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How To Quit Using Smokeless Tobacco
Why it is important to stop using smokeless tobacco:
Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms. Examples include chew, snuff, dip, dissolvable tobacco, and snus. All smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine and may contain as much nicotine as 3 cigarettes. You may be physically dependent on nicotine. You may also be emotionally addicted to it. The cravings can be strong, but it is important to quit using smokeless tobacco. You will improve your health and decrease your cancer, stroke, and heart attack risk. Mouth sores and tooth problems will also improve when you quit. You can benefit from quitting no matter how long you have used smokeless tobacco.
Signs and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include the following:
- Dizziness, headaches, or tiredness
- Depression, anxiety, or irritability
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Feeling restless or bored
Prepare to stop using smokeless tobacco:
Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Withdrawal symptoms can happen when you stop and make it hard to quit. The following can help keep you on track:
- Set a quit date. If possible, set the date about 3 to 4 weeks in the future. This will help you prepare your home and routine for the change. Do not set the date too far away. You might change your mind or lose your resolve to quit. Know the triggers that tempt you, and make a plan to avoid them.
- Tell friends, family, and coworkers that you plan to quit. Explain that you may have withdrawal symptoms when you quit. Ask them to support you. They may be able to encourage you and help reduce your stress to make it easier for you to quit. Ask them not to use any tobacco products around you. Do not allow them to use tobacco products in your home or car.
- Remove all smokeless tobacco products from your home, car, and workplace. Remove anything else that will tempt you.
Tools to help you quit:
- Counseling from a healthcare provider can provide you with support and skills to quit. The counselor can also teach you to manage your withdrawal symptoms and cravings. He may help you learn methods such as meditation that can help you feel less anxious or jittery. You may receive counseling from one counselor, in group therapy, or through phone therapy called a quit line.
- Taper down means you use less smokeless tobacco each day until your body no longer craves the nicotine. You can also reduce the number of places you use it or use a different kind that has less nicotine. Wait as long as possible before you use smokeless tobacco when you have a craving. You may be able to increase the amount of time you can wait after each craving. This will help decrease the amount you use and the number of cravings each day.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches, gum, or lozenges may help reduce your nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. NRT is available without a doctor's order. Follow directions so you do not get too much nicotine. An overdose can be life-threatening. Do not switch to cigarettes as a way to quit using smokeless tobacco. If you are pregnant or have heart disease, talk to your healthcare provider before you start NRT. He may recommend other ways to quit, or he may want you to come in for follow-up visits while you use NRT.
- Prescription medicines such as nasal sprays or nicotine inhalers may help reduce your withdrawal symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider about these and other medicines to help reduce cravings. You may need to start certain medicines 2 weeks before your quit date for them to work well.
- Chew sugarless gum or sunflower seeds as a substitute for smokeless tobacco.
Manage weight gain after you quit:
Nicotine can affect your metabolism. You may gain a few pounds after you quit. The following can help you control your weight:
- Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. You may also find it helpful to chew sugarless gum or eat healthy snacks.
- Drink water before, during, and between meals. This will make your stomach feel full and help prevent you from overeating. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise may help reduce cravings and stress from nicotine withdrawal. Take a walk or do some kind of exercise every day.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.