Tag Archives: nicotine addiction

Addicted No More

Many of my life’s fondest memories includes the use of smokeless tobacco since it was such an integral part of my life for a little over a decade. I remember one time when my younger brother wanted me to give him a ride somewhere and me demanding he take a dip of my Copenhagen as payment for my time and trouble. In addition, I insisted he keep the pinch of tobacco in his mouth for the duration of the presumed short outing. Isn’t that what big brothers are for? I also recall deciding to stop at a carwash, on the way to wherever, to prolong my brother’s first dipping experience. If I remember correctly, and I’m pretty sure that I do, my young passenger got sick while I was washing my car, but luckily I had chosen the self serve option, so we were both outside of the vehicle when the vomiting began. After my car was spotless my brother no longer felt like going anywhere except back home to recuperate. Good Times.

The most memorable time I ever had involving snuff was also the longest I was forced to endure a single pinch of tobacco between my cheek and gum. Immediately after arriving at the hospital, when my wife was in labor, I placed a fresh dip of Copenhagen in my mouth. Eight hours later we had a beautiful baby boy, and I was finally able to leave my wife’s side, for just a moment, to rid myself of the now bland substance. I then immediately, of course, put in a fresh pinch of tobacco and all was well. My most unique experience with the stuff was my most desperate experience as well, and it was obvious proof of my addiction to smokeless tobacco. When I was a young adult I needed my two bottom wisdom teeth removed, so after the procedure the lower half of my mouth was tightly packed with gauze. This presented me with a major problem, of how I would be able to enjoy a dip, while in this predicament.

I summoned my ingenuity and placed a pinch between my upper lip and gum for the first time in my life. The novel idea was definitely outlandish, but it did the trick, and I learned that day I had another option for storing tobacco. The newly discovered technique came in handy whenever my lower gums were too irritated, from so much dipping, to put in a pinch of tobacco the proper way. I did hear somewhere that every can of smokeless tobacco (Copenhagen at least) has chards of glass mixed in; therefore, allowing the tobacco’s nicotine to enter a dipper’s bloodstream more rapidly, through the numerous miniature cuts produced in the lip, and enabling the user to become addicted to their product much faster. I tend to believe that theory because there does seem to be minuscule pieces of something shiny in Copenhagen, when examining the substance closely, and it does appear to glisten like glass in the sunlight.

I no longer have to worry, whether Copenhagen contain chards of glass or not, because I ended my love affair with smokeless tobacco over 23 years ago. I no longer have to be concerned with the financial burden of a nicotine addiction either. The price of a can of tobacco had risen to $1.29, when I ultimately stopped dipping, and I recently noticed my favorite brand of snuff is now selling for about $5.00 a can. I’m so thankful I’m no longer a slave to that stuff. I needed 3 pieces of Nicorette gum, and some tears, to quit my 10 year tobacco addiction. My determination and willpower could only take me so far, until I was at my wit’s end, and then I needed a piece of the Nicorette gum to regain my sanity. The tingling sensation and hint of nicotine in the special gum was sufficient enough, to extinguish my tremendous craving, at least for awhile. The withdraw from the addictive substance was overwhelming and almost unbearable; hence, the tears.

My mother-in-law was certainly thrilled when I finally gave up dipping. She had boldly suggested I quit, even as far back as when her daughter and I were only dating, by giving me some information on the perils of smokeless tobacco. The pamphlets included several photos of young men who had lost portions of their faces, due to mouth cancer, caused by dipping tobacco. At that time the pamphlets weren’t enough to “scare me straight,” so I continued using. I also persisted in superstitiously purchasing only the Copenhagen cans marked with the warning label, “May cause birth defects” instead of the ones stating, “May cause cancer.” What ultimately did motivate me to end my decade long addiction to snuff was my son. One day, while looking at my toddler, I realized I had the responsibility of doing everything in my power to be there for him, during his formative years, and that meant giving up tobacco. The thought of a pinch of tobacco between my cheek and gum, after all these years, is still enticing, but I no longer feel invincible, and I know the consequences can be deadly. I can only hope there’s Copenhagen in Heaven.



I used to be addicted to smokeless tobacco, and I don’t use the word addicted lightly. The term has been tremendously overused in today’s society because I don’t believe anyone can actually have a shopping, gambling, food, or sex addiction. We all have certain passions, and temptations in our lives, but wrongly referring to those as addictions only diminishes the seriousness that true addicts are facing. I do believe in chemical addictions, and I am empathetic towards those who have them. I think all of the other so called addictions are mythical, created by the health care industry, and when labeled an addiction tends to lessen the accountability factor; therefore, enabling bad decision makers to feel better about themselves for the wrong choices they’ve made in life. Furthermore, I’m sure the health care profession isn’t complaining about the substantial amount of money being made off these “addicts.”

I first tried a pinch of tobacco, around the age of fourteen, when my Grandpa McCleary offered me a dip of his Skoal. In his defense I had been bugging him, for a taste of the stuff, for many years. I suppose he thought I was finally old enough to handle the substance, or maybe I simply had worn him down. I do know from a very young age I was captivated by my grandpa and with his partaking of tobacco. I was fascinated by it all. The aroma, the spitting, and even the shiny lid of the can. The aluminum lid would shimmer in the sunlight, like a large diamond, whenever grandpa was outdoors and removed the can of snuff from his back pocket. Usually while corralling his cattle or tending to his garden. I only saw the Missouri farmer twice a year, so I developed a broad sense of who he was, primarily by what I observed, and that was mostly of a man who dipped Skoal throughout most of the day. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed my first taste of the stuff, but that initial experience was enough to ignite my long love affair with the addictive substance.

I may have been introduced to smokeless tobacco by my Grandpa McCleary, but I didn’t fall head over heels in love with it until the start of my high school baseball career. Back in the “good old days” it was quite common for baseball players to dip during games, and although it was against the rules, at the high school level, we took our chances. I remember one particular game, as I was entering the dugout between innings, when the assistant coach took me aside and informed me he could tell I had a pinch of tobacco between my cheek and gum. He then suggested I conceal it better so the umpire wouldn’t kick me out of the game. The high school seemed to have that same blasé attitude towards tobacco use. Many of us used tobacco, during class time, and it wasn’t only the baseball players but the farm kids as well. Now we couldn’t just blatantly go from classroom to classroom carrying around a spittoon all day, so only those of us manly enough to swallow for the entire class period actually dipped during class. We veteran tobacco users weren’t all that hard to spot either. The round shaped hole, found on the back pocket of an otherwise nice pair of blue jeans, was a dead giveaway.

My addiction to smokeless tobacco began innocently enough, as I suppose most addictions do, with me only dipping during baseball games and practices. I soon added snuff to my weightlifting routines and whenever I was outside doing yard work or changing oil in my car. I eventually found myself “needing” a dip when playing board games and watching television. The next thing I knew my addiction had mysteriously progressed, and the only time I wasn’t using was when I was either eating or sleeping. I woke up one day as a teenager dependent on tobacco to survive. My “drug” of choice was Copenhagen. If I was going to use tobacco then I was going to do it right and dip the “hard stuff.” None of that wimpy wintergreen flavoring, found in Skoal, for me. At the time I didn’t mind spending .79 cents, every other day, for a can of the delicious product, and I certainly wasn’t fearful of the possible consequences (gum disease and cancer) because at that age I thought I was invincible. I was thoroughly enjoying my addiction! Coming soon…part 2.