Smokeless Tobacco Quitting Tips
Addicted to snuff, snus or chewing tobacco?
Ready to quit and reclaim your mouth, mind and life?
Today oral tobacco lesions (leukoplakia) are being detected in about 1.5% of students, projected at 300,000 nationally, with substantially greater incidence among snuff than chewing tobacco users. But in only 26 per 100,000 cases each year do the white spots actually develop into oral cancer. That means that among the 5 million U.S. smokeless tobacco users, at most there are 1,300 oral cancer nightmares each year, nightmares which kill about half within five years.
Looking at such statistics, the rationalizing snuff or chewing tobacco user probably won't put death from oral cancer at the top of their list of concerns. Likewise, a 2.23 greater risk of sudden heart attack (four times greater for chewers who also smoke) may not be sufficient to motivate quitting without first experiencing stabbing type chest pains. Even then, getting serious about quitting often requires a doctor's "quit or drop-dead" ultimatum. But what oral nicotine users would be wise to note are growing concerns that long-term nicotine use may actually be eating away and destroying their brain.
An increasing number of experiments show that long-term nicotine use reduces the number of brain neurons, increases the signs of cell death in brain tissue and impairs working memory. A September 2006 study used MRIs to examine the brains of smokers. It found significantly less brain grey matter volume and density, with loss of grey matter proportional to the number of years smoked.
According to the study's author, Dr. Jürgen Gallinat, "animal data indicate that nicotine application has brain-damaging properties. Therefore, the results of our study can be explained by effects of nicotine. This may imply that it is irrelevant if nicotine is administrated by cigarettes, chewing gum, or oral tobacco products."
Snuff and chewing tobacco deliver high levels of nicotine quickly. Depending on the user's level of tolerance, blood nicotine concentrations throughout the day can be as high as or higher than those seen in smokers.
Imagine nicotine brain memory destruction being so great that you begin noticing sentences you've written are missing words, that remembering names seems nearly impossible, when you can't remember why you walked into a room or when you forget you turned on a stove burner.
Nicotine is a super toxin. Drop for drop it is deadlier than diamondback rattlesnake venom, more lethal than strychnine and three times deadlier than arsenic. A natural insecticide, it has no business inside the human mouth, bloodstream or brain. Just a couple of drops on the tongue of a 160 pound person - 40 - 60mg - and they're dead. But as 90% of smokeless tobacco users have already discovered, quitting is not easy as nicotine is extremely addictive.
Nicotine induces alert dopamine/adrenaline intoxication as opposed to a sense of drunkenness. Still, chemical dependency upon nicotine is every bit as real, deep and permanent as alcoholism, crystal meth, or heroin addiction. Once hooked the only remaining question becomes, on which side of the bars will you spend the balance of life and what quality will that life have?
As with other drugs of addiction, an external chemical has taken the smokeless tobacco user's brain dopamine reward pathways hostage, quickly burying almost all memory of what life without nicotine was like. You begin to falsely believe that nicotine defines who you are. Quitting fears begin cutting both ways. You begin to fear successs as much or more than failure as your mind simply cannot imagine that life without nicotine is worth living.
The real "you" now lies buried deep beneath a pile of the most prominent memories the mind is capable of recording, dopamine "aaahhh" memories tied to the the use of nicotine. Dependency researchers call the brain's dopamine pathways our "pay attention" circuitry. These pathways are designed to ensure that species survival activities such as accomplishment, eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, nurturing, companionship and reproduction, get noticed, are remembered and remain central to our lives. But by chance, once inside the brain, nicotine fit the receptor locks responsible for activiting brain dopamine pathways.
Dependency researchers tell us that nicotine may be the most perfectly designed drug of addiction. It not only causes the release of dopamine but shuts off flow of the chemical assigned to clean-up dopamine once released (MAO B, also known as the killjoy enzyme). This allows adjoining brain cells to remain under the influence of dopamine longer.
Like having every water facet in the house turned on, far more dopamine is flowing far longer than normal inside the obedient nicotine addict's brain. But the brain fights back. One tactic used in specific brain regions is called upregulation, which actually leaves the brain desensitized to natural dopamine flow. Here the brain grows millions of extra receptors for nicotine in a number of different brain regions, leaving the density of receptors 100% to 300% greater than found in non-users.
This causes most nicotine addicts to gradually need to use increasing amounts of nicotine in order for new stolen dopamine "aaahhh" wanting satisfaction memories to match their existing pile of stored stolen salient memories. A cycle of "tolerance" is born as each time the nicotine user responds by increasing nicotine intake the brain responds by growing or activating additional receptors, causing further de-sensitization.
Nicotine dependency recovery is a temporary journey of readjustment where we allow our brain the time needed to physically down-regulate the number of receptors and restore natural sensitivities. It's where we develop the patience needed to allow our subconscious mind time to extinguish subconsciously conditioned nicotine feeding cues. On a conscious thinking level it's allowing the time and honesty needed to move beyond years of nicotine use rationalizations that attempted to justify that next mandatory feeding.
Is your brain wired for nicotine? Do you remember the calm and quiet that resided inside their mind before nicotine took control? Probably not. Are you ready to return home to the "real" you? The below quitting tips have the potential to make your temporary journey of recovery far less challenging than you might imagine. We also invite you to visit www.whyquit.com for additional motivational resources, to download our free 149 page quitting book, to watch free video quitting lessons, to pose your quitting questions to Joel or to celebrate at Turkeyville, Facebook's most popular quitting site.
Nicotine Dependency Recovery Tips
- Law of Addiction - The law of addiction states, "administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance at the old level of use or greater." Yes, just one powerful dip or chew and you'll be faced with again enduring up to 72 hours of nicotine detox. We're not that strong. Adherence to a simple restatement of the law of addiction guarantees success to all. No nicotine just one day at a time ..."Never Take Another Dip, Chew or Puff."
- Be Honest With Yourself - Nicotine dependency is every bit as real and permanent as alcoholism . Don't play games with yourself. Treating a true addiction as though it were some nasty little habit is a recipe for relapse. There is no such thing as just once. It truly is an all or nothing proposition.
- Enhancing Motivation - Are you having trouble getting started? Is your motivation in need of a boost? Visit WhyQuit.com and meet Sean or Gruen, or watch more than 30 short determination fueling movie clips . If you don't have Internet access visit your local library.
- Education is Power - Visit WhyQuit.com (the source of these tips) read Joel's Library one time from cover to cover, download his free book, watch 200+ video quitting lessons, or get online support.
- Measuring Victory - Forget about quitting "forever." Like attempting the seemingly impossible task of eating an entire elephant, it's the biggest psychological bite imaginable. Instead, work hard at adopting a more manageable "one day at a time" quitting philosophy for measuring victory. If you insist on seeing success only in terms of quitting forever then on which day will you celebrate?
- Recovery Phases - When quitting, the amount of nicotine remaining in your bloodstream will be cut by half every two hours. Within 72 hours all nicotine and 90% of the chemicals it breaks down into will have passed from your body. Physical withdrawal peaks by day three and is substantially complete within 10 days to two weeks. Subconscious trigger reconditioning normally peaks during the first week and all but your remote, infrequent or seasonal triggers should be reconditioned within a month. Conscious thoughts of wanting will gradually grow fewer, shorter in duration and generally less intense. Within a few months they'll become the exception not the rule, as you'll gradually start to develop an expectation of going your entire day without wanting to suck or chew nicotine into your bloodstream.
- Withdrawal Symptoms - Within reason it's fairly safe to blame most of what you'll feel during the first three days on quitting. But after that you need to listen to your body and if concerned give your doctor a call. Don't blame your symptoms on where you're going but on where you've been. See each symptom as a true sign of healing it reflects.
- Possible Hidden Conditions - Smokeless tobacco contains more than 4,200 chemicals including 28 carcinogens. One or more of these 4,200 chemicals may have been masking an underlying hidden health problem. Snuff or chew chemicals may also have been interacting with medications you were taking and an adjustment may be necessary. Stay alert and if at all concerned immediately contact your physician or pharmacist.
- Emotional Phases - Chemical dependency upon oral nicotine is one of the most intense, repetitive and dependable relationships you've likely ever known. It has infected almost every aspect of your life. Be prepared to experience a normal sense of emotional loss when quitting. Expect to travel through and experience six different emotional phases: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, (5) acceptance, and (6) complacency.
- Quitting Cold Turkey - contrary to pharmaceutical industry marketing hype almost all successful long-term nicotine addicts quit cold turkey (80 to 90%). Although few surveys exist the rate is believed even higher for snuff and chew users. Education, new behavioral skills (such as adopting a one day at a time quitting philosophy) and ongoing support can dramatically increase your odds of success.
- NRT - Smokeless tobacco users need to know that the pharmaceutical industry has not been entirely candid regarding the odds of success while using nicotine replacement products (NRT) such as the patch, gum and lozenge. A March 2003 study (Hughes) combined and averaged the seven over-the-counter nicotine patch and gum studies. It found that only 7% of study participants were still not smoking at six months. It gets worse. The odds of success appear to actually decline during a second or subsequent NRT quitting attempt. A 1993 study (Tonnesen) found that 0% of second-time patch users succeeded in quitting for 6 months and a 1995 study (Gourlay) reported a 1.6% six-month quitting rate.
- Zyban - Zyban (bupropion) performs at rates similar to NRT. It is a dopamine uptake inhibitor resulting in elevated dopamine levels.
- Chantix - 2006 studies boast a 1 in 5 one-year quit smoking rate but were inflated by 16 one-on-one counseling sessions, telephone support and the exclusion of hard to treat smokers. Real-world use rates will be substantially lower . It is marketed in Europe as Champix and causes the release of 35 to 60% of the dopamine that nicotine would have released if sitting on the same receptors.
- Hypnosis - A 1998 Cochrane Review of nine different hypnosis quit smoking studies concluded that "we have not shown that hypnotherapy has a greater effect on six month quit rates than other interventions or no treatment."
- Acupuncture - A 2002 Cochrane Review of 22 different acupuncture studies concluded that, "there is no clear evidence that acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy or electro-stimulation are effective for smoking cessation." Again, there have been few studies on cessation involving oral nicotine delivery.
- Don't Get Intimidated - Don't let the above quitting method study findings intimidate you. Instead use them to gauge just how serious the challenge before you actually is. Quitting is entirely do-able, as evidenced by the fact that here in the U.S. we have more recovered nicotine addicts than active nicotine addicts. Although quitting isn't easy it is simple. There is just one rule that if followed provides a 100% guarantee of success ... no nicotine today, Never Take Another Dip, Chew or Puff!
- Record Your Motivations - Once in the heat of battle, it is normal for your mind to quickly forget many of the reasons that motivated you to begin your journey home. Write yourself a loving reminder letter, carry it with you, and read it often. Make it your first line of defense - a motivational tool that you can pull out during moments of challenge. As with achievement in almost all human endeavors, the wind beneath your recovery wings will not be strength or willpower but robust dreams and desires. Keep your dreams vibrant and on center-stage and no circumstance will deprive you of glory.
- Do Not Skip Meals - Each dip or chew of nicotine was our spoon, releasing stored fats into our bloodstream. It allowed us to skip meals without experiencing wild blood-sugar swing symptoms such as an inability to concentrate or hunger related anxieties. Learn to again properly fuel your body by spreading out your normal daily calorie intake more evenly. Try not to skip meals.
- Three Days of Natural Juices - Unless diabetic, drink plenty of acidic fruit juice the first three days. Cranberry is excellent and a bottle will cost about the same as a pack of cigarettes. The acidic juices will not only aid in more quickly removing the alkaloid nicotine but will help stabilize blood sugars. Take care beyond three days as juices tend to be rather fattening.
- Weight Gain - You'd need to gain at least 75 extra pounds in order to equal the health risks associated with smoking one pack-a-day. Eat vegetables and fruits instead of candies, chips and pastries to help avoid weight gain. Engage in some form of moderate daily exercise if at all concerned about weight gain.
- Stress Related Anxieties - Recognize that contrary to popular thinking, oral nicotine did not relieve stress but only its own absence. Nicotine is an alkaloid. Stress is an acid-producing event capable of quickly neutralizing the body's nicotine reserves. As nicotine addicts we added early withdrawal to every stressful event. You will soon discover an amazing sense of calm during crisis. There are a host of anxiety management techniques you can employ during this temporary journey of re-adjustment called "quitting," including the practice of slow deep breathing while focusing your mind on your favorite object, place or person to the exclusion of other thoughts.
- Quitting for Others - You cannot quit for others. It must be your gift to you. Quitting for a child, spouse, parent or friend creates a natural sense of deprivation that is likely to ultimately result in relapse. If quitting for another person, how will an addict's junkie-mind respond the first time that person disappoints us?
- Attitude - Almost all quitters have serious doubts starting out and it is normal to fear success as much as failure. You've actually forgotten what it is like being you. Powerful "pay attention" dopamine "aaahhh" memories have likely buried all memory of the calm and serenity of navigating life without nicotine. Greet each challenge with a can-do attitude. Try to take pride in each hour of freedom and each challenge overcome. Celebrate the full and complete victory each reflects. Yes you can!
- Patience - Years of being able to quickly satisfy our urges for more nicotine conditioned us to be extremely impatient, at least when it comes to our addiction. Realize the importance of patience to successful recovery. Baby steps, just one hour, challenge and day at a time and then celebrate. You'll never be asked to endure more than the next few minutes. They are all that matter and each is entirely do-able.
- Get Rid of All Nicotine - Keeping any kind of nicotine handy when quitting makes as much sense as someone on suicide watch keeping a loaded gun handy just to prove they can. Fully commit to going the distance and seeing what it's like to awaken to new expectations of a nicotine free mouth, mind and life. Allow yourself extra time to navigate challenges by building in delay. Flush all tobacco and replacement nicotine.
- Caffeine/Nicotine Interaction - Amazingly, nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. Studies have found that your blood-caffeine level will rise to 203% of your normal baseline if no intake reduction is made when quitting. Although not a problem for most light to moderate caffeine users, consider a caffeine intake reduction if troubled by anxieties or if experiencing difficulty relaxing or sleeping.
- Subconscious Nicotine Triggers - You have conditioned your subconscious mind to expect nicotine when encountering certain locations, times, events, people or emotions. Be prepared for each to trigger a brief crave episode. Encountering a trigger cannot trigger relapse unless you take a puff. But take heart. Most triggers are reconditioned and extinguished by a single encounter during which the subconscious mind fails to receive the expected result - nicotine.
- Crave Episodes Less Than 3 Minutes - In contrast to conscious thought fixation (the "nice juicy steak" type thinking that can last as long as you have the ability to maintain your focus and concentration), it is rare when any subconsciously triggered crave episode lasts longer than three minutes. If it should happen it could indicate that you encountered two triggers in close proximity to each other, and have reclaimed two aspects of life.
- Time Distortion Symptom - A recent study found that nicotine cessation causes serious time distortion. Although crave episodes are generally less than three minutes, recovery time distortion can make minutes can feel like hours. Keep a clock or watch handy to maintain honest perspective on time.
- Crave Episode Frequency - Unless hiding in a closet you'll likely experience the greatest number of triggers around day three. Although no crave episode frequency studies are reported for oral tobacco users, the average nicotine smoker reports a peak of six crave episodes on day 3. That's a total of 18 minutes of challenge on their most challenging day. But what if you're not average? What if you established and must encounter twice as many nicotine-feeding cues as the average quitter? That's 36 minutes of significant challenge. Can you handle 36 minutes of serious anxiety in order to reclaim your mouth, mind and life? Absolutely! We all can. Be prepared for a small spike in crave episodes on day seven as you celebrate your first full week of freedom from nicotine. Yes, for most of us nicotine use was part of every celebration. Also stay alert for subtle differences between crave triggers. For example, the Sunday newspaper is much thicker and may have required more nicotine to read.
- Understanding the Big Crave - In the above discussed smoker study, the average quitter was experiencing just 1.4 crave episodes per day by day ten. Shortly thereafter it isn't unusual to start experiencing entire days without encountering a single un-reconditioned subconscious crave trigger. If a later crave episode ever feels far more intense it's likely that it has been some time since your last significant challenge and you've dropped your guard and defenses a bit. It can almost feel as though you've been sucker punched. If this should occur, stop and reflect on how long it has been since your last significant challenge. If significant, see your sucker punch as the wonderful sign of healing it reflects.
- Crave Coping Techniques - One coping method is to practice slow deep breathing when experiencing a crave episode. Try briefly clearing your mind of all needless chatter by focusing on your favorite person, place or thing. Another popular three minute crave coping exercise is to say your ABCs while associating each letter with your favorite food, person or place. For example, the letter "A" is for grandma's hot apple pie, "B" is for warm buttered biscuits. I think you'll find that you'll never make it to the challenging letter Q.
- Embracing Craves - Another coping technique is to mentally reach out and embrace your crave. A crave cannot cut you, burn you, kill you or make you bleed. Try being brave just once. In your mind, wrap your arms around the crave's anxiety energy and then sense as it slowly fizzles and dies while in your embrace. Yes, another trigger bites the dust. You've reclaimed yet another aspect of life, a life once submerged in nicotine. You have taught your subconscious mind that this activity it is entirely do-able without nicotine.
- Confront Your Crave Triggers - Recognize the fact that everything you did as a smokeless user you will learn to again comfortably do as an ex-user. Meet, greet and defeat your triggers. Don't hide from them. You need not give up anything when quitting except nicotine. Everything you did as a nicotine user you'll soon discover can be done as well or better as a non-user. With each trigger extinguished you receive a prize, another piece of a puzzle that once complete will feature you comfortably engaging all aspects of life without nicotine.
- Alcohol Use - Be extremely careful with early alcohol use during the first couple of weeks. We are told that alcohol use is associated with half of all nicotine relapses. Using an inhibition diminishing substance and then intentionally surrounding yourself with smokeless nicotine users (or nicotine smokers) while still engaged in early withdrawal is likely a recipe for relapse. Get your quitting feet under you first. If you are an alcohol user, once ready to challenge your drinking triggers consider breaking the challenge down into smaller more manageable trigger segments. Consider drinking at home first without nicotine around, or going out but refraining from drinking, or spacing your drinks further apart, or drinking water or juice between drinks. Have an escape plan and a backup, and be fully prepared to use them both.
- Support Expectations - Don't expect family or friends who have never been chemically dependent themselves to have any appreciation of your challenges or the time required to achieve substantial comfort. It simply isn't fair to them or you. Find a recovered nicotine addict and ask them if they'd mind being your mentor for the next 90 days. You can also read or participate in online support groups..
- No Legitimate Excuse for Relapse - Recognize that using nicotine cannot solve any crisis. All it will do is add active drug addiction to your list of concerns. Fully accept the fact that there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for relapse, including an auto accident, financial crisis, the end of a relationship, job loss, a terrorist attack, a hurricane, the birth of a baby, or the eventual inevitable death of those we love most. Picture yourself not using nicotine through each and every step needed to overcome the most difficult challenge your mind can possibly imagine.
- Conscious Thought Fixation - Unlike a less than three-minute subconscious crave episode, we can consciously fixate on any thought of wanting to use nicotine for as long as we're able to maintain our concentration. Don't try to run or hide from thoughts of wanting but instead place the thought under honest light. Flavor? If your use is about flavor then why can't you simply and easily substitute a flavor that isn't addictive? Just "one" pinch, pouch, dip or chew? For us nicotine addicts, one is too many and a thousand never enough. Treat nicotine dependency recovery as if it were no different than alcoholism. See a bright line in the sand. Don't debate with yourself about wanting "a" nicotine fix. Instead, ask yourself how you'd feel about having "all" of them back, about returning to your old level of nicotine consumption or greater.
- Reward Yourself - Consider putting aside the money that you would have spent buying nicotine and after a week or month treat yourself to something you really want. Save for a year and go on a vacation.
- Fully Commit To Going the Distance - Don't be afraid to tell people around you that you have arrested your dependency and are back in charge. Otherwise any wild emotional swings during early recovery may leave them thinking you are using some form of drugs instead of coming off of one. Their understanding and support could be beneficial. Fully commit to recovery while taking pride in each and every hour and day of freedom from nicotine, and each challenge overcome. Gradually shed false yet natural fears that nicotine defined your very being, that you'd be leaving a major part of you behind, and that life without nicotine just wouldn't be nearly as good. Even the love in your heart, you get to bring it with you!
- Avoid All Crutches - A crutch is any form of quitting reliance that you lean upon so heavily in supporting your quit that if quickly removed would likely result in relapse. Do not lean heavily upon a quitting buddy who quits at the same time as you. If not schooled in nicotine dependency recovery their odds of successfully quitting for one year are relatively small. Instead ask an ex-smokeless tobacco user or ex-smoker or never-smoker for support, or visit a free online support forum such as WhyQuit.com's Freedom.
- The Smoking Dream - Be prepared for an extremely vivid nicotine use dream as tobacco tars released by healing tissues come in contact with vastly enhanced senses of smell and taste. See it as the wonderful sign of healing it reflects and nothing more. It has no profound meaning beyond healing.
- See Marketing as Bait - Your quitting means thousands of dollars in lost profits to the nicotine industry. They do not want to lose you. See store tobacco advertising and the hundreds of neatly aligned cans, pouches and packs for what they truly reflect - bait. Inside the pretty colored cans and among the hundreds of flavor additives is hidden what many dependency experts now consider earth's most captivating chemical. Don't be afraid to visit the store where you purchased your snuff, snus or chewing tobacco. You need to meet, greet and defeat that trigger too!
- Newest Marketing Ploy - The latest smokeless marketing ploy will be an ongoing attempt to convince you that using Kodiak, Grizzly, Skoal, Wolf, Longhorn, Red Seal, Copenhagen, Rooster, Lucky Strike, Bacco, Onxy, Cougar, Gold River, Hawken, Beech-Nut, Chattanooga, Redwood, Silver Creek, Red Man, Granger, J.D.'s Blend, Lancaster, and Levi Garrett is much safer than smoking. While true, it is also true that using any brand of smokeless toboacco, or any form of pharmaceutical grade nicotine, is light years away from being safe. Mailings, coupons, new flavor additives, losing your dollars means losing thousands in profits and they want you back. But there's an old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!"
- Study Nicotine Addicts Closely - They are not dipping, chewing or smoking to tease you. They do so because they must, in order to replenish a constantly falling blood-serum nicotine level that declines by half every two hours. Most nicotine is used while on autopilot. What cue triggered the public feeding you're now witnessing? Watch acid-producing events such as stress or alcohol quickly neutralize their body's nicotine reserves. Witness their endless mandatory cycle of replenishment.
- Thinking vs. Wanting - There is a major distinction between thinking about the subject of quitting and wanting to use nicotine. After years of chronic nicotine use you should expect to notice others using nicotine but it doesn't necessarily mean that you want to. As for thoughts of wanting, with each passing day they'll gradually grow shorter in duration, generally less intense and a bit further apart.
- Non-User or Ex-User - What should you call yourself? Although it's normal to want to see yourself as a non-user (and/or non-smoker) there is a major distinction between a never-user and an ex-user. Only the ex-user can grow complacent, use nicotine and relapse.
- Complacency - Don't allow complacency to destroy your healing and glory. The ingredients for relapse include a failing memory of why we quit and of the early challenges, rewriting the law of addiction to exempt or exclude ourselves, and an excuse such as stress, celebration, illness, finances, weather, terrorism, war, death, or even a cigar at the birth of a baby.
- Relapse - Relapse - Remember that there are only two good reasons to use snuff, snus or chewing tobacco once you quit. You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption (or more) and continue to gradually damage your mouth, body and mind, or you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and you want to make it last forever.
- So long as neither of the above two options appeal to you there is just one guiding principle that will 100% guarantee your continuing freedom ... no nicotine just one day at a time, Never Take Another Dip, Chew or Puff!
|Knowledge is a Quitting Method!|