1. Canada’s addiction warning label reads: “Warning: chewing tobacco is highly addictive. Studies have shown that tobacco can be harder to quit than heroin or cocaine.” There is no U.S. addiction-warning label. Respect nicotine’s amazing power and treat nicotine dependency as the true chemical dependency it is.
2. The law of addition states “administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance at the old level of use or greater.” Just one powerful chew of nicotine and you’ll have to endure nicotine detox all over again. We’re not that strong. Adherence to one rule guarantees success to all. Just one day at a time Never Take Another Chew!
3. Nicotine physically alters and desensitizes the human mind. It causes eleven different brain regions to grow millions of extra acetylcholine receptors. Successful quitting is allowing time for re-sensitization, time for reconditioning subconscious nicotine feeding cues, and time to move beyond years of conscious chewing rationalizations.
4. Nicotine dependency is every bit as real and permanent as alcoholism. Don’t play games with yourself. There is no such thing as just one chew. It’s an all or nothing proposition.
5. Quitting chewing is not impossible. In fact, we have more ex-Chewers in the U.S. than current Chewers. Knowledge truly is power. Isn’t it time to turn on the lights?
6. While 90% of successful quitters quit entirely on their own, the odds of any particular uneducated and unsupported on-your-own attempt succeeding for one full year are roughly 5%. Anyone is fully capable of quitting if they make a 100% commitment to succeed.
7. Nicotine is an extremely addictive chemical with an I.Q. of zero. Although you’ll never be stronger than nicotine you don’t need to be. Your greatest weapon is, and always was, your vastly superior intelligence but only if put to work.
8. Only in a drug addict’s mind would the chemical depriving them of freedom and destroying their body be considered a friend, pal or companion. Chewing tobacco is not your friend. Imagine the sickness afflicting a mind that is willing to trade 5,000 sunrises for 1 chemical because the average long-term chewer will lose 15 years of their life.
9. Fear of success is the biggest obstacle to getting started. Your dependency-conditioned mind is likely terrified that life without chewing won’t be worth living. Within just two weeks you’ll begin to develop a true sense of both the gradually emerging beauty that is “you” and that life without nicotine is entirely doable.
10. Making an uneducated quitting attempt is like trying to land a plane without putting the wheels down. Use this site and WhyQuit.com to help you through your recovery. You don’t have to fight this alone. Listen to the people who have quit for over 100 days and do what they recommend. If you do, success is virtually guaranteed.
11. Forget about quitting “forever.” It is the biggest psychological bite imaginable. Instead, work at adopting a manageable “one day at a time” standard for measuring victory.
12. Nicotine dependency recovery is a temporary journey of re-adjustment. It transports you home to the richest sense of mental quiet and calm that you’ve known since nicotine assumed control over the flow of more than 200 of your body’s neurochemicals.
13. Nicotine’s half-life within your blood serum is roughly two hours. If quitting cold, 100% of nicotine and 90% of its metabolites will be out of your system within 72 hours. It’s then that neuronal re-sensitization (to acetylcholine) can begin in full.
14. According to June 2000 U.S. Dept. of Health Guideline, the six-month odds of quitting “on-your-own” are roughly 10%. Education, behavioral training and ongoing support can more than double those odds. It’s important to note that 90% of successful quitters quit cold turkey.
15. You may want to talk to your physician about Zyban or Wellbutrin (both bupropion). In clinical studies it performed roughly 15 percentage points above placebos at six months. Although its use comes with some risks, they pale in comparison to chewing’s risks.
16. A March 2003 study (Hughes) combined and averaged the seven over-the-counter nicotine patch and gum studies. It found that only 7% were still not chewing at six months. Imagine a product with a 93% failure rate. But it gets worse.
17. Have you already tried quitting with NRT once? If so, it’s important to note that only two studies have focused on repeat or second-time nicotine patch users. A 1993 study (Tonnesen) found that 0% of repeat patch users succeeded in quitting for 6 months and a 1995 study (Gourlay) found that just 1.6% quit. Unlike repeat abrupt nicotine cessation, the odds of success during subsequent NRT attempts generally decline.
18. A 1998 Cochrane Review of nine different hypnosis quit chewing studies concluded that “we have not shown that hypnotherapy has a greater effect on six month quit rates than other interventions or no treatment.”
19. A 2002 Cochrane Review of 22 different acupuncture studies concluded that “there is no clear evidence that acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy or electrostimulation are effective for chewing cessation.”
20. Once in battle, your mind may quickly forget many of the reasons that motivated you to quit chewing. Write yourself a loving reminder letter, carry it with you, and read it often.
21. As with achievement in almost all human endeavors, the wind beneath our recovery wings is not strength or willpower but dreams and desires. Keep them vibrant and on center-stage and no circumstance will deprive you of glory.
22. Each chew of nicotine was your spoon. It allowed you to skip meals without experiencing blood-sugar swing symptoms such as an inability to concentrate. Don’t skip meals.
23. You’d need to gain 75 extra pounds to equal the health risks of chewing one can a day. Eat vegetables and fruits instead of candies, chips and pastries to help avoid weight gain.
24. You cannot quit for others. It must be your gift to you. Quitting for a significant other comes with a natural sense of deprivation that will ultimately result in relapse.
25. A positive can-do attitude is important. We are what we think. Take pride in each hour of healing and freedom, and each challenge overcome. The next few minutes are all that matter and each is entirely do-able. Yes you can!
26. Years of chewing nicotine conditioned each of us to be impatient. Think about it. Within just 8 seconds a deprived nicotine addict could take a chew of nicotine and have it arrive and release dopamine within the brain. Realize the importance of patience to successful recovery. Baby steps, just one hour, challenge and day at a time and then celebrate the new found patience you demonstrated.
27. Get rid of all chewing tobacco. Keeping a stash of chewing tobacco makes as much sense as someone on suicide watch keeping a loaded gun handy just to prove they can. Fully commit.
28. If quitting cold turkey, drink plenty of acidic fruit juice the first three days. It will aid in removing the alkaloid nicotine from your body and help stabilize blood sugars.
29. Nicotine doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. Your blood caffeine level will rise by 203% if no intake reduction is made. Although not a problem for most, attempt reducing intake by roughly half if troubled by anxieties or difficulty sleeping.
30. You conditioned your mind to expect nicotine when encountering certain locations, times, events, people or emotions. Be prepared for each to trigger a brief crave episode. Encountering a trigger cannot trigger relapse unless you take a chew. Take heart, most triggers are reconditioned by a single encounter during which the subconscious mind fails to receive the expected result – nicotine.
31. In contrast to conscious thought fixation (the “nice juicy steak” type thinking), no subconsciously triggered crave episode will last longer than three minutes.
32. Nicotine cessation causes serious time distortion. Although no crave episode is longer than three minutes, the minutes can feel like hours. Keep a clock handy to maintain honest perspective.
33. The average number of crave episodes (each less than three minutes) experienced by the average quitter on their most challenging day of recovery is six episodes on day three.
34. The average quitter experiences just 1.4 crave episodes per day by day ten. If a later crave episode ever feels more intense it’s likely that it has been some time since your last challenge and you’ve dropped your guard a bit. See it as a wonderful sign of healing.
35. Recognize the fact that everything you did as a Chewer you will learn to again comfortably do as an ex-Chewer. You need not give up anything except nicotine.
36. Be extremely careful with alcohol use during the first two weeks. Using an inhibition diminishing substance while engaged in early physical nicotine withdrawal is a recipe for relapse.
37. Engage is some moderate form of regular exercise if at all concerned about weight gain.
38. Don’t expect family or friends who have never been chemically dependent themselves to have any appreciation of your challenges or the time required to achieve full comfort.
39. Recognize that chewing nicotine did not relieve stress but only its own absence. Nicotine is an alkaloid. Stress is an acid-producing event capable of quickly neutralizing the body’s nicotine reserves. As Chewers we added withdrawal symptoms at every stressful event. You will soon discover an amazing sense of calm during crisis.
40. Recognize that chewing nicotine cannot solve any crisis. There is absolutely no legitimate excuse for relapse, including the eventual inevitable death of those we love.
41. Unlike with less than 3 minute subconscious crave episodes, we can consciously fixate on any thought of wanting to chew. Don’t try to run or hide but instead place the thought under honest light. Flavor? Any tastebud cravings? Just one chew? Not for an addict there isn’t.
42. Consider yourself a “nic-o-holic.” Don’t debate with yourself about wanting “a” chew. Instead, ask yourself how you’d feel about going back to your old level of consumption.
43. Save the money you usually spend on chewing tobacco and buy yourself something you really want after a week or a month. Save for a year and treat yourself to a vacation.
44. Practice slow deep breathing when experiencing a crave episode. Try briefly clearing your mind of all needless chatter by focusing on your favorite person, place or thing.
45. Quickly climb from that deep Chewer’s rut by visiting places where you couldn’t chew, albeit they may be limited, but by engaging in activities lasting longer than an hour we push our normal limits of physical endurance.
46. Tell people around you that you have quit chewing. Fully commit to your recovery while taking pride in each and every hour and day of freedom and healing.
47. Avoid crutches. A crutch is any form of quitting reliance that you lean upon so heavily in supporting your quit (yes, a noun) that if quickly removed would likely result in relapse. SMC could apply here if it simply replacing the daily habit. Remember, everything in moderation.
48. Do not lean heavily upon a quitting buddy who quits at the same time as you, as their odds of successfully quitting for one year are extremely small. Instead ask an ex-Chewer for support and use this web site to help fuel your recovery.
49. Are you having trouble getting started or is your motivation in need of a boost? Read articles on this site, visit the HOF section, write up a contract to quit. Knowledge is power and this addiction can be arrested, one hour, challenge and one day at a time. Most important, you don’t have to do it alone and remember, if you do try to combat this alone, your chances of abstaining from tobacco use for longer than six months is less than 7%. Certainly not the best odds.
50. Be prepared for an extremely vivid chewing dream and potentially several cave dreams. These are normal experiences as your subconscious works this out in your sleep. See it as the wonderful sign of healing. It reflects and nothing more.
51. Regardless of how long you’ve chewed, how old you are, or how badly you’ve damaged your body, it’s never too late to arrest your dependency, become its master, and commence the deepest healing your body has likely ever known.
52. Study Chewers closely. They are not chewing nicotine to tease you. They do so because they must, in order to replenish a constantly falling blood-serum nicotine level. Most nicotine is chewed while on autopilot. What cue triggered the public feeding you’re now witnessing? Watch acid-producing events such as stress or alcohol quickly neutralize their body’s nicotine reserves. You are witnessing an endless mandatory cycle of replenishment.
53. What should you call yourself? Although it’s normal to want to be a non-Chewer, there is a major distinction between a never-Chewer and an ex-Chewer. Only the ex-Chewer needs to protect against relapse.
54. Don’t let complacency destroy your healing and glory. The ingredients for relapse are a failing memory of why we quit, rewriting the law of addiction to exclude ourselves, and an excuse such disloyalty, stress, war, death, celebration or a cigar at the birth of a baby.
55. Remember that there are only two good reasons to take a chew once you quit. You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption until chewing cripples and then kills you, or, you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and you want to make it last forever. As long as neither of these options appeals to you – just one day at a time … NEVER TAKE ANOTHER CHEW!
© Joel Spitzer 2005
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.