The purpose of this HOF speech is hopefully to convince any addicted nicotine users to make that final decision to give it up, or strengthen the quits that are already in progress.
For background, I started on nicotine at some point when I was in college. Smoking cigarettes while drinking, led to smoking cigarettes while not drinking, which led to chewing tobacco when smoking wasn’t convenient. Which then led to chewing pretty exclusively after I started a family. I always knew it wasn’t good for me, but I was young and invincible and could stop whenever I wanted….(obvious BS). My family knew I was a nicotine user. They had no idea how much, but were always on my ass about quitting. I gave them lip service for years, but never really made any attempt. My wife would find my chew and promptly throw it out frequently, which made me so god damned mad, but I knew I had no argument against her.
Here are the bullshit excuses I would tell myself over the years:
“I just graduated college, I am still young. I will quit when I am 25.”
25 came and went, didn’t quit.
“I will quit when I get married.”
Got married, didn’t quit.
“I will quit when I turn 30.”
Turned 30, didn’t quit.
“I will quit when my child is born.”
Didn’t happen, and you get the picture. It continued on a while longer; the bullshit excuses and justifications that nicotine makes every addict an expert at.
That feeling of thinking I could quit whenever changed when I was older. My attitude shifted to “believing” I couldn’t quit, even though I wanted to. I can’t count the number of times this scenario played out: I played video games with a chew in and before I went to bed, I would take the dip out in the bathroom I would look at myself in the mirror and as I was cleaning out my mouth, and ask myself these questions: “Why do you do this? What do you gain from this? Why won’t you stop?”
I finally made the decision to quit this last year. I was sick of being a slave. I was a slave to my worry about getting mouth cancer, worrying about if I had enough nicotine, worrying about when I would be able to chew on family trips to get my nicotine fix. The final thing that pushed me over the edge to make the decision was this: I realized I was dreaming of going on a tropical vacation, and in that vision I was having a chew while watching the sunset. That’s when I said enough was enough. I thought “If I cant even have a fucking dream of going on vacation and enjoying an ocean sunset without nicotine invading my mind, this shit has to stop now”. I hated not having control.
Fast forward to today. I am 38 years old, 100+ days quit, and I feel fantastic. There are days here and there that I have a craving, or am anxious, but those are getting fewer and farther between. I ask myself frequently why I didn’t quit sooner.
I want to share with future and current quitters what helped me. Obviously these aren’t original to me, but it is the advice that helped me the most.
#1: Hands down the most factual statement about quitting: THIS HAS GOT TO BE YOUR QUIT. No one else’s. If someone is making you quit, it’s not your quit. You will hold resentment towards that person, and it’s not healthy for your relationships, and you will fail. You have got to WANT IT.
#2: Exercise- this saved me from the terrible anxiety that quitting nicotine can bring on. Make a healthy habit out of your old one. Release those feel good hormones from exercise; when quitting nicotine, your body is craving it.
#3: Quitting nicotine is more than just quitting nicotine. You are quitting from avoiding your problems by throwing in a dip and not worrying about it. You have to find a different release for your stress. Wood working, running, reading, etc.
#4: Embrace the suck. It’s no joke, the first days of quitting are terrible. Dizziness, fog, anger, depression, sleeplessness, bad anxiety, are just a few of the things I went through early in my quit. They have tapered off, and I will never go through that shit again.
#5: Last but not least, use the KTC community. Odds are your wife or kids or whomever doesnt know exactly 100% of what you are going through. The KTC community does. To know that others have your back that went through the shit, or are currently going through the shit really does mean a lot and will only help. Accountability with your brothers in quit makes a world of difference.
You have the chance to act now. Stop kicking the can down the road. Start now and don’t look back, you will not regret it.