quitting tobacco in addiction recovery

Tobacco is Wacko

Graduate Blog: a travel, health and personal evolution lifestyle blog.

By Ryan Howsley Graduate

I’ve been sober or just over two and a half years now and have been able to put aside all of my nasty habits except for one- chewing tobacco. I chewed all day, every day, only spitting it out to sleep and eat. Quitting has always been a nice thought but never something that seemed possible. No matter how hard I tried to quit the longest stretch of time away from chew is while I sleep. I tried the gum, Jolly Ranchers, seeds, the patch, you name it and I tried it. Nothing has worked until now.

When we were in Baja, I ran out of chew two weeks before returning to the states, which left me with no choice but to quit cold turkey (chew is not sold in Baja). It was absolute hell the first couple of days, and I know for sure that I was a nightmare to be around – thanks Jess for putting up with me, but as time went on it became easier and I was so stoked to think chew was going to be a thing of the past.

I was wrong, damnit. The instant I crossed over the border and back into California the cravings came right back. Which wasn’t really all that surprising. In Baja, I really didn’t have a choice, there wasn’t anywhere that I could get chew, but in the states it is everywhere. I had a choice, and all I could think about was chew. It took every ounce of strength I had inside me to not go to the nearest gas station right past the border and pick up a can. Jess could see the struggle plain as day on my face and called me out right away. “you want chew, don’t you?” “ Yup real bad, I’m going to need your help if this chewing thing is really going to be over.”

Jess was my “other driver.” She was the one that said no when I couldn’t. Anytime I thought about chewing, stopped at a place where chew is sold, or needed to yell out of frustration, she would be my go to. Jess was the person that I had to lean on to get past this. I’m not easy to deal with when I want something I can’t have and she had a very hard job keeping me away from bad habit. BUT – she did it. Her main come back to me when I said I wanted to chew, was a picture of a mouth that had been taken over by cancer. That picture scares the shit out of me. I know what tobacco does to people and the health risks involved with it. I also know how hard that I have worked to get a second chance at life – an epic life – and I’m risking all of it by chewing. It literally made me sick when I thought about what I could be throwing away, just because I want a little chewing tobacco.

Over the next few {long} weeks, Jess continued to bring that picture up anytime I had a temper tantrum. She continued to call me out and she continued to be my other driver. Without having her with me I wouldn’t have made it ten miles past the border. When I didn’t have the strength or willpower to say no, she did. She reminded me how awesome life is and that risking it all over chew is just ridiculous.

Eventually the cravings dwindled, and I really don’t want to chew anymore. I can say, without a doubt, I would be chewing today if Jess hadn’t been my other driver. Chewing for me was the hardest thing that I’ve ever quit (even harder than heroin), and I’m stoked that I did!

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