“Whoa, this dip makes me feel like I’ve got superpowers”
“I only dip after class while doing homework”
“I can quit any time, I’m not addicted, it just feels good”
“Dipping helps me stay more alert during class”
“I’m a funnier, wittier, more clever person when I’m dipping”
“It’s better than smoking, right? I can alway get dentures”
“If I use pouches during the day, I can hide it better”
“I know, my gums are in bad shape doc, I’ve been cutting back”
“Man, I really like this girl, but I need to sneak a dip quick, my head is ringing”
“She still sees something in me, even though she knows I use this shit, she deserves for me to quit.”
“I promise, I’m cutting back”
“I hope no-one sees me scraping the sheets of dead skin from the inside of my cheeks”
“I’ll quit before the wedding”
“Shit, did my co-worker just see me sneak that pouch in?!”
“I’ll quit after our honeymoon”
“God damnit, I fell asleep before spitting out my dip, time to hack at the sink for 5 min, I feel like shit.”
“I’ll quit before our son is born”
“Shit, that sore in my mouth hasn’t been healing, is this it? Did I fuck up?”
“”Pouches AND long cut? You’re the only guy that buys both, well, here’s your receipt”, God, I hate that they keep making that joke.”
“I’ll quit before he’s old enough to remember me chewing”
“What if I DO quit; what if I’m intolerable, What If I’m an asshole. What if I don’t like who I am without it?”
Reflecting on the choices that led this this day, I feel bittersweet in celebrating 100 days. While this milestone feels like a journey in and of itself, I realize I’ve been on this road for years; a road that I could have stepped off of at any point in the prior 12 years, but didn’t. Every exit sign I passed, I convinced myself that the gas needle wasn’t yet buried, and I have a few more miles I could sneak out.
Like a typical addict, it started with experimentation. For me, it was in college when a roommate offered me some of these different exotic flavors I’d never seen before. Like a child in a candy store, I was drawn to the interesting flavors that still made my grandfather’s leaking tins of Skoal seem repulsive. It wasn’t dipping, it was ‘living life’ and trying something new.
Bumming dips after class turned into buying my own. Before I knew it, I was dipping during the day, to during class, to eventually dipping the entire time I was awake.
All this escalating to the point of driving to the gas station for ‘one more can’ during a storm, or during a pandemic, seemed like a non-issue. I began measuring my days based on how much chew I had left. “Can I make it through this weekend?” “It’s 11pm, but I won’t have enough for my ‘roll out of bed’ dip, gotta run to the gas-station, without waking up the family”
This is a road I could have avoided. A path I was not forced to travel, but I have traveled it none-the-less. I kept lying to myself, that I’d try to taper off, or that I’d quit cold turkey, but I always fell short of my own promises, because I knew I wouldn’t hold myself accountable.
What drove me to quit? A deadline and penalty. Irrevocably, I needed to quit, and test clean of cotinine, or pay up $1,040. I know, only a measly grand. “You don’t sound like you really want to quit” I was told. Truth be told, I didn’t. I also realized how completely asinine it would be for me to pay more in ‘fines’ than I did financing the addiction.
I knew I couldn’t make the emotional case to myself to quit, so I made a financial one.
Counting out the days I had until the test, and after hours of Googling “how to pass cotinine test”, I realized I only had a few days extra room if I stuck with it. I had no room to screw this up again.
I told my wife I was quitting, and with a slightly skeptic encouragement, she said “OK, that’s good”. I had read enough to realize I may very soon turn into a monster as the nicotine was purged from my system.
My worst fear, was that the person on the other end of this exit ramp, would not be the same person my wife (who never knew a me without nicotine) decided to make a life with, but the person on the prior road wasn’t either.
Armed with three 30 packs of Smokey Mountain, a bulk pack of Eclipse, a variety pack of Grindz, and I was off.
The patience was short, the tolerance was gone. I told co-workers whom I’d hidden the addiction from that I was “Cutting back on coffee, and having withdrawals”.
Somehow a half-lie was easier to tell than a full lie or the full truth. My days vacillated between a splitting headache, and periods of a dissociative sensation, as though my soul were trying to rip itself from my body. I knew this was temporary, 7 days to nicotine clearance, 14 days until symptoms start declining, 90 days until the brain no longer has a dependency.
There were craves, there were days I stared at the partial tins of dip in my drawer, asking “who will know, if I take a tiny pinch?”.
I’d know. I’d be willingly lying to every brother and sister I have on KTC that was going through the same struggle. I am an asshole, but I was not that much of an asshole. I can’t ask for these people to be there for me, if I can’t be honest with them.
Every day (except a couple posting snafus), it was the same routine, wake up, post, piss. Having to hold that first morning piss until you figure out your day count, refresh the group thread a few times, and then type out your commitment, is super motivating.
I can see the landscape for what it is more clearly from the day 100 base camp of my quit. The climb is not over, but I have made the first, most important part of the journey; I started. I am free of nicotine, my nervous system is healing from the stimulation of nicotine, and I’m regaining control. I am acclimating to an un-adulterated perception of the world again. The quit rage has subsided. I’m breaking fewer keyboards and mice from aggressive typing at work. I am now back in control of my emotions, my anger, my disappointment, my frustration. I no longer need nicotine as the crutch to ‘smooth’ these events over, to get through them more easily.
Remember me saying I didn’t want to quit? I’m glad I did. Whatever your motivation is, define your goal, make it quantifiable, reach out to others to provide the external motivation and accountability, and if you really need it, like me, stipulate the penalty for caving.
I look back and reflect on the fears, concerns, and excuses that I’d fed myself. With the hindsight perspective, the quit was hard, but it is not insurmountable, it just feels that way at the time. ODAAT. It gets better.