A dozen years ago, I was your typical 24/7 chewer. I knew it was out of control and had to end, but instead of looking for something useful like KTC, I ran into a coworker who was battling a smoking habit by chewing Nicorette. He claimed it was harmless and took the pain out of quitting, which was pretty much all I needed to hear at the time. He gave me a few pieces and they kept me from dipping for a whole afternoon. I headed to the nearest pharmacy to buy my first box.
Folded neatly inside that box was the promise of a miracle – a pamphlet with a program designed to wean users off nicotine in just 90 days. It promised all the gum I could chew for the first couple of weeks (yay no pain!) and then a little bit less each week and then like magic I’d be cured. Fifteen years of hardcore addiction solved in three painless months. It looked so scientific and doable. $60 a box? Who cares, it’s only for three months. Hell it’s an investment!!
Talk about suspension of disbelief. The manufacturers of Nicorette (big pharma) had found a legal way to get in on the nicotine business – why would they help you quit their own product? But you’re not looking for contrary evidence at a time like that. You’re desperate, and any miracle will do.
Turned out there was no science at all behind that program. I know… shocker. It was just a collection of flimsy theories designed to sell product, and what a product it was. Nicorette had all the ingredients of a blockbuster:
- Available anywhere anytime = delivers a drug to addicts, legally and without prescription
- Gazillions of desperate smokers and chewers out there = fast growing, global market
- Chewing gum for $0.60 a piece = absurdly high profit margins
- Nobody ever quits = recurring revenues
- We’re the good guys curing addicts with our harmless product! = no tobacco lawsuits
That’s a guaranteed winner, ask anyone in business. Nicorette is approaching $1 billion in annual sales. The sad truth for hopeful quitters is that less than half a percent of Nicorette users are successfully quit a year later. And that’s not even the shitty part.
I later learned that Nicorette is only harmless if you use it temporarily to help get clean. Nobody does though. Most people follow the program initially but never take that final step. You tell yourself that it’s under control and at the “right moment” you will pull the trigger and quit for good. But the right moment never comes. Instead, some stressful life event gets in the way and you go one of two directions:
- Back to dip.
- Chew way more Nicorette than you ever thought possible.
For me, it was the second route. I followed the program down to 3 pieces a day and stayed there for a long time, but never got to zero. Inevitably life got tough for awhile and my usage slowly climbed from 3 to 10 pieces a day. Then (and I don’t even remember how or why) it rocketed to 20 a day and seemed like that wasn’t enough. I started buying bulk on eBay. My blood pressure had risen to alarming levels and no amount of exercise or healthy eats made a difference.
How the hell did I get here? I was supposed to be quit after three months. There was nothing in that fucking pamphlet about 20 pieces a day after ten years, with all the desperation of an addict.
I returned to the web and was surprised by the amount of unvarnished information now available – probably the result of internet forums and way more Nicorette users now that the product had been in circulation for a couple of decades. You can still find the pharma-sponsored studies touting the “safe & no pain” nonsense, but the overwhelming evidence from users is health problems and total addiction.
After browsing for a few days, it was clear that my story was no aberration – there were plenty of 20 a day users out there with high blood pressure. The kicker for me though was the number of users at 40. Forty fucking pieces a day!! Apparently that’s as much as you can chew during the waking hours. Given the uninhibited growth in my own consumption, I knew I was at a crossroads: quit now or join the 40 a day crowd.
Fortunately, KTC was easy to find. Nobody cared how I got here as long as I got ditched nicotine immediately. I joined a group and braced myself for the battle ahead.
I still suffered one terrible illusion though: that the road ahead was going to be easier for me than my quit brothers. After kicking the chew habit a long time ago, I figured I was starting on second base. Turns out the laws of addiction don’t work that way. Please trust me on this: Nicorette isn’t halfway to anything except a prolonged, expensive, deeper nicotine habit. The early days sucked miserably and I’m glad they’re behind me.
The rest of my story is similar to others you’ve read so I’ll skip to the present. Today is over a thousand days nicotine-free. I may not be home free, but I am free as long as I’m determined to stay that way. Blood pressure is normal too (it reverted to normal just weeks after I quit).
KTC is truly a special place. They take on all the hard cases and without any real funding, they deliver more consistent and durable results than all the expensive drugs and therapies combined. I owe a great deal to KTC. Misfits (my brothers of May 2015), the veterans that guided us through the early days and continue to do so, and those who reached out to me personally – I owe them all. Not to mention the founders of this awesome site.
Brotherhood and Accountability is plastered everywhere at KTC. That slogan won’t mean a lot to you in the early days – and you will question it frequently – but eventually you will realize those are the two most critical ingredients to long term success. It becomes painfully clear why all those NRTs at Walgreens are just a giant quit illusion.
Dump your illusions and join a group here. Get involved in something that has a proven ability to help you quit and stay quit.