On March 10th, 2019 at approximately 11:58 pm I spit out my last dip. By the time I rinsed my mouth out it was March 11th, 2019 at 12:00 am. So, I say that I quit dipping tobacco on 3-11-2019 at 12:00 am.
I started dipping around the age of 12 or 13. By the age of 14, I was playing high school baseball and it was something that went hand in hand at a small rural school in South Mississippi. Then, before I knew it, dipping was my identity. I prided myself on a big fat dip when I had work to do. Whether that work entailed physical work around the house or mental work in my studies, I performed better with a dip. Made me think better. Made me tougher. Made me an idiot. Yep, after approximately 14-15 years of dipping and only being 29 years old, I got got! Got fooled! Got sucked right into that ole “You don’t want to try this stuff; it is a nasty habit!” I had to see for myself, as most of us do when we’re reminiscing on old battle stories with people.
Through my teenage years and into my early twenties I could care less if people thought it looked weird and nasty when I had a dip in my mouth. However, upon starting college and becoming a bit more aware of myself and how the world operates, I found myself closet dipping at times.
I knew it really became a problem when I was in a relationship with a girl for about 2.5 years and she never knew I dipped. Granted, we lived apart for the majority of our relationship, but she still never expected it. It was so bad that I would carry my toothbrush and toothpaste in my car just to pull off on the side of the road just before pulling into her driveway in order to spit my dip out and brush my teeth. What kind of trance must someone be in to do that repeatedly for years!?!? Hence why I said this stuff made me and idiot.
In my mid 20’s I knew I was in bad place with nicotine. I remembered all the times I had tried to quit before only to make it one or two days. I also knew that I was in the thicket of a graduate program (physical therapy program) that lasts 3 years that was so mentally exhausting it would turn you inside out on the daily in order to expose your vices and weaknesses. I knew there was no way I could focus during late night study sessions for classes like neuroscience, exercise physiology, and anatomy and physiology without dipping.
Quite frankly, I had become extremely aware that I was planning my entire day around when I would get a dip. Hour drive to school – dip. One-hour break between lecture and lab – dip. Hour drive back home – dip. Finished eating – dip. Done exercising – dip. Begin studying – dip. Need to study harder – add to dip. This lifestyle commonly led to me dipping up to 2 cans a day, but usually a solid 1.5 cans a day. Copenhagen Straight. 5 dollars a can. Title beside my photo – ADDICT. I knew being a future physical therapist one day was NOT going to allow me to feed my addiction like I had been for over a decade. Not to get off on a different path, but my career before going back to school was a Deputy Sheriff. That job was total freedom to dip when, where, and how much I wanted. A career of physical therapy is different when your face is 6 inches away from someone else’s because you’re trying to perform a thoracic spine manipulation. Yeah, not going to win PT of the month award with a fatty in while doing that. Furthermore, I have always thrived in fitness and consistently try to live a healthy life. I’m one of those guys that likes to simplify my diet to whole foods found in nature and drinking nothing but good ole H2O. I’m proud of myself for this lifestyle too. But what a total idiot I looked like giving out nutrition/exercise/lifestyle change advice with a good ole cat turd in the front of my bottom jaw centered to the left a little. I knew nicotine was a stimulant. I knew it caused vasculature to constrict. I knew it could cause high blood pressure. Didn’t matter. I wasn’t getting rid of my dip. It was such a part of me that I just assumed not even try to rip it off of me in fear of what it may do to me without having it.
Now, this is where the story just kind of abruptly comes to an end. My purpose in writing the above material was to give my insight into how attached I was to my dip. As cliché as it sounds, it really was a part of my identity. It was my nerve medicine. It was my “Ahhhh I have some alone time now and can do what I really want to do.” However, I knew that my competitive self just needed to find the missing puzzle piece to quit. So, after dipping the skin off in my mouth one night before a test, I stumbled across the “Kill The Can” website. I quickly saw that it was built around accountability and my innate competitiveness kicked in thinking that nobody was going to outdo me on quitting nicotine. I created my account, told myself that this really was the last time, added in some additional pep-talk with ominous music playing in my head to add to the seriousness of this, spit the dip out just before midnight, went downstairs and rinsed my mouth out in the sink, and posted my promise daily. And here I am, 365 days quit on Monday, March 9th, 2020. One day after my birthday – March 8th. What a present! If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I wanted to wait until almost one year into my quit before sharing my Hall of Fame (HOF) speech. I wanted a good bit of time to reflect on the years of believing that I HAD TO HAVE a chemical to function. So, if you are contemplating quitting nicotine, it can be done in an instant. As you clearly have just read. I highly encourage the attempt to quit be paired with accountability, specifically other nicotine quitters. I have said it before on the site and I’ll say it again here, there is something I find inexplicable about showing up to start every day with a promise to strangers that you will stay the course on your quit. It strengthens not only your quit, but the quit of others as well. If you are someone who takes your word serious, I believe this is the formula to stay quit. Godspeed.