Whether you chew or smoke or cigarettes, tobacco is a habit that feels impossible to kick. That’s because there are multiple addictive mechanisms happening all at once. First, there is nicotine, which is one of the five most addictive substances in the world.
It acts by triggering a release of dopamine in the brain, but the problem is that it starts replacing all the other receptors that also trigger dopamine release. The next thing you know, your brain does not know when to produce dopamine without the signal of nicotine.
Second, using tobacco comes with a ritual. Packing the tin or cigarette pack, opening the seal, the look and feel of the products, and the act of using them. Cigarettes occupy about five to six minutes of uninterrupted time, and dip gives you something to think about for up to a half-hour at a time.
Consider the fact that anyone with a pack-a-day habit spends nearly two hours a day smoking, and if you dip four or more times, you’re occupying your mouth, hands, and thoughts for the same amount of time.
When you use tobacco, nearly every part of your life becomes associated with the habit, which makes quitting so much more than just quitting the nicotine. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to make the process easier.
1. Try Tobacco Alternatives
Tobacco alternatives like Black Buffalo non tobacco chew are an option if you are 21 or older and not quite ready to give up nicotine or the ritual. Black Buffalo’s original formula is made with edible green leaves and a blend of food-safe ingredients to give you everything you love about chewing and nothing you don’t. It does not contain any tobacco leaves or stems, but it does deliver pharmaceutical-grade nicotine.
2. Get Some Exercise
If you are looking to actually cut back on the nicotine and you are ready to let go of the habit altogether or at least reduce it, exercise is a perfect solution. Exercise increases the amount of dopamine in your system, and it gives you something to do for the amount of time you are engaged. Let yourself really get into it, and you may forget tobacco even exists. Additionally, if smoking is the habit you’re trying to kick, being able to run that mile in under ten minutes is a great motivator.
Some people choose this time to join a gym or enroll in some exercise classes. If you’re paying for a healthier you, it makes it harder to justify putting more money into negating your efforts. You can get the social support of surrounding yourself with other people who care about their health, and you may even make new friends that will help you change your habits for the better.
3. Avoid Triggers
This one is difficult because tobacco use may be ingrained into everything you do, but you can at least avoid the big ones. If you have friends with whom you normally smoke or dip, let them know you are trying to quit and you may need to avoid hanging out with them for a while. You may be surprised by their supportive response, and you could even inspire them to quit, too.
If you normally wake up in the morning and smoke a cigarette with your coffee, try drinking your coffee at a different time—like maybe while you’re driving to work. That way, you can avoid smelling your car up and having to spray yourself down with cologne before you walk into the office. Whatever your strongest triggers are, see if you can change up your routine to help relieve them.
4. Get Your Teeth Cleaned
Smoking and chewing tobacco both cause several types of oral and throat cancers, yellow the teeth, cause bad breath, and gum disease. Going to the dentist and getting a thorough cleaning done will help motivate you to maintain your oral health so that you can feel fresh all the time. You may even want to consider a whitening treatment so you’re proud to show off those pearly whites again.
After you get your teeth cleaned, you can help combat your cravings by keeping some mouthwash and a toothbrush with you. When you start feeling that edge, spend some time taking extra good care of your teeth. By the time you’re done, you’ll have sweeter breath and you will have gotten yourself through about a fourth of the amount of time the average craving lasts.
5. Eat Some Veggies
Making the decision to quit using tobacco is often a commitment to change your lifestyle. Most people need to do so in order to maintain their status as non-users. Diet is a big part of quitting because it usually goes one direction or the other. Many people are hesitant to give up tobacco because of their concern for gaining weight, but you can curtail that and your cravings by adjusting your eating habits.
Make sure you are eating plenty of high-fiber fruits and veggies—keep them on hand so you can reach for them when you want to reach for your pack or tin. Fill your diet with plenty of lean proteins and whole grains so you feel fuller for longer. Drink plenty of water, and avoid sugary and salty foods because they actually increase your tobacco cravings.
This is not a comprehensive list, and you should definitely do your research if you are considering quitting tobacco. Find the strategies that resonate with you, and know that you can combine all the strategies if you want. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, get support, and know that you can do this!