Archive for the ‘Mission: Impossible – Quitting Nicotine’ Category

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Mission: Impossible – Quitting Nicotine (Day 5)

August 22, 2010

Okay, last night was a total bitch… just as I thought it would be. I actually did stop at the gas station, but I stopped for something to drink, not for chew. As I was paying though, I thought about how easy it would be to purchase a can and just simply not tell anyone. If I were to buy a can last night and suddenly not update this section of my blog for a few days, would anyone even know? Who am I doing this for anyways? Well, I made it through the night.

Today, I woke up and read an interesting comment on one of my Mission:Impossible posts. The poster said “Quitting nicotine needs no willpower if you a)understand the true facts and b)decide you don’t want to take nicotine any more.” Naturally, this poster didn’t share what the “true facts” are and added “If you think about [it], why would it take any willpower not to do something you don’t want to do. At the moment you are deriving yourself of something you still want to do.” This is a fair point and it’s one I often thought about when I quit drinking for the first time. Any time I heard someone say they were going to try and do something or try to quit something, I would just smirk to myself knowing that they would fail. In my mind, if you needed to try to ween yourself off something, you might as well save yourself the pain and effort. You don’t try to quit anything, you simply do it.

It made me wonder what this man that commented on my post does with his day. Does he get on Google and search for the keywords “quitting smoking” or “please come rain on my parade” and stop by for a reality check that wasn’t asked for in the first place? Listen, I know this is a hopeless task. Why do you think I named it Mission: Impossible? What I don’t need is someone stopping by and bringing me down for trying to achieve a goal, no matter how far-fetched it may be. Do I want to quit using nicotine? When I was at the gas station today looking at my favorite brand, my body was sure as hell saying “No… No you do not.” But logic says a completely different thing.

So yeah, I’m going to use willpower to quit nicotine. But really all that means is that I’m using willpower to get through the tough part… the first couple weeks. Believe me, I want nothing more than to say “screw it” and admit that this poster was right. Honestly, a fresh can of chewing tobacco sounds more satisfying right now than a blowjob from Angelina Jolie. So no, I don’t want to quit and yes, I’ll probably fail in the end… but do me a favor, if you’re going to visit this section of my blog and post comments, please try to keep them positive. I need cheerleaders, not naysayers.

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Mission: Impossible – Quitting Nicotine (Day 4)

August 21, 2010

Okay, last night I didn’t sleep well at all. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t been chewing leading up to going to bed or because I’d been chugging Mountain Dew all day long and continued to do so past midnight. My guess is the latter, considering my body was tired, but my mind just wouldn’t stop racing.

Today hasn’t been all that rough. I woke up around 11:30 and I’ve basically been lounging around and playing online poker since. I’m having a ridiculously bad day of poker. One of those days where you look at the board and only one or two hands can beat what you have and they have it every single time. I think I got stacked four times in less than an hour playing NL cash games today. Just a brutal session. I always seem to follow up a nice score with a terrible day. The Poker Gods just refuse to let me consistently build a bankroll. All in all, I haven’t been running well in cash games anyways. I should just stick to tournaments… I’m killing them right now, I just don’t have time for them today.

When you have a bad day of poker like I’m having, it’s natural to want to cave in and buy some chew, take a dip, and relieve the tension. Today, I’m preferring to take the Lord’s name in vain… repeatedly. My roommates are church-going fellows and are probably a J.F.C. away from giving me a holy knuckle sandwich. Knuckle sandwich? Who says that anymore? That reminds me, is it possible to bring back the word “dweeb?” I haven’t heard it in a long time and I know that if someone were to call me a “dweeb,” even today, it’d feel like being punched in the stomach. It’s more insulting than “douche,” which has become today’s most popular cliche put down. We’re all a bunch of “fags” and the only people insulted by that nowadays are the actual gay people that are loosely being associated with all the “douches” and “dweebs” tossing their sexuality around like it applies to everything. Homosexuality has become the Insult World’s “it tastes like chicken.”

Okay… I’m obviously going nuts right now. I need to get ready for work, which will be a good thing. My post-shift dip is a big one and the drive home is even bigger. If I make it back to you with my dipless streak still in tact, there might be hope for me yet.

Hours since last dip: 18

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Mission:Impossible – Quitting Nicotine – Day 3

August 20, 2010

10:00 A.M.

Today is the day that I plan to quit chewing. I woke up this morning with parts of two cans left, but certainly not enough to get me through the day. I have the day off, which is odd, because I work every single Friday, so I don’t have the luxury of serving tables for 6-7 hours to get me off to a nice, fresh start. That also means I won’t have the immense craving to take a dip as soon as I’m finished with my shift.

Some people might think that it’s odd for me to decide to quit tobacco when I have a likely second DUI conviction hanging over my head with potentially life-ruining consequences. With such pressure on my shoulders, quitting my two biggest vices within a month of each other might seem a colossal challenge, but I’m up for it. It simply needs to be done.

12:30 P.M.

Okay, I’m awake now for real. I just took the last dip of one my cans and it’s time to prepare myself for the day. It’s going to be rough since I basically have nothing to do all day. I went to the gas station to buy some groceries, but also to make sure I got some sunflower seeds and gum… it’s important to keep my mouth working if I’m going to get through this.

4:45 P.M.

Just put my last dip in.

6:00 P.M.

Damn, I’m hungry, but I can’t spit this dip out prematurely. I must savor it to its last dying bits of flavor… until the spit is no longer tobacco-colored. I am kind of starving though. My last real meal (and by that I mean Taco Bell) was Wednesday night. Yesterday I ate some fries, some soup, and half a peach cobbler. That’s it. Today, I’ve had some chips. I’m kind of dying here. I think I’ll get a pizza… but probably not for two more hours. LOL.

8:00 P.M.

Okay, I’ve had this last dip in for 3+ hours and my hunger is starting to overwhelm me. I just ordered a pizza, which is going to take about a half hour to get here. The final stretch of use has begun.

8:49 P.M.

Pizza has arrived and I just spit out my last dip. Abstaining begins…

8:53 P.M.

Wow, this pizza is lukewarm as fuck. Shit was probably ready 30 minutes ago. Shouldn’t have to pay $20 for a pizza and need to hit up the microwave.

9:30 P.M.

Just finished eating that lackluster pizza and as I was nearing completion, I could feel that craving coming over me. For a couple of minutes, I seriously considered saying “Fuck it,” but then I remembered the three people following my blog would be disappointed in me. The craving has died a little bit, but it was always extremely strong as soon as I was finished with a meal. Thankfully, I have a full bag of chips, sunflower seeds, and a pack of gum to tide me through the night. I have a feeling I’ve already passed the toughest craving I’m going to get tonight.

1:19 A.M.

Or maybe not. I’ve just spent the last 5+ hours playing in an online poker tournament. I finished 7th out of 1761 people for a healthy prize. Not what I was shooting for, and at the moment I’m kind of disappointed, but it was a great score for my bankroll. While I was playing, I kept busy by chewing sunflower seeds, eating pizza, and chewing gum, but as soon as the tournament was over, I once again considered pushing back my start date. I can start my quest on Monday, right? All I have to do is drive down to the gas station and I can put myself out of this misery. Am I even going to be able to sleep tonight? I think I’m going to make it through tonight because my favored chew is sold at very few places and the one nearby is closed now, so I’d be getting a second rate product if I broke down right now. Not really worth it.

I’ve been typing up my thoughts as they’ve come to me all day and now that I’m about to go to bed, or at least lay down, I’m finally going to publish it. I might have more to add later tonight if I have problems getting to sleep, but if not, I’ll see you tomorrow, my first full day of tobacco abstinence.

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Mission: Impossible – Quitting Nicotine – Day 1

August 17, 2010

The Premise: Nicotine addiction is a bitch and quitting usage is extremely hard. I’ve decided to blog about my attempt to quit chewing tobacco.

The Inspiration: I’m currently reading David Sedaris’ When You Are Engulfed In Flames and skipped ahead when I discovered he wrote extensively about his attempt to quit smoking cigarettes for good. Sedaris is a great–possibly my favorite–writer, so I knew an entire section devoted to the cessation of his favorite vice would be a great read. Needless to say, “The Smoking Section” has motivated me to mirror his efforts and blog about my own attempt to rid my life of nicotine use. People often say that in order to quit a habit, you need to replace it with a new one, so the goal here is to replace chewing with regular writing about quitting. I’m hoping I can become as obsessed with blogging about it as I am about actually using it. Sedaris decided to move to Japan for several months in order to quit smoking. I don’t have the financial–or legal–freedom to make such a move, so I’m planning on using the old-fashioned cold turkey method.

My History & Current Usage: My parents were chain-smokers when I was growing up and I adapted a hatred of cigarettes that has never died to this day. I’m 28 years old and I’ve never smoked a full cigarette in my life. In fact, my entire smoking history can be summed up in a single drag, taken after the first time I ever drank hard liquor. We’re talking about a 110 pound 9th grader that just took nine shots of vodka in less than thirty minutes. I was belligerently drunk, barely even conscious, and as far as I’m concerned, I’ve simply never smoked a cigarette.

Chewing tobacco has been a different story. I had no preconceived bias against chew, no built-in hatred, and the second-hand affects of chewing didn’t seem nearly as obnoxious or intrusive as someone smoking near you. I grew up playing baseball and sometime in my mid-teens I chewed tobacco for the first time with some of my teammates. I don’t remember loving or hating it, and even though I would dabble with it at times over the years, it never became a habit. Not until I was 24 and moved back home to Bremerton. I just got a job at a restaurant and my co-workers had a regular poker game that I started to frequent. A couple of the guys chewed and I would borrow until, eventually, I was providing for myself and a habit was born.

For the past four years, I have been chewing tobacco regularly. My usage can only be described as disgusting. I can think of very few situations where I do not have a dip in my mouth: when I’m sleeping, when I’m eating, when I’m working, and when I’m with or about to meet a woman I think I might be kissing relatively soon. THAT’S IT. I chew when I take a shower. I chew when I’m shaving, which can be difficult depending on the size of the wad in my mouth. I’m chewing RIGHT NOW. When I’m writing, laying in bed, on the computer, playing poker, driving, playing softball, watching TV. ALL THE TIME. Fuck brushing my teeth, it’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before bed. I chew when I’m sick, even if it seems to be making me worse. I’ve skipped meals in favor of keeping a dip in my mouth. In fact, I almost never eat breakfast because I don’t give myself enough time in the morning to eat AND chew, and you know what’s getting crossed off the list if I have to choose between the two.

I’ve never developed the ability to swallow the spit created by chewing tobacco. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. While it’s immensely gross to swallow the vile liquid leftover from dipping, swallowing also makes the habit easier to hide and less visible to those around you. Because I’m a spitter, I have to carry some type of cup or bottle with me everywhere I go. If someone were to walk into my room at any given time without warning, they are liable to find a number of 20 ounce bottles filled with viscous, brown spit and drained wads of chew. As the user this doesn’t bother me much, but I can only imagine the affect it has on the uninitiated. I can’t even count how many times I’ve accidentally knocked over such a bottle and watched in horror as it spilled all over my carpet. I’ve also had the displeasure of spitting into a certain bottle and drinking soda or beer from a similar one only to get them mixed up and take a sip of freshly expectorated, tobacco-tainted saliva. I don’t recommend that beverage to anyone. I also keep a spitter in my car at all times, and unlike my house/room where visitors are usually announced, I don’t always know ahead of time when someone might get in my car. It’s very unsightly.

Why I Need To Quit: There are lots of obvious health reasons to quit, but I really feel that few people stop for those exact reasons. Most younger smokers and chewers don’t care too much about the health complications: “Hey, I’m fine today. I can always quit later.” Older users starting to experience the consequences of their years of substance abuse often decide that’s it’s too late anyways: “Fuck it.” We all know what could happen if we smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco. We simply don’t care. It’s not an immediate concern… and though important, it’s not why I want to quit either.

I never understood why my parents would waste such substantial amounts of money on a habit they should have been able to shut off at any moment. By the time I graduated high school and school started to cost money, I’d often say they could have put me through college with all the money they spent on cigarettes over the years. It seemed like a fair statement and after racking up $30,000 in student loans that are now my responsibility to pay back, it was easy to feel resentful towards them. Even as an alcoholic and someone that has struggled deeply with my own demons, I couldn’t relate. My problems with alcohol have never been of the chemically dependent variety. I’ve never gone through withdrawals and even at the height of my problem, I might go a week without realizing it had been that long since I last drank. I get cravings for alcohol at times during a dry period, but I’ve never felt an overpowering urge to drink. Even when I relapsed after nearly two years of sobriety, it was because I wanted to, not because I felt compelled to.

It wasn’t until I first thought about quitting chewing that I understood that nicotine is an entirely different beast. Since it became habit-forming, the longest I have gone without dipping was for two months, the result of a period in my life when I was ridiculously focused on bettering myself. I had just gone through a breakup and I wanted to focus my energy on anything else and quitting chewing happened to fit the bill. Ultimately, I thought a new and improved me would help me get back with my ex and, after a brief period of success, when that failed to happen I went right back to chewing regularly.

In my experience, the hardest part about quitting nicotine is the first drive home after you’ve decided to quit. I’ve decided I’m done a number of times only to find myself stopping at the gas station before I get home. If you can make it home without stopping and get through the first night, you actually have a decent shot of sticking to the plan. The next day is still really tough, but if you make it through that, you have a real good shot. Most addicts associate their habits with various behaviors… For instance, a smoker might wake up and have a cigarette and coffee first thing every morning. If they eliminate the cigarette and continue the same behavior, the craving will almost certainly be overwhelming. This is a big problem for me because I associate chewing with virtually everything that I do. It’s hard for me to find the appropriate moment to quit. Maybe I want to quit during my work week since I have to go numerous hours during the day without chewing anyways. Well, the first thing I do as soon as all my tables leave is pop a dip in, so maybe I’ll wait until my days off to quit. Okay, I play softball on my days off and there is no way I’m not going to chew when I’m playing ball, so I guess I’ll wait for my work week. It’s a vicious cycle.

Even after I decided to create this blog idea, I went out and bought a can of chew. If I’m going to stop there’s no way my last can is going to be a brand I don’t really prefer. I had to get my favorite kind and go out with a blast, inevitably prolonging the process. It seems trivial, but to a regular dipper, there is a very noticeable difference between brands and I feel like I’d be doing myself a disservice if my last can was Copenhagen Straight Long Cut. I need Cope Straight Long Cut. Same company, nearly the same name, very different taste!

I really do plan to quit though (I promise!) and I’m hoping blogging about it will benefit my trial. Ultimately, I’m quitting because it’s an unnecessary expense, it’s disgusting and unattractive, and it obstructs my ability to carry out a normal day. I probably chew between 4-5 cans a week and at $6 a can that comes out to $100-$120 a month and $1200-$1450 a year. Those are some obscene figures for someone who is constantly living check-to-check. It’s also very undesirable to a woman, and even though I think I hide it well, it would be great not to have to worry about it at all. So my quest begins… and even though it will be a few days before I’m completely out of product, I’m looking forward to sharing my adventure with you.