I’m probably not much different than a lot of others here, I started chewing when I was about 11-12 years old. I was very interested in baseball, so I was initially influenced by watching the major league players chew this crap. All of my neighborhood friends joined in, and we stored our stash in one of our friends backyard shed.
As the years passed, the other kids in the neighborhood stopped chewing and I continued. Throughout high school I continued my habit. Finally, when I got to college, It occurred to me that I should quit, and I did, but only to start smoking. So I mostly smoked throughout college, giving up chewing. As I was about to graduate, I started to have trouble breathing, so I decided to do the “flip-flop” again and started chewing. From this point on I had not smoked – but only continued chewing.
About 9 years ago, I noticed a spot on my gums that was whitish and did not go away like others that I had in the past. It really scared the shit out of me , and eventually I went to an oral surgeon, who said that it was probably not cancer, but I should quit because it could develop into that. Well it was not cancer, and this turned into my first quit attempt, which lasted about 6 months. However, I was not really quitting, because the whole time I was chewing the nic gum. Eventually when my mouth cleared up, I snuck a chew, then another, and before you know it, I was back full force.
My next scare was about 4 years ago, more white patches, but different than the last time. They would go away if I took regular chewing gum and put it in my chew pocket. However, they would come back in a few hours if I left the gum out. So I ended up seeing another oral surgeon (not the same one I saw previously, because I was too scared to go back to the same one) – and it was another false alarm.
As you can guess, I started again, however I think after this 2nd scare, I realized that I needed really do something about this. I tried to decrease my usage, but for the longest time, I was not able to completely stop. I would try to “recycle” my snuff, so that a can would last a week, instead of 2 days. I eventually cut back my usage so that I did not chew in certain places – the metro, at work, out with my wife, etc. However, having a primary care physician that chews himself didn’t help me much, although he always encouraged me to quit.
I had a lot of signs that influenced me to quit in the past, all of which, I feel, had an impact on my quit. The words of the oral surgeons in my past, a lady at a steelers game who saw me putting in a snuff and said – “thats what killed my husband!”, my wife’s OB/GYN who told me the horrors of oral cancer, and finally, just the burden of knowing that what I am doing will ultimately kill or mame me in a way that will probably effect the others around me more than myself.
When I finally made the decision to quit, it was kind of unexpected, but I knew it was my time. August 4, 2008, a day I will never forget, the beginning of my life without snuff. The first week was hell on earth, I was a complete bastard to everyone around me. But, given the fact that I had drastically decreased my usage over the past several months prior to my quit I think helped me enormously. I co-worker (ChewMonkey) told me he was up to 3 pouches a day, and then quit cold turkey, which Im sure is probably the hardest way to go. But If I were asked to give a recommendation on the best strategy, it would be to decrease your usage as low as you can prior to your quit. The physical symptoms will be much less when you finally quit. And DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use any form of nic gum!!!!! It didnt work for me the 2 times i tried to quit, and it has a 95% failure rate!!!!!
Finally – all the people I need to thank – my family for putting up with all my bullshit over the years, and through my quit; everyone in my quit group for providing support during this time; ChewMonkey, for your guidance and support; and finally I give my thanks to God, for without his grace, it would not be possible for me to have gotten this far.