The First Five Days – Part I

January 5th, 2009 No comments

I know I was supposed to be blogging at least once a day since the site launched on January 1st, but as you can see I have not kept my end of the bargain. I am back on track now, so I’ll fill you in on my first five days trying to overcome my addiction to snuff.

Not that I planned it this way, but my last dip of Copenhagen happened from about 11:10 PM to 11:50 PM on New Year’s Eve. I had exhibited great will power on the drinking that night, because I know it makes it even harder to resist the temptation to feed the nicotine addiction. I was up until around 4:00 am on January 1, a whole 4 hours without snuff. I then went to bed and woke up around 1:00 PM that afternoon. 13 hours with no snuff or nicotine, so by then I was feeling the urge pretty strong. Thank God you don’t get cravings in your sleep… or do you?

 As I had planned prior to my quit date, I took a shower and headed over to the pharmacy to get the 14 mg nicotine transdermal patch. I bought a 2 weeks supply, 14 patches in all. This is not my first run in with the patch; I have probably tried it over 10 times throughout my snuff addiction. None the less, I chose it because it does help with the physical withdrawal symptoms and unlike the gum, doesn’t get me in another oral habit or association. Just to clarify, when I have used the gum in the past, I found myself using it the EXACT same way I did snuff, after meals, driving, working, etc. For me, and most other snuff addicts, the mental and physical associations are just as, and if not more difficult to kick, than the nicotine dependence.

There I am now, looking at myself in the mirror to find that perfect spot for my little nicotine friend. The arm, shoulder, back, stomach… I decided to place it on my side, above the ribcage. It is on, and now there is no turning back, well at least until you rip the patch off because you can fight the craving for snuff. That won’t be me though.. right? Only time will tell. 

The first day and night without snuff and with my little nicotine friend, was not too bad surprisingly. Just as I have experienced in the past, and like the side effects label says, I did experience some dreams that were more vivid than normal. From other people I talked to, it doesn’t seem to be that common of a side effect, but for me it happens almost every time I use the patch. Along with the patch, I am also drinking a ton of water during the day with hot green tea at night. Although it is mostly antidotal evidence, I have read several places that green tea can help with nicotine withdrawal, I would imagine because it has a tendency to relax you. Who knows, but I know that it does help me a little bit at night. It is also good for controlling weight gain, as it is a natural appetite suppressant.

Although the first day may have sounded like it was no sweat, I am here to tell you that from a mental aspect it was hell. As I have mentioned before, the patch is great for the physical withdrawal symptoms, but does just about nothing for the mental side of the equation. Here is the best way that I can explain my thought process. Please do not judge, as I know what you are about to read is going to sound insane. But for those of you that share my addiction, you will know that I speak the truth.

Imagine that you are met a person 24 years ago. After a few years you decided that they were your soul mate and you decided to get married. For the next 20 years you spend just about every waking minute of every day with that person, having the time of your life. Everything you do, no matter how common it is, triggers a happy feeling inside your heart, soul, and mind. Even if you are not with the person, the thought of that person makes you happy. In my mind, that is the trigger that is sent to my brain when I think about dipping snuff. It triggers a pleasurable response each and every time I put that pinch in my lip.

Now, I want you to imagine that you are forced to go through the rest of your life without your soul mate of 24 years. To make matters even worse, you will be forced to continue to do all of the things and visit all of the places that the two of you shared together. Initially, the happy triggers from the sights and sounds flood your brain with that old familiar warmth, but then you realize that you will be alone forever. That is what goes through my mind now that I am fighting my addiction to snuff. All the triggers from the 24 years are still there; after meals, driving, yard work, reading, computer work, football, coffee in the morning, talking on the phone, and the list goes on and on and on. The hardest part of overcoming the addiction, is realizing that you can still enjoy all of those things without snuff or nicotine.

The one thing that I have learned over the years of trying to quit is that for me personally, I cannot think about being snuff and nicotine free for the ‘rest of my life’. At this point in time, that is just too big a chunk of time to handle. I am really following the one day at a time philosophy.

Matt

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Launch

December 31st, 2008 2 comments

My name is Matt and I started this website and blog because I am addicted to nicotine and snuff tobacco.

I started dipping snuff when I was around 12 years old, starting with the ‘easy’ stuff, ya know Hawken, Kodiak, Skoal Bandits… etc. My first year of high school, I was introduced to Copenhagen snuff by a long time friend and have been addicted to that brand ever since. It sickens and shames me to admit it, but that was 24 years ago.

Yeah, Copenhagen has been there through high school, the Marine Corps, College, numerous jobs, numerous relationships, good times, bad times, and everything in between. I can honestly say that other than breathing, eating, and sleeping I have had no other habit or ritual that has been that consistent in my life… not working out, going to church, or watching football.

From age 12 to 18 I was a closet addict, not out of choice really, but necessity because it’s not legal in school and my parents would have killed me. Only my other guy friends and my brother knew that I dipped snuff. The best chance that I had to quit using and overcome the addiction at an early age, was after Marine Corps boot camp at age 19. Thirteen weeks with no Copenhagen and nicotine, but more importantly the associative habits were gone. All the experts agree, that it is the mental and associative aspect of snuff tobacco addiction that is the hardest to overcome. I had my chance, and I blew it three days after leaving Parris Island.

The age of 22 was another important chapter in my addiction to snuff tobacco and nicotine. While at college, in order to fill my increasing need for Copenhagen more throughout the day, I stopped spitting the juice out to be able to do it in class without grossing everyone out with a spit cup. At first it was hard to handle, then after a few years it became second nature. Without the need to spit, I could dip where ever and whenever I wanted, and more honestly, needed.

Through my late 20′s about the only times you would not catch me with a dip of Copenhagen in my mouth, was sleeping, church, or around my girlfriend. Yes, that means that I dipped at work, social functions, bars, restaurants, games, driving, working out, hiking, mountain biking, and of course always after eating. Not having the need to spit and taking small dips, enabled me to be in nicotine heaven for about 80% of every day.

The real turning points for me personally, came in my early 30′s as I began to date the woman who would eventually become my wife, and as I started to be more successful in my career. We’ll start with the later point first. Even though most of my work meetings would only last for 30-45 minutes, I could not and would not, resist the urge to have that dip of Copenhagen in my mouth. Now keep in mind, I didn’t take huge dips and spit in a cup, but I know if I am honest, I know that most of the customers knew that I had something in my mouth and since it never changed places it was either some form of tobacco or a genetic defect. The addiction was so bad at this point, that I stopped caring about my personal or professional appearance to others.

Which brings me to the other turning point… starting to date my future wife. When she and I first started dating at 31, I hid my Copenhagen and nicotine addiction for about the first year and a half.  I would do the more socially acceptable habit when we were together, smoke. While it was not my preference, it got me my fix and kept the demons at bay. It also hid any addiction factors, because most of the time we would have a drink or two, so I could use the ever popular, “I’m a social smoker, I only smoke when I drink”. Although she didn’t really like the smoking, as she is not a tobacco user, she just thought it was one of those things I would stop if things progressed and she asked me to.

As she and I started to spend more time together, it became increasingly difficult to hide my tobacco and nicotine addiction. After all, something I didn’t mention is that I love to run, work out, and eat healthy. Having run several marathons, I know how important not smoking is and how it affects your performance. We would go to the gym together and ride bikes together almost every time we were together, so I was forced to tell her about my snuff tobacco use and my nicotine addiction. Needless to say, she was not thrilled to learn about it, but was confident that I would have no problem kicking the habit, because she didn’t understand the severity. She said the same thing others did that knew me and my addiction, “how can you be so disciplined to eat right and work out, but not enough to quit the snuff?” The bottom line is that I am so addicted that I pretty much have Copenhagen in mouth at all times, even around my wife, barring intimate times of course. The addiction is so strong that I just expect her and everyone else around me to deal with my addiction. It is not right.

Well, that pretty much brings us to our current point in time. Thanking God, I am not going to tell you that I have developed mouth cancer and am dying, but I know that if I keep letting my addiction win, it will only be a matter of time before I am writing those words. So I decided to quit Copenhagen snuff and all forms of tobacco starting on January 1, 2009. I have tried to quit dozens of times and have used nicotine gum and patches, cold turkey, Welbutrin, and Mint Snuff. Obviously none of them have worked to this point, but I can’t fault the products or methods, I fault myself for not being truly ready. 

I am ready now and that is why I created this blog. To share my journey and story, and maybe help a few other people along the way. I find that writing about my addiction helps me, and may give me that extra push I need to get over the top this time. I’m not promising a lifetime of being tobacco and nicotine free at this point, I’m just going to commit to trying to be each and every day for the rest of my life. I will be using the assistance of nicotine patches for the first month to ease the physical withdrawal symptoms. Aside from that, I will be eating healthy, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and of course sharing my thoughts and feelings every day.

I hope this helps or at least gives you some insight to an addiction that is often brushed aside as just a lack of will power.

God Bless,

Matt

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