How We Think
We think we can take it or leave it. We often feel superior to "weak-willed'' smokers who can't 'kick the habit.' We can quit anytime, right? When we try to quit, we soon find we can't go a day or even a few hours without a plug or chew.
Some of us find ourselves chained to the can or pouch. We've started noticing those pesky warning labels: "This is not a safe alternative to smoking." Warnings and statistics--just more intrusions into our lives; scare tactics from people who don't understand. Who are these people, anyway? How do they know? Do they dip?
What about all the people who quit smoking by picking up the chew? Certainly, they are bettering themselves. After all, smoking is bad. Everybody knows that. Using tobacco without burning it is better, right?
The smokeless image is different. It is our way of expressing our rugged individuality. We think it sets us apart from the crowd. And it does! We have spit cups, tobacco grains in our teeth, and breath that smells like the bottom of a bird cage.
We go to great lengths to hide our habit, because we don't like ourselves for our weakness. We also know it is viewed with disgust by many who consider it "gross."
Those occasional stories about people dying from mouth or throat cancer are just "flukes'' or bad luck. What are the odds of cancer happening to me? Pretty slim, right?
Those things happen to other people. The stories make good television and news fodder. Besides, if I did quit, I still might get hit by a bus next week--might as well not bother. But, I could quit if I wanted.
What about those stories of people having part of their tongues removed? That's pretty drastic. What are the chances of that happening to me? Come to think of it, what odds would make it worth my risk? 1 in 100? 1 in 20? 1 in 5? I've always been pretty lucky. Maybe the damage is already done. If so, there would be no reason to quit, would there?
We ponder these and many other facts, fears, and fantasies. Gradually, we become aware that many of our questions don't have definite answers. We can cop out forever or until we get sick.
No matter how much we rationalize, we always come full circle. Deep down inside, we feel shame at obeying a command from a can, or a prod from a pouch.
It is difficult to quit, isn't it? We tell ourselves we like the taste, that we can quit if we want. Nicotine addiction, ha! We have a habit. We like the flavor. We can't be addicted to nicotine. It isn't a real drug, is it? Then we wonder if maybe we're ignoring the facts. After a few unsuccessful attempts at quitting, we begin to realize that we are hooked.
Consider nicotine addiction and think of the lengths and expense to which we go to feed it. Social activities become difficult, a nuisance. We spend a lot of valuable time planning ways to stock our supply and keep it available. We go to great lengths to get our fix, like driving in bad weather to get tobacco when we wouldn't go out to the store for milk.
Consider freedom from nicotine. Quitting is a personal challenge. We begin to realize that if we quit, we'd probably be better off. We wonder, "what would life be like if we didn't have to accommodate this addiction (er, uh, habit)?" We could stop lying to ourselves. We could feel good about ourselves. We could accept the challenge and live a nicotine-free life.
What are the facts regarding smokeless tobacco use? The oral delivery system is efficient in providing the body with a direct supply of nicotine. Nicotine is a poisonous drug, both a stimulant and a depressant. Nicotine is highly addictive. Nicotine is powerful!
The oral use of tobacco provides perceived pleasure, gratification and reward. These are the short-term effects. Nicotine use bonds to many emotions and daily activities. Reportedly, it improves concentration, but often the nagging drive to maintain a nicotine level proves more a hindrance than a help.
What are the long term effects? What are the dangers to the smokeless tobacco user? The risks include mouth and throat cancer, chronic mouth irritation, tooth loss, gum disease and high blood pressure.
The support found in the fellowship of Nicotine Anonymous has helped many of us recover from nicotine addiction, one day at a time.
There Is Hope
Many have beaten this addiction! With the support of others, we can: