If chewing tobacco is a part of your life, you may already have experience with how hard it can be to break long-standing habits or addictions of this kind. Perhaps you’ve tried to quit in the past, but it hasn’t stuck. If you are interested in breaking a chewing tobacco addiction and don’t know where to start or have tried and failed in the past, don’t be discouraged.
It takes intentionality and commitment but breaking a chewing tobacco habit is possible for everyone.
Here are some trusty tips for removing this harmful habit from your life and quitting tobacco for good.
Tip One: Make a Plan
A process like quitting chewing tobacco can be a formidable project. Many people assume it is just a matter of generating a one-time effort of willpower or deciding on a whim to make the change. In actuality, chewing tobacco is a powerfully addictive substance and habit. This means that it takes a bit of strategy and knowing what you’re up against in order to successfully navigate the quitting journey.
Even a quick online search will make a number of authoritative resources available to you that can help you outline your plan of attack. These kinds of references can help you consider the various aspects of a successful habit-breaking process and know what tools and aspects you should have in place before you start.
Tip Two: Know Your Motivation for Quitting
The process of quitting chewing tobacco can be a slog. If you don’t think through the reason you plan to quit and enter the process with well-formed motivations to carry you through, it will be very difficult to continue forward when cravings become strong and difficult to manage.
Knowing your reason for quitting is a huge tool in your belt that can aid you in the process. It is important to flesh out in your mind (or on paper, or whatever format that is helpful for you) what actual benefits and outcomes you will experience when you’ve successfully quit your tobacco chewing habit. Instead of simply identifying that you want to quit for your family, take some time to identify the specific ways that quitting chewing tobacco will benefit your family and your relationships with those individuals.
How will that take place? What are examples of tangible outcomes you’ll experience when you’re on the other side and have successfully quit? What will an average day look like once you’ve overcome this hurdle and can spend time with your family without chewing tobacco in the picture?
Write those ideas and dreams down. Post them somewhere you can see them or be reminded of them regularly. Even better, share them with the people they will affect and ask those individuals to help keep you accountable.
Remember that holding to your commitments and following through on them is like a muscle you can strengthen or let atrophy. If you make half-hearted attempts at quitting or don’t hold yourself to the process long enough to see it succeed, you create behavior patterns that will skew any future attempts towards failure or inability to succeed.
This makes it harder the next time you attempt to quit. It’s vitally important to not begin a quitting process until you are ready, committed to your strategy, and prepared to see it through.
Tip Three: Involve Medical Professionals in Your Quitting Process
Some substance addiction recoveries must be treated with the utmost care and shouldn’t be attempted without professional medical help. Doing so can be dangerous and even deadly in some cases.
Though quitting a chewing tobacco addiction doesn’t usually pose a lethal threat if done incorrectly, it is still always advisable to involve medical professionals in the process. Nurses and doctors can help you monitor for any complications, provide helpful advice and resources, and can support your process in order to boost your likelihood of success.
Making this happen can be as simple as scheduling a quick consultation with your general health services provider. If you don’t have access to a practitioner, even making an appointment at a quick clinic like a Walgreens or community health facility can help you connect with professionals who can point you in the right directions as necessary.
Tip Four: Create a Support Network Around Yourself
A fundamental element of virtually any addiction recovery process is inviting other people to be a part of the journey with you. Whether trusted family members, friends, mentors, work colleagues, or others, the more people you can enlist to be a part of your support network, the better equipped you’ll be and the more collective strength you can draw on when the process gets hard and tedious.
Many people find this idea daunting, intimidating, or impossible. They would prefer to attempt the quitting process without telling anyone what is going on. However, having people ready to support you that are aware you are working towards quitting chewing tobacco can be one of the most powerful predictors and influencers of your success.
If this idea sounds hard, try to commit to just one baby step to see how it feels. Write down one name on your to-do list for tomorrow that you commit to contacting about your goal to quit chewing tobacco. You don’t even have to ask for anything – simply telling someone about your plan to quit is enough to begin this process.
Other helpful language for creating a support network can include asking a contact whether they’d be willing to let you message or text them when things are hard, or message them when you’ve reached a milestone to celebrate (e.g. one week or month without chewing tobacco, and so forth).
If you are afraid people might react negatively or be unresponsive, try it out on just one or two people and see what happens. People are usually much more responsive and supportive than we assume they might be, especially when they are asked for help with a sensitive or difficult subject.
Tip Five: Become an Advocate and Support Others
This last tip is intentionally about your future beyond the quitting process. Once you have succeeded in freeing yourself from an addiction, you’ll likely have learned valuable lessons along the way that could help others in the position you had once been in yourself.
Health advocacy is not just a concern for public health officials and hospitals. It can actually be a profoundly important part of the way we each live our lives.
None of us live in a vacuum. Our experiences and knowledge can help and influence others who may find themselves in similar situations in the future. When we make ourselves available to others who might have questions we can answer or need help that we can provide, we support our communities and our loved ones as they tackle their own health difficulties and addiction journeys.
Think about being more open and vocal about your journey with your social networks so that others know you could be a helpful voice in their own process. Consider volunteering for charities or foundations that help other people in your situation. Helping people in the future not only provides benefits to others but helps you too as you continue down your tobacco-free path.