Overcoming My Tobacco Addiction – Daily Updates on My Fight to be Free

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Hey, guess what? I’m not perfect.

I love tobacco, especially chewing tobacco. My favorite is Skoal Pouches. I’d take a bath in Skoal if I could, I love it so much.

There are bad habits and then there are really bad habits. Addiction Habits are really bad habits because the chemical addiction makes the habit all that more difficult to break. With an Addiction Habit you really have to break two habits: #1 The Neurological Habit (You Must Weaken the Synapse) and #2 The Chemical Habit (You Must Break the Chemical Addiction).

Yep, even habit experts, like me, have bad habits, if they’re being honest.

I’d been doing chew, mostly long cut, going back to the mid-1990’s. I started doing it while doing yard work. I did a lot of yard work, evidently, because I eventually became addicted to long cut chew.

In early 2013 I became concerned that my chew habit would cause mouth cancer, so I went cold turkey. That was hard because the long cut chew delivers an abundance of nicotine. So, I experienced acute nicotine withdrawal symptoms that lasted about two weeks.

That same year, I replaced my long cut chew habit for a cigar habit. I found myself smoking two or more cigars a day. Then I stumbled across a research article about a different type of chewing tobacco called Pouches. According to this research article, probably financed by Skoal, pouches offered a lower-risk alternative to long cut chew and smoking. According to the research, the membrane of the pouch reduced the incidence of mouth cancer dramatically.

So, I bought a tin of Skoal Pouches. Immediately, I noticed there was not nearly as much of a Nicotine kick as there was in the long cut chew or the cigars. I actually had to put two pouches in my mouth just to get any nicotine buzz at all. Despite the low nicotine drip, the pouches satisfied my craving for chew. And the good news is that I no longer crave long cut chew or cigars.

The bad news is that I have been dipping, as they call it, with Skoal Pouches ever since.

Well, recently, while brushing my teeth, I noticed in the mirror that the right side of my tongue didn’t look right. It was all red and discolored and this scared me a lot. I had always said to myself that if anything ever takes me down, it will be tongue or mouth cancer from doing this damn Skoal Pouch dipping crap.

After looking at my tongue for too long, I decided to throw out all of my Skoal Pouch tins.

So, now I’m embarking on breaking one of the worst bad habits anyone can have – an addiction habit. I believe I will succeed but I may not. I may fail. I think/hope that documenting my war on chew so publicly, will make it harder for me to throw in the towel. We’ll see. Anyway, if I do fail, you’ll know.

Also, documenting this war on chew might be beneficial to others, who are also trying to break an addiction habit. Good or bad, fail or succeed, I’m going to lay it all out here.

I’m in the middle of tax season while doing this, so I have very little time. My writing will be stream of conscious stuff. I’m going to break some writing rules I’m very fond of, due to time constraints. I’m sorry about that.

So, here we go.

Day One – March 2, 2021

4am – Up a little earlier than normal. Have to drive my daughter to Newark Airport. She’s heading back to NOLA, where she lives. I’m looking forward to driving her to the airport because I get her all to myself for our 45 minute commute. A little bit of quality Daddy time. I just finished brushing my teeth and gargling. The right side of my tongue isn’t looking right. It’s got me worried. I gathered up all of the Skoal Pouches and threw them all in the trash. “I’m done” I say to myself. I’m thinking to myself, “I hope it’s not too late and my tongue heals”. I often dip while driving in my car. But, I’m not dipping on our way to the airport. I’m distracted talking to my daughter. On my return trip back from the airport, however, I want to dip. Badly. But I don’t because I threw everything out.

6am – Just got to the gym. Today = lifting weights day with my son. I hardly ever think about chew while I’m exercising.

7am – Just got into the office. This will be my first “work” day without dipping. I just had a coffee. I usually dip after my coffee, so I’m craving some Skoal right now. Uhg. I miss my pouches right now.

9am – I am thinking about my Skoal Pouches again. I want to dip right now. I’m thinking, “Jees, its only been a few hours without dipping. I can’t even go a few mere hours?” I wonder in my head.

9:15am- 12:30pm – Very busy last 3+ hours. Being busy definitely took my mind off of my Skoal habit. I’m actually surprised that I didn’t have one craving during this 3+ hour period. So, keeping my mind very busy definitely stops any chew craving thoughts.

I did notice during this 3+ hour period, however, that I was very cranky. I’m never cranky. I also noticed that I felt impatient. I’m like Mr. Rogers when it comes to patience, so this really bothers me. I seem to be losing my patience very easily on stupid things.

I also noticed during this 3+ hour period that I felt much more focused on my work, almost manic-type focus. Very strange. Could the lack of nicotine be responsible for this manic focus? Or, could it be that the energy bar I ate to take my mind off chew, might be responsible?

12:30pm – Break for lunch. My Lunch routine = eat something healthy from ShopRite, buy NY Post, listen to radio while I eat in my car in the parking lot of ShopRite. I drink 16 ounces of water right after I’m done eating. When I’m done eating, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to dip and read the NY Post. The Post has the best sports section. Today, I can’t do any of that.

I know from my own Rich Habits Research, that one of the most effective ways to break a habit is to change your environment. So, no more reading the NY Post in my car. I get my healthy food from ShopRite, buy my NY Post and head back to my office.

1pm – I just finished eating. Drank my water and now I’m reading the NY Post. And I’m CRAVING my Skoal Chew. No doubt this is the worst craving for chew so far today. Lunchtime is clearly my weakest time. Chew has its strongest power over me at lunchtime. “Very interesting”, I think to myself.

1:30pm – 5:30 pm – Extremely busy and focused. Hardly thought about dipping at all. My sinuses are acting up.

Sneezing most of the afternoon. It’s literally 25 degrees outside today, so can’t be spring. Haven’t had sinus issues since summer time. I wonder if it has something to do with nicotine deprivation?

5:45pm – Leaving my office for home. Want to dip during my commute. But craving isn’t that strong. I think its because I rarely ever dip while commuting home at night.

7pm – 845PM – Finished eating dinner. Craving chew right now. This is another time I LOVE doing chew, right after dinner.

Instead, I go out to the Irish Pub I recently built in my back yard and pour myself two jiggers of Brandy, about 3 ounces. I bring the Brandy back into the house where I will read my bedside book while sipping my Brandy.

Craving for chew rages as soon as I’m done drinking my Brandy. But I ignore it and go to bed thinking, “Tomorrow I have to wage war all over again. Uhg. ” I slowly fall to sleep, hoping to dream about anything but chew.

Day Two – March 3, 2021

5am – I’m down in my basement home office doing my Rich Habits reading. I usually devote an hour to reading to learn. Typically, when I’m doing this reading, I dip. But I’m not dipping this morning. The craving is very strong. It’s too strong. Thank God I have no chew around or I would 100% start dipping. After 30 minutes, I stop the reading. The craving is too strong. I have to do something else. Then it dawns on me that I inadvertently created a joint habit: reading to learn and doing chew. I write a lot about the powers of Habit Stacking – joining two different habits together, normally to produce some positive outcome. But, the tool that I am, I inadvertently Habit Stacked a good habit (reading) with a bad habit (Chew). Dope! I should know better.

I take the balance of my reading upstairs to the spare reading room/bedroom. The craving for chew is still there, but it’s definitely not as powerful. Change in environment. I’m able to complete my reading routine. Environment change is one of the secrets to habit change, I write a lot about. So, I’m taking my own medicine and following my own advice, so to speak.

7:45am – In the office. Just got back from the gym. Good run – 32 minutes on Treadmill. Hate the Treadmill. So boring. Love running outside, but I hate running outside in the cold of winter. I noticed in the gym that, according to my Garmin Watch, my Heart Rate hit a new time low – 55. I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the absence of nicotine?

Having a coffee and going through my Rich Habits emails/social media before I put on my other hat for the rest of the day – my CPA hat, that is. After I finished my coffee I felt this strong craving for chew.

Damn. Like Britney Spears, Oops, I did it again. I Habit Stacked. This time it’s coffee and chew. It dawns on me that I always dip after having a cup of coffee. I’m beginning to realize that I Habit Stacked eating & drinking with chew. Now I’m thinking to myself, “I may have to forgo eating and drinking altogether. I’ll break my chew addiction, lose some weight and die from dehydration.”

8:20am – 12:15pm – Very busy morning. Barely thought about chew these past 4 hours because my mind was so preoccupied with work. I’m thinking, ” breaking my chew addiction during tax season, one of the busiest times of the year for me, may have been a very smart move.”

I do notice that I’m feeling cranky and negative.

12:30pm-1pm – I am no longer eating my lunch in my car at ShopRite. I bring my lunch to the office and eat at my desk. The lunchtime chew craving is just too strong. This change in environment works. My chew craving is not as bad.

1-4:25pm – Hardly thought about chew all afternoon. I have to leave to go to a client. While I was at the copier a few minutes ago, thinking about the time and that I need to leave soon to go to my client, a voice inside my head said, “I’m going to look forward to doing chew during my drive to my client.” For a moment, while standing at the copier, I felt a little burst of happiness. Then I realized I gave up chew and that happiness immediately turned into unhappiness. I now felt grumpy, as I was getting ready to drive to my client.

I’ve noticed that I seem to be more phlegmy for some reason since I stopped doing chew. Just a lot of phlegm. And my sinuses have been acting up since I stopped doing chew.

5:40pm – Driving back from my client. I put my wallet/cell phone into the middle compartment of my car. My eyes unconsciously search for a Skoal Pouch tin, which I always put in that same compartment. Then I remember there’s no chew because I stopped doing chew. Longing. I felt such longing for chew. Oh, how I miss my chew. I put the car in drive and head home. During the first part of the trip home, all I am thinking about is chew. I want to do chew.

6:30pm – I meet my wife, son and future daughter in law at a local pub-restaurant for dinner. The service sucks. Normally, I could care less, but without my chew I am not as happy, relaxed and patient as I normally would be. I haven’t been happy, relaxed or patient the past 2 days. I’ve actually been miserable. I want to complain. I never complain. But I want to. “Must be the lack of chew”, I think to myself.

8:30pm – I get myself 3 ounces of some Redneck Riviera Whiskey, from my backyard Irish Pub, put it by my nightstand and start reading my friend Eric Whitmoyer’s book on Goal setting.

9pm – Finished my Redneck Riviera. I want chew. Damn. I don’t do chew anymore. I go to the bathroom, take a leak and check out my tongue. It looks almost 100%. I’m thinking, “maybe I was imaging things. Maybe my tongue was always fine.” “Nope,” I say back to myself. “Ignore that inner voice trying to tell me to go back to chew.” I go to bed. I really miss my chew so much.

Day Three – March 4, 2021

5am – I finished my hour long Rich Habits reading routine. The chew craving was very weak this time. Much different then yesterday morning. It was almost nonexistent, Boy, that was fast. Just two days and cravings gone. I’m wondering if I may have blown the difficulty of breaking my chew habit, out of proportion. I’m now thinking that the Skoal pouches probably got rid of my Skoal Long Cut nicotine addiction, and because the pouches have so much less nicotine compared to long cut, maybe this Skoal Pouch thing is less an Addiction Habit and more of an ordinary habit. I’m now wondering if I even have a nicotine addiction from the Skoal Pouches.

8:25am– In office. Just came from the gym. Got a good lift in today. My resting heart rate was very low again this am. It was between 56-58. When I was doing chew, my resting heart rate was between 61-65. I’m really beginning to think the nicotine from the Skoal Pouches was artificially elevating my heart rate.

Had a cup of coffee and had an immediate chew craving. The cravings continue, but they are not as strong as Day 1 or Day 2. The cravings, I noticed, come like periodic thoughts or waves that flash in my mind. Like my subconscious brain is saying, “hey time for chew”. Then my conscious brain says, “no chew for you. We quit, remember?”.

8:45am-12:15pm  – Another busy morning. The SBA came out with another IFR which changed the way you calculate your PPP Loan amount for sole proprietors. This reading kept me busy for a few hours. Almost no thoughts of chew during this 3.5 hour period.

12:15pm – Head to ShopRite to get food and bring it back to office. Wishing I could do chew while driving to ShopRite. Back in office, eating my food while looking at College BB stats. SJU crushed Providence last night. March Madness almost here. Finished eating and immediately wanted chew.

12:45pm Back to work. More PPP stuff. Client calls coming in about 15 a day now. Emails about 60 a day now. Spent most of afternoon on phone/responding to emails. When I’m done, I shift to reviewing tax returns, and my brain says, “I want chew while I review”. I think Mohammad Ali is living inside my brain. I ignore the request and keep reviewing tax returns.

I’m definitely snacking more. Had a slice of my daughter’s NOLA King Cake at 4pm yesterday with coffee because my brain kept asking for chew. The great irony is that immediately after finishing my cake/coffee, I got a strong craving for chew. Damn. Cravings still there, like little voices whispering in my ear frequently.

6pm – Just finished my last tax return review. Was jotting some notes in journal about how there was still a little light outside and how summer is on its way. Then, “I want chew” craving exploded into my mind. Why? Because spring is on its way?

7PM – In my backyard Irish Pub. Eating dinner and having some wine in the pub with some friends. One of my friends is a subscriber to Rich Habits and tells me he likes my War on Chew posts. I confide how hard it has been and how much I miss my chew.

My wife starts rummaging through the draws at the bar. “I swear I saw a tin of Skoal somewhere around here,” she says. “Ha ha. Very funny”, I say to her. My wife, my biggest supporter. I’m blessed.  

Day Four – March 5, 2021

5am – In basement office. Reading. Zero cravings for chew. That’s the first time. Feeling I may have beat this addiction to chew.

7:10am – Finished running at gym. Felt strong running. Thinking that the last 2 runs I’ve felt strong. Wondering if it has anything to do with abandoning chew. As I’m leaving my son’s house to drive to my office, I get a strong craving for chew, just from looking at the middle console in my car, where I used to put my chew tins. Damn, cravings still strong. I think, “thank God there’s no chew in the car. I would definitely do chew right now.”

7:25am – In office. Ate half bagel + coffee and now I have a strong craving for chew. Eating and drinking and chew – Habit Stacking. Crap. You can stack multiple habits on top of each other and not even know it. I did.

7:30 – 10am – Lost in my work. No thoughts of chew at all.

10am-11am – Zoom interview with some big wig in India regarding my Rich Habits research. When I finish the interview, I look at my watch. “Lunch soon”, I think to myself. Almost immediately, I get a craving for chew. Just from thinking about the word lunch. Crap. “When will these stupid cravings end?” I wonder.

The cravings don’t hurt. They don’t cause any physical pain. But what they do cause is momentary unhappiness. Every time I get a craving, the thought or anticipation of doing chew makes me feel happy. Just thinking about doing chew makes me feel happy. Then the CEO part of my brain says “No.” to chew. And immediately I feel unhappiness. This yo yo activity between being happy and unhappy really is the suckiest part of this entire war on chew.

11:30am – Heading to ShopRite for lunch. Bring lunch back to office. Eat and drink my 16 ounces of water. When I’m done, I WANT CHEW. Uhg.

12pm –4pm Client meetings. Client meetings definitely work in keeping my mind off chew.

4pm – Left work early – daughter having birthday party at our house tonight. This will be a big test because I will be having a few drinks tonight.

9pm – Party is still going on but I have to go to bed. Another busy tax season workday for me tomorrow (Saturday). I’m sitting in bed reading and wishing I had chew. It appears I Habit Stacked reading at night with chew. What the Hell haven’t I Habit Stacked chew with? My God. Everything I do I Habit stacked to chew: eating, drinking, reading, cocktails, beer, wine, yard work. I think the only activities I haven’t Habit Stacked with chew = going to bathroom, exercise & sleeping. Lesson – never Habit Stack a bad habit with anything.

I honestly don’t know if I will be able to break this chew addiction. I’ve literally Habit Stacked chew with everything I do. My craving for chew is not as strong as it was on Day 1, but it’s strong enough. I’m rationalizing that if I can get through 2 weeks without chew, I’ll beat this chew addiction. After today, it will be 4 days. So, I’ve got a long way to go – 10 more days. Not sure I’m going to make it. It’s too long. I’m worthless and weak if I can’t break this habit.        

Day 5, March 6, 2021

6am – Up late this am due to daughter’s birthday party last night. Immediately upon waking up, I WANT TO DO CHEW. Instead I get a coffee and head down to the basement to do some reading/research. The entire time I’m reading, I WANT CHEW.

I’m feeling unhappy without my chew. I think that’s the real physical withdrawal effect – with chew, I am happy almost all the time. Without chew, I am unhappy almost all the time. Well, at least the past 5 days. My lizard brain is really fighting hard to get me to do chew. It’s relentless. Sends me flashes, signals to do chew constantly, especially when my mind is not occupied with work.

8:20am – Just got into my office, after lifting at the gym. I sit down to get a coffee and my brain demands that I do chew. If there was a tin of Skoal in my desk draw, I would 100% do chew.

I want to put an end to this war on chew. I want to just get some Skoal. My tongue looks 100%. It looks perfect. “Maybe I just needed to back off a little on the chew,” I’m thinking. “Maybe I overreacted by going cold turkey.” 

8:45 – 1150am – Worked like a maniac this am. I am amazed at my productivity when I am totally focused. I definitely think Focus = one of my superpowers. Thinking about Chew all day. I want it. Very badly. Five days into this war on chew and chew is winning. The longing is still very strong.

11:50- 12:15pm – Lunch. Chew, Chew, Chew, Chew …. It’s all I think about when my mind isn’t preoccupied with work. Why am I torturing myself? It’s been 5 days and I am still a slave to chew.

12:15 – 1:30pm – Starting prep on a complicated tax return. Felt tired for some reason, so had a coffee and a coffee ring pastry thing a client brought in this morning and immediately got a craving for chew.

Oh, here’s something interesting. Since my war on chew, I’ve been eating like I’m going to the electric chair. By the time I beat my chew addiction, I’ll be obese. I’ll have a healthy tongue in exchange for all of the bad things being fat causes: high blood pressure, type II diabetes, heart disease, stretch marks, new fat clothes. Uhg. I want to sue Skoal right now. 

2-5PM – Late lunch at Off the Hook bar. They’re sponsoring a run that my son and daughter-in-law’s running. Long Island Iced Teas and Guinness seem to do the trick – haven’t thought about chew at all these past three hours.

5-8pm – Heading home with my son and my buddy. My son asks me to stop by 7-11. He wants to buy some Skoal Pouches. I look at him wondering if he’s kidding. He’s not. My son doesn’t do chew, except rarely. But, Wow! Talk about facing your demons. I’m so close to doing dip right now, while watching Bren dip in my car. “Damn that looks so delicious,” I’m thinking.

Our Off the Hook crew heads to my backyard Irish Pub. I have a few more Guinness’. Somehow it becomes Karaoke night at the Corley Irish Pub. We’re having fun. Bren pulls out his Skoal tin and slips two pouches into his mouth. He looks at me. I think he’s testing me to see if his old man is strong enough to resist. I friggin’ am! No chew for me. I’m so proud of myself while realizing my family unintentionally sucks as a support system. 

8:30pm – Head to bed. Have to work tomorrow. Tax season. I’m a little buzzed from drinking and too tired to care about wanting to do chew. Thank God.

Day 6, March 7, 2021

6-7am – Up doing my Rich Habits reading. Craving chew just about every minute of my reading.

7:30-8:15 – Gym – run day. My only mental refuge from not thinking about chew = the gym/exercise. Thank God I didn’t Habit Stack chew and exercise.

8:30-11:30 – Work like a maniac. Hardly thought about chew.

11:30-12pm – Lunch. Chew is calling me.

12-2:30pm – Client Meetings. One of my clients = part of my Rich Habits crew.  We’re actually talking about my chew posts. So, naturally, I’m thinking about chew a lot, but in a good way.

2:30pm – Dive Home. I miss my chew. I want some right now. I think I put on about 4 pounds these past 7 chew-less days.

One interesting thing – my Garmin is telling me that my Resting Heart Rate is noticeably lower. Since I’ve owned my Garmin, my Resting Heart Rate has been about 59 – 64. Yesterday, after my run, my Resting Heart Rate dropped down to 49. I have never been even remotely close to breaking 50. I think, before giving up chew, the lowest I’ve seen was around 56.  This is a very good thing. You want a low Resting Heart Rate, especially after exercising aerobically. That’s a sign of good health. So, that makes me happy.

But not as happy as doing chew.

Day 7, March 8, 2021

5am – Rich Habits reading. Chew craving not very strong. I’ve noticed that this has been the case in the mornings. The cravings are just not as strong as during the meat of the day.

6-7am – Gym – lift day.

7:45 – 8:15am – In office doing some Rich Habits Emailing/Social Media. Would really enjoy some chew right now. If I had chew in my drawer, I would do it. So, very important tool to help you break Addiction Habits – Make sure the thing you are addicted to is nowhere to be found within your various environments. For me, that’s my Home Office, Regular Office & Car. I threw away all of my chew tins. Had I not done that, I would not be on Day 7 without chew.

8:15-10:30pm – Wrapped up complicated return. Now I want a reward – Chew. I’m feeling very unhappy right now because I have just deprived myself of chew at a moment when the craving was very strong.

Just rummaged through my office drawer looking for chew. I am so weak.

When will these cravings come to an end?

I am feeling some stomach pain right now. I remember this pain when I had it in 2013, when I gave up Long Cut. I must have a nicotine addiction from these Pouches, after all. I am feeling a mild physical pain right now in my stomach. It’s like a dull ache.

This really isn’t worth it.

The key for me is having zero downtime. I need to be constantly working. The moment I take a break is the moment the Chew Cravings begin.

3pm – Busy most of the day with client calls, tax return prep. Scheduled a few Rich Habits media interviews, which is good. I have a craving for chew. So, I’m going to eat some leftover lunch, hoping that will stop this minor nicotine deprivation stomach pain. I’m tired. That’s another side effect of giving up chew. I’m more tired than normal.  

5:10PM – So Stressed right now. Close to 90 emails received today + 10 client calls lasting about 3 hours + review year end financials + review tax returns + prepare tax returns. I desperately want chew to make me feel happy for just 10 minutes.

One more week. I think I’ll have this thing licked after two weeks, so just need one more week.

7-9pm – Leave office for home. Eat, have a little cognac and go to sleep. Too tired to give a rat’s ass about chew.  

Day 8, March 9, 2021

5:15am – No time to do Rich Habits reading. Coffee, bathroom and head to gym. No chew cravings at all this morning.

8am – Trying to get an early start this morning but the damn phone keeps ringing non-stop. Four calls within 15 minutes. The stress of tax season. My brain is pleading with me to do chew to counteract the stress.

Ate energy bar for breakfast with coffee and am still feeling very tired. Longing for chew is very strong right now. I think when my energy is low, the longing for chew grows. The nicotine must provide some energy boost – that’s why my body’s craving it.

I’m going to give this abstinence thing until the end of this week (3 more days). If my chew cravings don’t subside, I’m going to go back to doing chew. I miss doing chew so much and these cravings just won’t stop. I feel miserable and unhappy. And I’ve felt this way for 8 days in a row.

My tongue, the thing that scared me into giving up chew, is now 100%. Looks good as new. The thing that has been in the back of my mind going on 5 years now, is the worry that I would get tongue or mouth cancer and this would prevent me from getting up on stage and doing my speaking gigs. People/organizations pay me good money to share my Rich Habits research. If they had to cut my tongue out due to chew cancer, I think that might put an end to my speaking career. And I love to speak. So, the question is: – do I like having a tongue, more than I like doing chew? I think I like having a tongue more.     

3pm – Just finished back to back client meetings. Got something to eat to take my mind off chew. The interesting thing is that immediately after I eat anything, I get an intense craving for chew. But within a few minutes of my belly feeling full, the chew craving dies down significantly. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been eating so much more since I gave up chew. I know I put on at least 4 pounds since I gave up chew. I can literally feel the chew cravings subsiding now because my belly is full.

6pm – According to my Rich Habits Tracking Schedule, I’m eating about 500 more calories a day, since I began this Self-Imposed Chew Intervention. Also, bought 2 pounds worth of peanuts. Every time I feel like chew, which is about every 20 minutes, I eat some peanuts. I bought them at 12pm today and I’ve gone through about ¼ of a pound of peanuts. I’m going to be so fat when I’m done beating this chew addiction. Thank God I exercise every day.

6:30pm Wrapping up at work. This tax season my schedule seems to be between 7:30/8am – 6:30/7pm plus about 10 hours over the weekend. I don’t mind working hard. Or, I didn’t mind it until I gave up chew. Now, everything about life is miserable without chew. I’ve been unhappy and grouchy for the past 8 days.

“Just have to make it until this Friday.” That’s what I keep telling myself. If I can get through 2 weeks, I should have this beat. But, I swear to God, if my cravings, come this Friday, are still as strong as they are right now, I am going to buy a pound of chew on Friday and swim in it.

Day 9, March 10, 2021

8am – This morning = first morning, since I gave up chew 8 days ago, that I haven’t had ANY cravings. My morning cravings have always been mild, but this morning I had zero cravings. This is a very good sign. Seems, for me at least, that 8 days may be the magic number. We’ll have to see how the rest of the day goes, but this gives me great hope that I can beat my chew addiction. Yesterday I was hopeless and almost ready to accept defeat. This morning I feel hopeful and confident I will defeat my chew addiction. As I said, we’ll have to see how the rest of the day goes. Stress seems to be a trigger for chew cravings and I haven’t had any stress yet. It’s still early.   

10:40am – Well, I think I figured out how to offset the chew cravings:

  • Daytime – Eat an enormous amount of food during the day. I’ve been eating a fist full of peanuts every time I get a chew craving. So far this morning, I’ve had six fistfuls of peanuts, or about 900 calories worth.
  • Nighttime – Eat an enormous amount of food for dinner, followed by 3 jiggers of cognac or Whisky.

My strategy here is – once I am successful and have beaten this chew addiction, I will be able to reduce how much food I eat. The 3 ounces of alcohol at night don’t bother me much. Quite frankly, I’ve been doing that even when I was addicted to chew. Sometimes its whiskey, sometimes beer and sometimes wine. It’s just something I do at night when I am reading a book and getting ready for bed. 

2pm – Hardly any chew cravings today, thank God. Yesterday they were so strong I was about to throw in the towel. Maybe cravings peak immediately before they go away. Despite the fact that the cravings have mostly gone away, I still want to do chew. I miss it very much. I probably should have disdain for something that is clearly not healthy for me. But I don’t. Chew brought me happiness, albeit temporary. It was the one thing I could, without fail, depend on every day to make me happy. Now that’s gone. And I miss my old friend who brought me happiness.

5pm – Getting ready for a 5pm Zoom call with friend/colleague from Australia and as I was accessing Zoom, I got a strong chew craving, for some reason. First chew craving of the day.

8-11pm – Watching March Madness basketball with a few friends in my Corley Irish Pub. We’re talking about my battle with chew. I tell them I feel I have this thing beat. My wife says she’s tired of hearing about my chew battle and jokingly says to stop torturing yourself and go do some chew. Like I said, I have an amazing support system at home.  

Day 10, March 11, 2021

7:20am – Woke late due to late night – watching Providence vs DePaul Big East BB game. March Madness = my favorite sports season.

8:30-12:30pm – Non-stop tax season work. Client calls, client meetings, finalize tax returns, read up on new stimulus bill. Did not think about chew for one second.

12:30pm – Go to ShopRite to get lunch and bring back to office – my new routine since I gave up chew 10 days ago. I don’t enjoy lunch any more. It’s lost its enjoyment because I gave up chew. I miss reading the NY Post sports section in my car, while doing chew.

I definitely don’t have cravings for chew any longer. But, I do miss doing chew. I miss doing it first thing in the morning while doing my Rich Habits reading/research. I miss doing chew after coffee in my office, after my morning coffee. I miss doing it in my car at lunch. I miss my mid-afternoon chew break – around 3pm – 20 minutes going through my Rich Habits social media/emails. I miss doing it during my nighttime bed reading. I miss my friend very much.

So, I thought I’d break down the Brain Science that’s going on inside MY Brain during this struggle to break free of this chew addiction. As I mentioned above, I am really breaking two habits: The Physical Chew Habit and the Nicotine Addiction Habit. The Nicotine Addiction is what has been causing the cravings I’ve had the past 8 days.

Cravings = dendrite receptors on my brain cells screaming out to be fed the nicotine that creates the neurotransmitter my dendrite receptors desperately desire. Whenever you have a chemical addiction, receptors on the dendrites of the brain cells involved in the habit, multiply exponentially in order to absorb the abundance of the neurotransmitter created by the nicotine.

But when you suddenly stop feeding these thousands of receptors the nicotine they were created to process, they let you know. This is what cravings are.

During the craving stage, these thousands of receptors are like hungry baby chicks in a bird’s nest screaming out to be fed. The hungrier they get, the louder they scream and the stronger the cravings become.

After some time, however, these nicotine receptors begin to die off because they are no longer needed – there’s no more nicotine for them to process.

I believe I’ve passed that cravings stage. My nicotine receptors clearly have decreased from thousands to hundreds, because the cravings have all but ceased. In a few more weeks, most of the remaining nicotine receptors residing on the dendrites of my brain cells, will die off.

What will never go away, however, is the memory of the pleasure doing chew gave me. Those emotional memories will likely never go away and will always beacon me to re-engage in the habit. So, my long-term enemy is the emotional memory, and emotional memories are the most powerful type of memories humans have.

Day 11, March 12, 2021

3pm – I have been chew-free for 11 days in a row now. I thought about chew a few times today, but I did not have cravings for chew – Just a feeling every now and then of missing something I loved doing, that I knew was bad for me. Right now, when I think of chew, I feel unhappy because I can’t do it. But that unhappy feeling seems to be getting weaker and weaker, which is a good thing. I would say the unhappy feeling started to fade when the cravings started to fade after Day 8.

I think the smartest thing I did was go cold turkey during the busiest time of the year for me – Tax Season. I have to review a lot of tax returns, think very hard, talk to so many clients and I don’t have much down time at all.

As my Mom often said, an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop. During the past 11 days, whenever I did take a break from reviewing tax returns, I almost immediately thought about wanting to do chew.

I can’t wait until I never have one single thought about chew. That’s when I know it’s behind me. For now, I’m able to push back on thoughts of chew, now that the cravings have died down.

I can confidently say that I beat this addiction.

It took about 8 days for the cravings, the chemical addiction, to fade away. Now I just have to deal with the periodic thought about doing chew, which generally occurs after drinking or eating anything.

I have to concede that I had quite an advantage. It helped that I am a habit expert. Here’s the most powerful lessons I learned, in order of importance, from this journey to overcome my habit addiction:

  1. Eliminate the Temptation – The first thing I did was get rid of every tin of chew I had at home, in my car, in my bar and in my office. If I hadn’t done that, especially during the first eight days, I would not have beaten this addiction. No doubt about it, I would have done chew if it was around even on Day eight. So, for any addiction you’re trying to break, this is a must. Throw out all cigarettes, alcohol, etc. And don’t go to bars or parties during the first two weeks of your journey to break your addiction. Isolate yourself at home, if you have to. During those first few weeks, do everything to stay away from the temptation.
  2. Change Your Environment – I realized pretty early on that lunchtime was my weakest moment. That is when the chew craving was at its strongest. So, I stopped eating my lunch in my car and brought my lunch back to the office. That was a huge decision.
  3. Habit Stacking Works and Makes Breaking Habits Harder – Habit Stacking is a slippery slope. I literally habit stacked my chew habit with so many activities: my morning Rich Habits reading routine, morning coffee, eating lunch, reading the NY Post & doing chew (three habits stacked into one), nighttime chew after I had a whiskey, beer or wine and doing my chew while reading before bed
  4. Substitute Something – I ate a snack every time I had a craving. Peanuts were my snack of choice. I must have eaten a pound of peanuts the first 8 days. But, that filled my stomach and muzzled the cravings I was having.

I don’t think I need to post anything any more. The purpose of these posts was to help others beat their addictions, assuming I succeeded, which I did.

Posted in

TCORLEY

21 Comments

  1. Carole DeHart on March 4, 2021 at 7:44 AM

    Thank you for being so transparent! My addiction is sugar. I LOVE it and no matter how much evidence I read about how bad it is or how many doctors tell me it’s horrible for me or my family history of diabetes, I still CRAVE it. I’ve tried so many times and so many ways, on my own and with the help of professionals, to limit to an acceptable level, but I just keep coming back. The withdrawal symptoms are bad which tells me just how much harm it’s doing to my body and losing my stress relief is even harder. Praying for your continued success (1 day is absolutely success!) and ultimate victory!

    Blessings

  2. Sam Shober on March 4, 2021 at 7:56 AM

    Wow Thomas. Thanks for your transparency on this! You can do it. I have similar addictions, so I can relate. Nicotine is a very strong drug. You should consider seeing a doc to help. Or at least get some of the gum or patches, etc.

  3. Vince on March 4, 2021 at 8:09 AM

    Wow! I gave up cigarettes a few years ago. It’s challenging but gets easier with time.

  4. Scott S on March 4, 2021 at 8:52 AM

    Great stuff, Tom. Thanks for opening up and sharing this w/ everyone. I’m trying to break my whiskey habit at night, so I know how hard it can be to break the habit/addiction. Take care.

  5. Ray Navarro on March 4, 2021 at 9:20 AM

    Thank you for sharing Tom:
    It’s certainly motivating to hear from others working to overcome their weaknesses, more so from someone you’ve come to admire in such a short time, I heard of you for the first time just three days ago, when I came across the audio version of your book Rich Habits, I couldn’t put it down until I heard the whole thing, very impressive material, really opened my eyes to the possibilities, and motivated me take a hard look at my daily routine and work to improve myself in every possible way, right now I’m working out the list of habits that keep me from succeeding, some are habits, some are poor decisions, but even the poor decisions are part of not keeping up to date on the latest information on my area of interest, so I now see that even a string of bad decisions can be overcome by exercising this one habit of continuous learning on my industry.
    Thank you for all you contribute to enrich the lives of others including my own.

    Respectfully.

  6. Wesley on March 5, 2021 at 7:43 AM

    Congratulations on making such a difficult change, we are all pulling for you.

    Do see a doctor about your tongue, just to be safe. My wife is a Speech Pathologist in a acute care hospital and would tell you tongue issues are nothing to play around with. I get it, I deal with skin issues and I hate going to see the doctor who is going to freeze(hopefully) or cut(didn’t enjoy that) off my face, but it’s part of taking care of ourselves.

  7. Kyle on March 5, 2021 at 8:00 AM

    Love this! Your genuine approach is unique through all the noise. Keep up the fight, one day at a time.

  8. Vince on March 5, 2021 at 10:05 AM

    Awesome work keep up the fight! It takes time but will get better. First week is the worst.

  9. James Larkin on March 5, 2021 at 11:00 AM

    Tom, if you have learned to run (a rich habit per your research) and have the discipline to push yourself while you feel like quitting, you will get kick this bad habit. There is no doubt in my mind. First you have been willing to recognize it, now it’s just working through the difficult process. Best wishes.

    • pwsadmin on March 5, 2021 at 11:15 AM

      Hey James. Right. Self-Awareness is the starting point to breaking any bad habit. I’m into my 4th day off chew. It seems to be getting easier every day. But, as I’m typing these words, in my mind I’m thinking, “I really miss my chew.” Hopefully, after a few weeks, I won’t even think about chew at all. That’s my hope

    • Nicholas Harper on March 7, 2021 at 4:14 PM

      Addiction…I have been there (alcohol). But I kicked it One Day At A Time. It truly does get easier over time.

  10. Jason on March 7, 2021 at 8:03 AM

    Thank you for sharing this Tom. Truly inspiring and motivational for all of us as we fight our own bad habits. Yours is a real world case study regarding that journey. Thank you so much for sharing !

  11. Christopher Murphy on March 7, 2021 at 9:13 AM

    Wow this brings back memories for me . It was tough but necessary . You got this bro …

  12. Theo Gotsis on March 8, 2021 at 3:49 AM

    Hi Tom, wishing you all the best in breaking this bad habit, I know you can do it.
    It is coincidently a timely time at moment that I am starting our lenten fasting period leading up to Easter this year.
    This is a total of 50days period (40days plus Holy Week), of abstinence from all meat and dairy foods, as well as other entertainment pleasures etc we take for granted in our everyday lives.
    Have been doing this for a few years now, but boy how hard it was when I first did it. I thought it was near impossible, But I thought if others can do it, so can I.
    Words of wisdom and examples from past Saints and their examples get me thru it, in much of the same way you talk about all the Rich Habits you need to do to be successful.
    Today it is still tough for me to do with all the temptations that go thru ones head, but it is much easier because of the rewards I know are at the other end.
    Thanks always for your blogs, I enjoy them immensely and get plenty out of them and know many others do too, and good luck. All the best.

  13. Lisa Schreiber on March 10, 2021 at 9:39 AM

    No…don’t do it!!! Promise you’ll text/talk with one of us before you buy the nasty stuff! We’ll talk you out of it. Just keep telling that little bugger inside of you, “nice try!”

  14. Tushar on March 11, 2021 at 8:37 AM

    Hi Tom,
    I would highly recommend this book to you:
    The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back Or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Home
    Book by Dave Andrews and Jack Canfield
    Though it deals with drinking, it is applicable to nearly all addictions/bad habits. It is a highly effective and useful tool. One of the best takeaways is to focus on what you are moving towards rather than what you are moving away from.

    • pwsadmin on March 11, 2021 at 9:20 AM

      Tks Tushar. I know Jack. Will get the book

  15. Rainy Cadenhead on March 13, 2021 at 9:13 AM

    Congratulations!! Thank you for taking us along on the journey! Now we can rejoice in your victory right along with you! Great job!

  16. Carolyn Walker on March 16, 2021 at 3:43 PM

    I read your diary while I was listening to a boring conference call at work. This part of your life was new to me!
    Congratulations on beating your addiction. Keep up the good work, you will never regret it. My dad had to quit smoking when he was diagnosed with heart trouble in his early 70s. He lived to age 87 but right down to the end he continued to say how he still craved a cigarette. Like you he turned to an occasional “two fingers” of scotch and daily wine with dinner. Good work Tom Corley!

    • pwsadmin on March 16, 2021 at 5:44 PM

      I hope the cravings end soon. Yesterday was a bad day – I almost called it quits on the quitting. For me, it’s an interesting experience because I’m also looking at this from a Habit Expert analytical perspective.

      • Carolyn Walker on March 17, 2021 at 9:20 AM

        DON’T QUIT! 22 years ago on January 4, 1999 my daughter went cold turkey with smoking. She was in her early 20’s and had been smoking for probably five years. She will be 45 this year. She is so happy that she quit that nasty habit. One day you will feel the same and wonder how you ever had that addiction. Maybe double up on the whiskey. Well wait, it’s probably not good to just substitute and start another addiction! My friend who used to smoke started sucking on Tootsie Roll lollipops as a substitute. That worked for her till the day she died in her 80’s. Keep at it Tom! You can do it and be an example to many and can add this to your very interesting talks.

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