Quitting smokeless tobacco is hard. But it helps if you have a plan. Here are some tips for quitting chew and dip.
Every day is a good day to stop chewing tobacco or dipping. Try to pick a date within the next two weeks so you can prepare. A time with low stress works well for many people.
After you quit, you may feel uncomfortable and crave a chew or dip. This is withdrawal. Your body is getting used to not having nicotine. During withdrawal, you may:
- Feel a little depressed.
- Be unable to sleep.
- Become cranky, frustrated, or mad.
- Feel anxious, nervous, or restless.
- Have trouble thinking clearly.
The timeline for withdrawal symptoms can vary, but for most people, the worst symptoms last a few days to a few weeks. You may be tempted to chew or dip when these feelings hit. Remember that they are temporary, no matter how powerful they feel at the time.
Triggers are specific people, places, or activities that make you want to chew or dip. Knowing your triggers can help you find ways to deal with them. Different people have different triggers. Some common ones are:
- Waking up during the night or having nightmares
- After meals or during breaks
- Stress or pain
- Feeling anxious, angry, impatient, or bored
- Seeing someone else smoke, chew, or dip
- Drinking coffee or alcohol
- After sex
- Before bedtime
- Watching TV or a live game
- Playing a sport
Triggers can cause cravings. Cravings are short but intense urges to chew or dip. All cravings are temporary and will pass with time. Learn about more triggers and get ideas for dealing with cravings.
One way to deal with nicotine withdrawal is to try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) like nicotine gum and patches. NRT can reduce withdrawal symptoms and double your chances of quitting smokeless tobacco for good. Explore the different types of NRT that can help you quit smokeless tobacco.
NRT comes in several different forms, including patch, gum, and lozenge. The nicotine patch is a long-acting form of NRT that releases a small, steady amount of nicotine through the skin. This small amount of nicotine helps satisfy your craving for nicotine. But you may still have cravings while on the patch. Doctors recommend using the patch along with a short-acting form of NRT, like nicotine gum or lozenges. This will help you fight these strong cravings for dip or chew. That’s because using the patch with either the gum or lozenge will work better than using any of these on their own. If you have a severe medical condition or are pregnant, talk to your doctor about using NRT.
A lot of research has been done on NRT. It has been shown to be safe and effective for almost all adult tobacco users who want to quit. NRT is available from your VA provider at a low cost or at your neighborhood drugstore without a prescription. If you plan to use NRT, have it available on your quit day.
NRT will give you the most benefit if you use it as recommended. Visit our NRT page to learn more about the different types of NRT, proper dosing, and how to combine methods for the best chance of quitting.
There are also other medications that can help you quit. Medications such as the prescriptions varenicline or bupropion, can double your chances of quitting for good. Using medication can help you keep committed to quitting for yourself and others.
Remember that quitting “cold turkey” is not your only choice. Talk to your VA health care provider about medications to help you quit chewing or dipping
It is hard to quit chewing or dipping on your own, but there are lots of resources to help you quit.
Check out the VA programs that can help you quit:
- Tobacco Quitline: Call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838) to talk with a counselor who can help you come up with a quit plan that works for your life. They can also give you support to stay dip free.
- SmokefreeVET: Sign up for our text messaging program to get support, advice, and encouragement while you are quitting dip or chew. For Spanish, text VETesp to 47848.
An hour, a day, or any time without dipping or chewing tobacco is something to celebrate. Get together with the people who’ve supported your quit journey. Take time to feel proud of yourself. Check out tobacco-free ways to celebrate your successes.
Be Prepared For the Unique Challenges of Quitting
People who use smokeless tobacco face unique challenges when they are trying to quit. It is not the same as quitting cigarettes. There is more nicotine in smokeless tobacco and stressors are can be different. VA has tailored resources to make help make quitting chewing tobacco or dip easier.