needing” a dip or smoke, then you can break the habit… and trust me folks it’s not a one hitter quitter.. you’ve gotta be mean and nasty about it.. stand next to someone smoking, watch a guy throw in a fresh pinch.. and then convince yourself that it’s absolutely repulsive.. it’s worked for me so far… I haven’t even thought about relapsing because the thought just about makes me physically ill..

  18. It’s been a month and 5 days since my last dip of Grizzly long cut. I used those nicotine lozenges for 3 days and then threw them out and went cold turkey. Dipped 3 cans a week for years. It has not been easy since quitting. Had many sleepless nights. Heck I could swear to you that I could smell dip in my dreams a few times. I even smelled my fingers after waking up just to make sure. This stuff is hardcore and no joke. Glad I’ve made it this far. This website has helped a lot. I have been chewing on spicy beef jerky and cinnamon altoids. Been drinking lots of coffee in long car rides as well. I find having a substitute nearby has helped. Even hot tea. Thanks again.

  19. I’m in the same boat you are friend. I’m also 45 and started when I was 16. I am calling it quits tonight! Was worried about that white patch that most chewers have inside thier check or lip that could become the nasty C word! Went to dentist a few days ago. Luckily things look good except for a few cavities. I just feel it’s time. My gums are not in great shape and for some reason I’ve been worrying about my health lately. I guess it my little girls that have given me a change of heart. I wish everyone the best of luck in giving this darn addictive habit up. I’ll try to keep all posted on my progress.

    1. Good job my friend. It’s been 4 days since I’ve had a chew. Skoal fine cut for 25 plus years, almost 2 cans a day. I’m having really bad headaches so far

  20. My quit starts this afternoon. I’m hoping I can sleep part of any side effects off tonight. I refuse to allow this to make me feel like shit forever. I’m off/working from home for the remainder of the week. I’ve bought some sugar free candy, bottled water, and told the wife to leave me alone upstairs in my cave room for the remainder of the week. Can someone point me in the direction of getting hooked up with some people for support? Oh yea, lastly, I’m 45, been dipping a can or more a day since I was 18.

    1. I’ve been doing 2 cans a day since I was a teenager. I quit Saturday night at 8 00 pm . the reason I chose to quit was because when I would put a dip in I would git dizzy and nautious and a headache within a couple hours.

      1. I’ve been having the same effect last couple of weeks. I’ve been getting light headed and dizzy. I Chewed grizzly and skoal for 18 years and redman last 2. I’ve used redman to quit once before but not working this time.

  21. Been chewing Copenhagen for 44 years. This is the second time, I have quite. On the way to work last Thursday, I threw a 1/2 can out the window!!!! Hope I can do it for ever.

  22. I chewed for 36 heads and am now on day 4 of quitting, I. Having short hair SS of breath and I am coughing a lot but do t have a cold are these symptoms anybody else has had?

  23. I dipped Copenhagen long cut for 12yrs. Decided to quit Oct 2013. Rough few months but after 3-5 boxes of nicotine gum and cases of gum and candy I beat it. Sadly 8 months ago I started back. This time Copenhagen natural xtra long cut. I decided 4 days ago to quit. The withdrawals are worse this time. Can’t get enough to drink, my desire/ability to have sex has diminished considerably, the dizziness, the disconnected fog feeling and being irritable is worse this go round. But I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. I had a feeling my glucose levels were low but didn’t check. But that’s how I found this site. Good luck to all. If anyone needs help or needs encouragement just ask!

    1. You hang in there I’m gonna hold you to it,,, I’m on day 2 after 33 years on cope snuff, the strongest of em all but it can be beat

  24. I am wrapping up day two and other than the diarrhea I have had I’m doing ok. Chewed Copenhagen Snuff for 20 years while playing baseball. Keep up the good work everyone.

  25. I am getting married soon and in the process of moving in with my soon to be wife. I want to quit badly but when I go for 10-12 hour streaks without Copenhagen long cut Wintergreen (9 years after dropping smoking) I fall asleep randomly. She gets mad and thinks I’m being disrespectful by falling asleep. If I dip I perk right up. Does this ever end? Do I just need to drop it and see it through? Are there any good replacement behaviors I can use? Thanks!

  26. At 12:43 today, it will be my first week without chew since 8th grade. I’m 30. While I haven’t been at it as long as some of you, Im feeling many of the same side effects. The worst for me, by far, has been the headaches and neck aches. I can barely move my head left to right and when I do it feels like my head is going to explode. Sleeping hasn’t been the hottest either but with a 17 month old at home that’s nothing new. Just wondering if there is any advice for the headaches? Motrin and Advil do absolutely nothing to help.

    1. HYDRATE. Drinks lots of water. Drink until you don’t think you can drink anymore… then drink some more. That’s what worked for me.

  27. I chewed redman for over 50 years and finally quit because my dr said it is too bad for my blood sugar. It has been almost a solid month since my last chew and I feel worse and worse every day. The only time I’m not sick and feel happy is when I sleep and dream that I’m a kid fishing on the riverbank with my old hound dog Red and a big ol chew. Sigh, I don’t like this life much anymore.

  28. I am on day 10 from dipping scoal classic mint, but the dizziness is really bad, Especially when I get up in the morning. I have been injesting nicotine into my body for over 40 years in one form or another . It seemed easier in the first few says than it does now.

    1. I feel your pain. I am on day 8 and the cravings seem to get worse. I am using the nicotine gum to help but the brain fog and lack of concentration is killing me

  29. Day 8 for me. After about 14 years of almost a can per day. Lot of gum chewing, seeds…
    Anyone else having arthritis like symptoms. My fingers and knuckles are really sore

    1. I also had these symptoms. My knuckles and feet were very sore for several months but like the other withdrawal symptoms they eventually subsided.
      The knuckle soreness was very pronounced and I assumed not related to quitting nicotine because as much as I’d read, no where did anyone comment on having those symptoms. Now, after reading that you did, I am convinced it was nicotine related. Good luck with your quit.

      1. It’s better now Steve. Still have a bit of achiness in my knuckles. I did read that nicotine is good for arthritis. Haven’t had a chew since Jan.31st!

    1. I’m on day 4. I keep waking up every half hour, like someone startled me. I think it is funny… the strange things your body does, and the addiction does to your body is amazing! If you look at it as a fun experiment, and become amazed with the effects, you will kick the habit and enjoy doing it. It will become like a fun game against the addiction. Your body tries to panic you into taking another chew. If you realize that is what is happening, you’ll laugh about it, and your body will give up on Trying. Might as well find a way to look at it positively…

  30. Hwy Ron
    Wow. Over a month good job!
    My fog lasted almost 30-40 days: I was lucky on anxiety. Mine was mild

    The headache, damn I had them off and on for maybe 60 days;

    I can tell you when the fog lifts, and you get to feel more in control, you have it made!

    Hang in there, keep up the fight, as we all had the same battle

    Day 122

    1. I’m on day 104 after dipping for 36 years. I’ve quit twice for a year at a time. Same symptoms as most of you…weight gain, headaches, crazy dreams. However, my acid reflux is much better and it’s nice to not have to hide it from my wife. One day at a time.

  31. I chewed RedMan for 40+ years, went cold turkey Nov. 4, I still have anxiety at times,dizziness and headaches on the right side of my head. I crave choc candy several times a day and if relieves the tired lethargic feeling. How long does this last?

    1. I’ve chewed Copenhagen for 42 years. I’ve just completed day 3 without it. It’s 1:15am and I have to work tomorrow. If I drink any more water I’ll piss myself.
      any suggestions?

    2. I had severe anxiety for six months after quitting chewing tobacco. I believe that my coping mechanism to handle stress for years was nicotine. When i quit cold turkey my mind and body went a little haywire. I have been headstrong in getting better and now two years later i am feeling like my old self again.

      1. I am 30 been dippin since I was 12 (worked on a farm) quit 25 days now and have started having panic attacks do to anxiety really don’t wanna use nicotine ever again but can’t shake the anxiety. Never had a problem before but has gotten as bad as me having to call ambulance cuz couldn’t focus or come out of it. Someone please tell me this crap goes away don’t wanna doctors prescription for drugs or none of that either just wanna feel like me again!!!

        1. It’s been 7 months since I quit cold turkey. I was up to a can a day. I’ve been dipping for 20 years. Today feels like day 1. The urges are insane. I have body aches, anxiety through the roof, I’ve put on 16 pounds, I can’t sleep again and I’m starting to get frustrated very easily with the people around me. Is there an end in sight? I’m trying not to let the urge win but I don’t know how much longer I can take it.

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