In know this is long but I decided to not edit in order to make it shorter. If you decide to read it thank you and I hope it helps you in some way but if not I understand and ask that you at least read the conclusion.
The back-story to this is a familiar one: I am a white male, age 41, educated, professional, southern, married with children living in a nice home in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. I experimented with dip in my teens, used off and on through college, eventually turned the corner to full addiction, hid my addiction from the people in my life, lied about it to the people in my life, decided more than once that I wanted to quit, tried several times unsuccessfully to quit, believed that quitting was hopeless, eventually found this site, did things differently, eventually made it to the 100 day quit mark.
Past Attempts to Quit
To be specific, not counting the periods where I only occasionally used it, I regularly used smokeless tobacco from Nov 1997 to Aug 2009 and tried no less than four times to quit before this attempt. The first time I caved within a week due to the physical withdrawal symptoms. Second time I stuck it out a little more and made it to about two weeks before giving in. Third time I quit for over a month then decided that I simply liked dipping better than I liked not dipping so made the conscious decision to go back to it. Forth time I quit for over 45 days then once again decided that the benefits of dipping outweighed the risks and because I was happier with it than without it I went back to it.
You Are Not Alone.
I am going through all this to illustrate that I am probably not that much different from most anyone reading this. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking your circumstances are any different, that you have a right to be addicted, a good excuse, that you tried really hard so anyone should care that you cannot quit etc. Don’t beat up yourself either because no matter how much a loser you think you are there is always someone else that is just as bad off if not worse you so if you feel that way your first step is to get over it because you are not alone. Take a deep breath and just read around this board to see the types of issues people have had to overcome and the many types of people that have made this possible in their lives despite the various backgrounds and circumstances and it all starts to emerge that no matter what your background is we have seen it or lived it. You are not special. The right mental focus will be a good starting point.
How I Did it This Time.
1- Recognized that this is not simply a bad habit, it is an addition, a lifelong addiction. Habits can be broken with some effort. I have a bad habit of eating half a box of Vanilla Wafers at a time so I just tell my wife not to buy them and can easily live without them. If I happen to come across them I eat half the box anyway then move on as if nothing happened. Nicotine is an addiction though and additions require a permanent change in lifestyle. You cannot take this lightly if you are to succeed. You cannot experiment with this, have a “celebratory dip” or anything of that nature and expect to succeed. You have to make the decision to walk away and do it without looking back. I have to say that almost each day I think about dipping. I miss dipping but do not miss being addicted. I see it for what it is- not a lit match that can burn my finger if I am not careful but something that has the power to enslave me.
2- Got my MD involved. Not everyone will do his but I did and found it helpful. My suggestion is to at least let your MD know what you want to do because they usually have some insight that helps. My MD put me on Chantix. This is not a debate whether it is effective or safe. It was my personal and informed decision to use it knowing the risk factors for two weeks leading up to my quit date and for the first two weeks of my quit and I believe it helped. If nothing else the nausea it caused made me not think about the withdrawals. If you decide to go the medication route please let your wife (or closest partner) know so they can help monitor for any issues. Don’t go this route alone. No matter what though speak to your MD.
3- Got my wife involved. For some of you that will require coming clean with your wife to tell her for the first time that you use dip so be a man and do it. Others may have to get over the fact that their wives saw then fail at previous quit attempts. My view is that if she is your wife and you do not have the kind of relationship where you can support one another or see one another fail then you need to rethink your relationship. I can say that my wife was supportive despite my previous fails and it made a big difference. I have to tell you all she is not one of these super-wives. She is a very typical wife (a good wife but not some kind of saint or anything). I think her support should be somewhat normal for anyone to expect from their own wife unless you have a dysfunctional marriage. There were times when I was able to talk to her about my addiction and explain what it was like. It helped to have someone there to listen. Tell your wife that your support group is on line so she won’t think you are cheating on her when you spend so much time on line (and you wont have to alt tab to hide it if you come clean with her).
4- Found ways to cope with cravings. Seeds and gum are all a given for the oral fixation. I don’t know much about fake dip but probably would have used it if I had access to it. What I am talking about here is the mind set to beat cravings. The best way to for me cope with cravings was to tell myself that any craving was eventually going to pass whether I caved or not. Do you hear that? If you have a craving then giving in will certainly satisfy that craving- right? However if you wait it out, do pushups, drink water, recite the “litany against fear”… whatever… then guess what? Your craving will also eventually pass and will pass easier as time goes by. If you cannot get this into your mentality it will be difficult if not impossible to quit because you will probably reach that point where you think to yourself that your discomfort is permanent and that having a dip is the only way that your discomfort will be relieved. You have to live these words: this craving is going to pass whether I cave or not. And it will- I can promise that. You already know this but have to make it the North Star of your journey. When you are swimming in the fog of withdrawal you have to be able to say this and believe it.
5- Did not use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Most clinical studies I have seen show that it is not that effective. Perhaps it does work for some but I personally believe it is a mistake. I used NRT during two previous quits and it really only served to drag out the agony and feed my frustration since they are never enough to truly replace nicotine. The frustration factor from NRT was a major contributing factor to my caving the two times I used it, I found it best to make a clean break (with the Chantix as mentioned above). I handled cravings not with a piece of nic gum but using the method described above and with the support of my wife.
6- Participated in this support group. I believe that you should not attempt this path alone. Support groups make all the difference in the world and posting roll is about as good a support group as I could hope for. This has been proven in many clinical studies that support groups such as the one this site greatly increase chances of overcoming nicotine addition. I did not use the chat but I have heard that it helped many. I mostly read each HOF speech as it came out and posted roll. I few times I texted or got texts or PM’s from some of the members and have to say it really helped to know someone was out there on my side. Mostly though in reading the HOF speeches I realized that we are all pretty much the same- just a bunch of un-extraordinary people trying to break our addictions. It gave hope. I think if you make it you will look back on your participation here as one of the good points in your life.
If you are reading this and contemplating quitting I believe that you should be able to accomplish this if you are mentally straight, can tough it out some and have a plan to quit. I cannot guarantee that my suggestions above will work for you but they worked for me compared to not using them. No matter what feel free to contact me via PM and I will gladly lend you my support and encouragement. Also wanted to say thanks to my November group members (even though some of you never learned how to post roll without bumping others) and to our de facto leader Samcat for taking all that extra time to motivate the group and Professor Pinch for checking up on me. Thanks especially to my wife Michele who is also my best friend, my children who always look past my faults no matter what and to the founders and trustees of this website.
Remember the words of Paul the Apostle to his followers: “Let us not become weary … for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. Those words have always carried me. Sometimes I hate myself for not being the person I was meant to be and then remember that as long as I do not give up then moving forward even one inch is an accomplishment. Let those words carry you when you start to feel the same way.