When I think back over my 30 years of using nicotine, first, I think about how stupid I was to allow myself to be controlled for so long. I think about the future damage I have possibly done to my body and health. I think about how many opportunities I had to be free of it at a much younger age. I think about the stupid reasons I caved on all of my failed quits… and I get angry with myself. Yes, there were plenty of influences, but it was my choice every single time I put a dip in my mouth.
How I started
I first put a Copenhagen into my mouth at age 10. I bummed it off of a fellow 5th grader – how sad is that? I put a dip in my lip, and about 2 minutes later had to spit it out of my mouth and sit down on the curb for 10 minutes, because I was so dizzy and sick that I thought I was gonna fall over.
I never dipped again until I was 15. The 2 friends I got rides to school with, both chewed copenhagen, and eventually talked me into joining them. At first, it was only on the way to and from school – I took some of their chew, sucked on it for the 15 minute ride to school, and back home again, and that was it for the day.
Well you all know that story – soon I was sneaking a few small chews during school, even tho it was against the rules. Soon after that, I started buying my own can so I could chew all day at school. That also led to ninja dipping in the evenings so my mom wouldn’t know. So now I was dipping all day long. I was hooked at 16.
My failed quits
Age 25. I was out of college, I’d been at my first “real” job for about 18 months, had a serious girlfriend, things were going well for me. I made my first “attempt” to quit chewing. Most of my friends still chewed, so I was going it basically alone. Amazingly, I made it about 8 months, cold turkey. But then life got a bit stressful. A 2-year relationship with my girlfriend ended, and later that same month, I was laid off from my job. It was too much to handle, or so I thought – so I ran back to the can. I made the conscious choice to start chewing again, to “relieve stress”. Ruined an 8-month stoppage.
The next year, I had relocated for work in Denver. I was living with 2 other guys, neither of whom chewed, so I thought it was a great opportunity to finally quit. So I “tried”. This time I made it 5 months. One night, I went out with friends to a concert, after a few beers. I saw a cute girl I wanted to meet, and her circle of friends were all smoking. So I used that as my icebreaker – I went over and bummed a cigarette, thinking I could do so without starting chewing again. By the end of the night I’d smoked several, and on the way home, the nicotine “buzz” was starting to wear off, and I was craving – so I stopped at the store and bought a can. That was the end of that stoppage. (and to make it worse, nothing worked out with the girl, either, haha)
My Final Quit
Now here I am, age 45. I chewed for THIRTY years. I “tried” to quit many times, twice making it at least 5 months. But I always found a reason to go back. And this is the thought that scares me today, on Day 100. Why did my other quit attempts fail? And, what is different this time?
My other quits failed for a couple reasons. The first time, because I never closed the door completely, and when things got stressful, I ran to the can. It was my crutch. The next time, I failed because I never really thought of myself as an addict, and I thought that I could have a cigarette or two, and not start chewing again.
What is different this time? Several things. One – I’ve realized that I am an addict and can never have “just one” and that includes cigarettes, cigars, and any form of nicotine. Two, because now that I’m not in my 20’s anymore, I no longer have that “invincible” delusion and I know that tobacco will eventually kill me, for real, if I keep using. And Three, most importantly – because I’m not alone. Now have an amazing support group on KTC, a group of people who have gone thru exactly what I went thru and all have my back every single day, during strong moments and during weak moments. This is what will be the difference this time! I learned to take this quit one day at a time, and that’s what I do. I’m just finishing my 100th day, I feel great, and I’m looking forward to Day 101.