This concept is taught by almost all programs devoted to dealing with substance abuse or emotional conflict of any kind. The reason that it is so often quoted is that it is universally applicable to almost any traumatic situation.
Dealing with quitting chewing is no exception. Along with NEVER TAKE ANOTHER CHEW, ONE DAY AT A TIME is the key technique which gives the Chewer the strength to successfully quit chewing and stay free from the powerful grip of nicotine dependence.
When first quitting, the concept of ONE DAY AT A TIME is clearly superior to the Chewer thinking that he will never chew again for the rest of his life. For when the Chewer is first giving up chewing, he does not know whether or not he wants to go the rest of his life without chewing. Most of the time the Chewer envisions life as a non-Chewer as more stressful, painful, and less fun.
It is not until he quits chewing that he realizes his prior thoughts of what life is like as a non-Chewer were wrong. Once he quits he realizes that there is life after chewing. It is a cleaner, calmer, fuller and, most important, healthier life. Now the thought of returning to chewing becomes a repulsive concept. Even though the fears have reversed, the ONE DAY AT A TIME technique should still be maintained.
Now, as an ex-Chewer, he still has bad moments every now and then. Sometimes due to stress at home or work, or pleasant social situations, or to some other undefinable trigger situation, the desire for a chew surfaces. All he needs to do is say to himself, I won’t chew for the rest of today; and tomorrow I will worry about tomorrow. The urge will be over in seconds, and the next day he probably won’t even think of a dip.
But ONE DAY AT A TIME should not only be practiced when an urge is present. It should be practiced daily. Sometimes an ex-Chewer thinks it is no longer important to think in these terms. He goes on with the idea he will not chew again for the rest of his life. Assuming he is correct, when does he pat himself on the back for achieving his goal. When he is lying on his death bed he can enthusiastically proclaim, “I never chewed again.” What a great time for positive reinforcement.
Every day the ex-Chewer should wakeup thinking that he is not going to chew that day. And every night before he goes to sleep he should congratulate himself for sticking to his goal.
Pride is important in staying free from chewing tobacco. Not only is it important but well deserved. For anyone who has quit chewing has broken free from a very powerful addiction. For the first time in years, he has gained control over his life, rather than being controlled by his chew. For this, he should be proud.
So tonight, when you go to sleep, pat yourself on the back and say, “Another day without chewing, I feel great.” And tomorrow when you wake up, say, “I am going to try for another day. Tomorrow I will deal with tomorrow.”
© Joel Spitzer 1985
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.