Smokeless Tobacco: Tips on How to Stop
Smokeless tobacco is used as a snuff or chew. Fine-grained tobacco is used as a snuff that is pinched between the lower lip and gums. Chewing tobacco is shredded tobacco that is placed between the cheek and gums. Either form releases an addicting component called nicotine that is absorbed into the blood stream through the lining of the oral cavity or by swallowing of the tobacco juices. Smokeless tobacco is referred to by names like dip, snuff, and chewing, oral, or spit tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco: A problem
Tobacco, whether smoked, snuffed, or chewed, is equally harmful. No form of tobacco is safe as all cause nicotine and other harmful chemicals to build up in the blood. The deadly effects of smokeless tobacco are manifold. Bad breath, brown staining of teeth, erosions and bleeding of gums, receding gum line, loose teeth, and mouth sores are some local effects caused by smokeless tobacco in the mouth. Other effects include the risk of a high blood pressure, heart attack, and brain damage due to stroke. The most dreaded consequence of use of smokeless tobacco is that of oral cancer which can develop in any structure of the mouth like the tongue, cheek, lips, gums, or floor or roof of mouth. The risk of cancer is not limited to the mouth. Some other cancers known to occur in those using smokeless forms of tobacco include those of the food pipe, stomach, and bladder.
Quitting smokeless tobacco: A difficult task
It is hard to quit smokeless tobacco due to the dependence and tolerance that one develops for nicotine after repeated use. Smokeless forms add more nicotine into the blood than smoking. The user gets a kick or buzz that relates to the pleasant effects due to nicotine. The user then becomes physically and psychologically dependent upon tobacco. One is then said to be addicted to nicotine and tends to sue and more of tobacco in any form. Gradually, the body adapts to the effects of nicotine and more quantities of tobacco will be needed to produce comparable effects. This is called tolerance. If one tries to stop the use of tobacco, then one develops withdrawal symptoms. These can be both physical and mental. The common symptoms are anxiety, depression, restlessness, irritability, loss of concentration, anger, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, tremors in the limbs, and sleep disturbances. These can last hours to days and can lead the user to again seek tobacco in any form to build up enough nicotine in blood to get relieved from the symptoms.
Quitting smokeless tobacco: Importance
It is important to quit smokeless tobacco because of the various ways it affects health and life. Smokeless tobacco causes various health adversities. It can damage the oral structures causing decay of teeth and gums. It can cause discoloration and damage to the inner surfaces of the mouth. The white flat slightly raised lesions called plaques can be precancerous. Cancer is the most devastating consequence of use of smokeless tobacco. This is not limited to the structures in the mouth but can involve many other organs in the body like the food pipe, stomach, bladder, pancreas, and kidneys. Cavities, diseased gums, and bad oral hygiene make the mouth still worse. In addition there are social and economic effects which should motivate one to quit the use of smokeless tobacco.
Getting ready to quit using smokeless tobacco
The first step to quit smokeless tobacco is to resolve to do so. A date may be chosen for the ‘quit day’ and a plan may be formulated to do so. The date may be chosen to be a date of birthday or anniversary to make quitting an important commitment. The quit plan can be a part of a new year resolution. The plan should be adhered to with commitment and discipline. The quantity can be reduced to half before making an overambitious plan of quitting all at once. Help may be sought from friends and family. Tobacco products may be removed from the home, work place, and the car. Situations and circumstances that lead to a desire for use of tobacco should be indentified and avoided. A craving can be subdued by using alternatives to chew upon. These may include sugarless gum, candies, sunflower seeds, cinnamon sticks, and carrot sticks. A consultation with a healthcare provider and dentist can help to assess the adverse effects caused if any. Support groups, cessation classes, and committees that help in quitting may be useful to keep the resolve. A healthy diet, plenty of water, and moderate exercise are important contributors to the process of quitting.
Alternatives that can be used for smokeless tobacco include nicotine gums and patches. Other substitutes can be sugarless gums, candies, shredded coconut, dried fruits and resins, and mint-leaf snuff.
Once a resolution is made to quit smokeless tobacco, it should be adhered to for long. Strong cravings and desires may pose a challenge several times. One should be psychologically and emotionally prepared to meet these. One may think back to remember what inspired them to quit. The adverse effects may be reiterated. Other addictions like that of alcohol or drugs should be given up.
You have to start believing that you can give up on smokeless tobacco and promise yourself a better and healthier life. The only way to success is to persevere daily and never give up.