We are Nicotine Addicts! Recovery is a temporary period of re-adjustment during which the mind and body are allowed to undergo an amazing healing process. It’s a period when the brain is permitted to physically re-sensitize neuronal pathways to again functioning without nicotine. It’s giving the subconscious mind time to encounter and break free of years of dependency conditioning, and the conscious thinking mind an opportunity to adapt to the physical changes, cope with re-conditioning, and transverse years of dependency rationalizations. It’s allowing yourself the time needed to arrive at a day when “you” can again comfortably engage all aspects of life without a physical, subconscious or conscious need for nicotine.
Although we should expect anxiety producing bumps in the road, with each passing day fewer and fewer thoughts of wanting to chew will occur. Recovery is the period when deeply ingrained psychological nicotine feeding cues, fathered by true chemical dependency, are broken. It’s a matter of staying prepared, as a few such cues may be seasonal, mood related or associated with infrequent activities or events.
Whether nicotine dependency was established and/or maintained by being chewed, smoked, drank, snuffed, sprayed, swallowed, sucked, licked or patched, in the end there is only one way out – no nicotine today.
Every recovery is different. The number and intensity of effects noticed or felt varies from person to person, and even between each person’s own cessation experiences. Many are surprised to find that they experience almost no symptoms at all while others are confronted with multiple symptoms. The number and types of particular feeding cues selected and formed by endless compliance with the mind’s chemical demand for nicotine refueling also cause each person’s recovery experience to be almost unique.
By understanding some of the symptoms and effects it may be possible, in some instances, to minimize their impact by thought or action. Removing the mystery associated with the sequencing and timing of withdrawal and recovery will hopefully make you feel like you have your very own roadmap to the rich sense of comfort, mental quiet and calm awaiting you at the other end of Freedom’s Road. We didn’t suck tissue destroying weeds composed of over 4,000 chemicals that included ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic, butane, hydrogen cyanide, lead, mercury, vinyl chloride, methane or vast quantities of other poisons into our body because we wanted to watch each chew destroy a bit more of our capacity to receive and circulate life-giving oxygen. We did so to get to the nicotine. Is it time to end our own senseless self-destruction?
Nicotine is a colorless, odorless, organic-based alkaloid in the same family as cocaine, morphine, quinine and strychnine, yet it is more poisonous than either arsenic or strychnine. Although cocaine and heroin both produce powerfully intoxicating illegal highs, governments, experts and studies now tell us that neither is as effective at creating chemical “dependency” as nicotine. The one-year success rate for those who go through heroin withdrawal is roughly 20%, whereas with nicotine it’s closer to 5%. Except for the type of high experienced and that fact that our stimulant is legal, we truly are drug addicts, just as much as the addicts that fill jails and prisons around the globe. In 1998 tobacco killed 25 times more Americans than all illegal drugs combined (418,690 to 16,926 – U.S. Center for Disease Control).
Don’t Talk Yourself Into Having Symptoms – If you have a toothache at the same time you have a headache, the one that will receive the most attention and focus is the one generating the greatest pain or the most discomfort. As soon as the discomfort from your primary concern falls below that of your secondary concern, your focus will immediately shift to the other. We do the same type of primary/secondary focusing with the effects of withdrawal and phases of nicotine dependency recovery. Sometimes we don’t even notice a particular symptom until the discomfort of a prior one subsides.
Although the intensity of each remaining effect may be far less significant than the one that preceded it, the mind of the drug addict is looking for any excuse to relapse. After the dramatic reduction in overall symptoms and effects experienced within the first 72 hours, recovery remains continuous yet at times so gradual that – like trying to watch a rose bud open – it almost becomes impossible to notice change. Yet, within just 2 to 4 months the adjustment process transports most in recovery to a point where they experience that very first day where they never once “think” to themselves, “gee, I’d sure like a chew!” After the first such day they become more and more common. Soon, they become your new norm in life, with the distance between the occasional “thought” growing further and further apart.
Imagine entire days, weeks, months and possibly even years, where your mind never once “wants” to chew nicotine. Imagine living in a constant state of 100% total comfort with no chewing related anxieties whatsoever – none, zero, nil, complete and total tranquility. It’s where hundreds of millions of comfortable ex-Chewers reside today. Were any of them truly stronger than nicotine? Were any of them stronger than you or was that just another lame excuse? Breaking free doesn’t take muscle or mountains of willpower. It takes dreams and honest reasons for wanting those dreams, that are kept vivid, remembered, alive, and in the front-seat of your mind. Your odds of success will be substantially enhanced by study, understanding, patience, an appreciation for the true power of one chew of nicotine, and a bit of love of self or at least a wee bit of “like”. Again, it takes following only simple rule – just one day at a time, no nicotine in any form, Never Take Another Chew, Snuff or Dip
Upon arresting my thirty-year and three can-a-day dependency, my recovery evolved to the point of substantial comfort by about eight weeks, a few weeks earlier than most but later than some. It was then that I experienced my last major subconscious crave episode and started to notice that the once steady stream of thoughts of wanting were ever so slowly becoming fewer, shorter and generally less intense.
During the first few weeks, I worked hard to maintain a strong positive attitude while refusing to allow negative thoughts to infect my thinking and dreams. While feeding myself large doses of positive thought I also confronted and analyzed those remaining thoughts that seemed to keep inviting relapse. Soon, it was no longer a matter of trying to believe what I was telling myself. I did believe in the new nicotine-free me!
Although at times intense, I did my best to remain focused on the long overdue healing occurring inside this body. I saw each and every day as a full and complete victory in and of itself. Today I was free and today I continued to heal! The little gifts along the way – the smells, tastes, energy, extra pocket change, the whiteness emerging in the smile, pride, empty pockets, a bit bigger step, odorless fingers, hope, endurance, an ash-less world, new found time, long overdue self-respect, gradually lengthening periods of comfort, freedom and even the few extra pounds – was simply me coming home to meet me.
I encourage you not to fight recovery but to find joy in it. Welcome each crave and thought, and embrace them as a very necessary part of this amazing temporary journey of re-adjustment. It’s nice never having to quit again. Our prior attempts failed because we lacked understanding. Our eyes and minds are open and this time we’re going the distance, headed home to again reside inside a quiet mind and to again meet the real “us”!
The problem with symptom lists, such as this, is that simply by reading them we tend to lead our minds to look for and expect symptoms to occur. In fact, mental expectations are capable of generating mental symptoms. This phenomenon – known as psychological overlay – is very real. Most starting home do NOT experience the majority of the symptoms listed below. They are shown here only to educate, allay unnecessary concerns and/or to satisfy curiosity.
Do not sell your mind on the belief that starting your new life needs to be painful or intense. If you relax, maintain a positive attitude, keep your reasons for wanting to break free in the forefront of your mind, abandon the unrealistic standard of “quitting forever” (the biggest bite imaginable) and instead focus on only the next hour, challenge or day (there is no need to see yourself eating the entire elephant when one bite at a time is all your mouth can hold), drink plenty of fruit juice for the first three days to keep your blood sugar level, don’t skip meals, reduce your caffeine intake by roughly half if you’re a big caffeine user, this adventure toward meeting the nicotine-free and comfortable you may turn out to be the most enjoyable and deeply satisfying experience of your entire life, even if challenged now and then.
We are what we think. If we think recovery will be difficult then it why shouldn’t it be? If we believe that the healing happening inside our body is utterly amazing then it is. If we keep thinking we will fail then chances are we will. Believe that no force or circumstance on his planet can stop our quest for freedom then nothing can. Victory is in the mind!
© WhyQuit.Com 2000, 2013
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.