The First Five Days – Part III
This will be the final post of the ‘First Five Days’. All remaining posts will deal with the events of the day.
All I can say is that nicotine patch has definitely helped with the physical withdrawal symptoms, but I am still suffering the immense cravings and associative habit addiction. Typical physical nicotine withdrawal symptoms are irritability, trouble sleeping, fatigue, headache, anxiety, mild depression, and mood swings. I can honestly say that using the 14 mg nicotine patch, I am only experiencing mild irritability, headache, and anxiety.
You might ask, ‘why are you experiencing any physical withdrawal symptoms at all if you are using the nicotine patch?’ That is a great question and here are a few possible reasons that I’ve found after researching the subject.
Not all of the nicotine in snuff tobacco is “free,” or quickly available to enter the user’s bloodstream. The amount of free nicotine is controlled in two ways: the cut and the pH of the tobacco. Finely cut tobacco (Copenhagen silver top) releases its nicotine faster than “long cut” brands (Skoal long cut).
Most snuff brands have a pH of less than 6, meaning the tobacco is acid. For nicotine to be absorbed into the bloodstream, the tobacco must have a pH of over 7, an alkaline reading. So what is the free nicotine content and pH level of my suicidal plant over the last 24 years?
Copenhagen contains 79% of the ‘quickly available’ free nicotine, with a pH of 8.6 (remember only a pH of 7 is needed for nicotine absorption). Compare this with Skoal Long Cut which contains only 22% free nicotine at a pH of 7.5.
Ok so where am I going with this.. Give me a minute and you will see. I am taking a 14 mg nicotine patch, which means over the course of 24 hours, my body is taking in 14 mg of nicotine. There are 3 levels of patch, 22 mg, 14, mg, and 7 mg. I deliberately started with the mid-level patch to jump start the nicotine cessation process. I am not recommending that anyone else do this. I decided this after looking back at the last 24 years of attempting to quit. The average cigarette contains between 1-2 mg of nicotine per cigarette. Now how much of that nicotine you ingest, depends on your style of smoking, i.e. smoke the whole cigarette, length of the drag, how deep you inhale, etc. So the packaging for the 14 mg patch suggests that you use this if you smoke 10 or less cigarettes per day.
I don’t smoke, so why the hell am I talking about this. If a pack of cigarettes contains between 20-40 mg of nicotine, let’s say the average smoker actually inhales 30 mg per day. How does this equate to my chosen agent of death, Copenhagen snuff? There is 7.5 mg of nicotine per gram of snuff. There are 34 grams of snuff per can of Copenhagen. That equals 255 mg of nicotine per can of Copenhagen. I personally never liked to take monstrous dips, but I would keep them in for long periods of time. I went through about .5 cans of Copenhagen per day, brining my average daily nicotine consumption to about 127 mg per day. Hmmm, now are we starting to see why snuff addiction is so difficult to overcome, and why it is different than cigarette smoking???
I know that was the long way to my answer about why I am still dealing with physical withdrawal symptoms, but I hope you learned something along the way. Thanks again for reading and please post your stories or updates, as it really does help others on the same road. If you want to post, please email me and I will get you access.
Matt – 11 days quit