Kick The Can Don't Kick The Bucket

Growing up my dad dipped pouches, one grandfather chewed, and one grandmother chewed. I always thought of it as gross as a kid. I never really had the phase of wanting to try it. I tried smoking, I just couldn’t get past the coughing. Occasionally I’ve been known to smoke a cigar but that’s about once a year or less. Therefore I didn’t start dipping until I was out of college. I started off with pouches and moved to long cut because of the variety of flavors.

Well I know this is bad for me and I never should have started but it all came about around the time of my divorce and the nicotine was a nice mood boost. I tried quitting during that time but took such a hit on my mood that I became unbearable to be around which leads into the first point about quitting nicotine.

It Has to be the Right Time!

In school we learned about the different phases of making a positive change in ones life. From precontemplation all the way to maintenance the stages help medical professionals identify where in the process a patient currently sits. The phases are as follows:

  1. Precontemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance

If you are in the precontemplation stage there is no point in discussing or even reading further. Bookmark this post and come back to it later. One of the physicians that I worked with in school told me about a patient in this stage on quitting smoking. He said once a year he would ask about quitting and the patient would say, “Not ready yet.” but continued to see the physician because he didn’t push. One visit the physician asked and the man said he would consider it and took some information about quitting. It was a few years in the making but eventually he gave up cigarettes and didn’t go back.

Many times in addiction especially with nicotine a person is either pushed or pushes themselves through the stages or tries to take action in the contemplation stage without preparation. Another issue comes when a person is in the precontemplation and a significant other be it friend or family member attempts to get them to quit or rushes them through the early stages of contemplation and preparation. While this is not the only reason for relapse it is a major recurring factor.

The Right Tools for the Job!

Once you have contemplated quitting and decided to do it we come to the preparation phase. Here we need to take an assessment of the goals of quitting, the timeline, and what is considered success. Having the right tools will make the difference between successfully quitting and just another failed attempt.

My first attempt to quit I used nicotine lozenges. This helped to stop dipping and using tobacco but it just replaced tobacco with the lozenges. In this attempt I had not considered that it was the nicotine that was the problem not the tobacco. Also, the lozenges are way more expensive like to the point I could get one week of lozenges for the cost of one month of dip. This tool did not work for me but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for anyone and it’s a good place to start.

Having a background in psychology and a particular affinity for behavioral therapy I used this knowledge as my base for altering my own behavior. For me the right tools were the ones I’d used in graduate school.

Building a Behavior Plan

I started off in the preparation stage recording when I dipped. What I found was that I dipped most when driving and coding or focusing. These are the times I needed to focus on most in my plan.

First step was to cut out the dipping from the down times, the times that were not when I was driving or coding. This was the easy part as it was removing dip from the times that I didn’t dip as much. I did this for a week or two before moving on to the next step.

During this initial time I had to find a replacement behavior for dipping. I started off moving down from long cut to pouches to slowly reduce the amount of tobacco. Then I had to find something to replace the dipping behavior. I tried sunflower seeds but that didn’t work well, gum didn’t work either. Oddly enough I found that taking a bottle of water with me in the truck when I wanted to dip I would take a drink of water.

At this point I initiated the plan with the reward of a rice-crispy treat each day if I didn’t dip and the ultimate reward of an Xbox One after I make it six months without dipping. This is the maintenance stage of change. Currently I’m in the action phase. I’ll post an update in a few months with my progress.