The Other Side

Day nine free of tobacco. While I did require the patch, I was able to do the thing I've been dreading for so long, give up chewing tobacco.

Quitting a 60mg a day nicotine habit is not a minor accomplishment. I'm quite proud of myself. While I'm not in the clear just yet (I'm going to follow through on the 6 week patch program), I think I've completed the hardest part.

For the first couple days without tobacco, I found myself reaching for a fix every ten minutes or so. As soon as I realize that I've quit and the tobacco is not there, a burst of panic sets in and is followed by a few minutes of intense cravings. These are probably the worst moments of the process.

After several days, these intervals grew to an hour, then to several. At this point, I'm only having a handful of them a day.

Without question, the patches make a huge difference. I highly recommend them to anyone trying to quit one of the tobacco habits. I believe the patches have a distinct advantage over alternatives like nicotine gum or these new electronic cigarettes. I previously attempted quitting using gum. The fact is, the gum became just as much a habit as cigarettes had been. Having ready access to nicotine in whatever form leaves me like a lab rat in a cage, pressing down on the little lever for a dosing. In fact, I got hooked on chewing tobacco as a result of trying to quit smoking. I figured it would be easier to quit snuff than cigarettes. In fact, it's probably harder due to the larger amount of nicotine consumption involved in the habit.

I had suspected (and am now confirming) that patches do not really provide any physical "habit" and therefore would be easier to relinquish when the time comes. There's really no immediate relief when applying the patch, and so there's not a strong positive association between relief from nicotine withdrawal and applying the patch. There is no "dosing" effect.

In fact, yesterday, I forgot to put on a patch altogether. This never would have happened with gum or electronic cigarettes. It wasn't until afternoon that I realized I'd forgotten the patch. I felt mildly irritable and impatient, but not unbearably so. After applying the patch later in the afternoon, these symptoms went away.

I believe that if I can conquer this long lived addiction to tobacco, I can accomplish the additional life changing goals that are to follow in the coming weeks.