I quit. Confessions of a secret addict

By WES BROOKS,

First, yours truly has been riding in the fast lane the last month or so, and I haven’t had the opportunity to pull into the rest stop. Plus, there hasn’t been much that was interesting enough to offer my opinion. You have my apologies.

Let’s get into it.

The song I’ve had on rinse and repeat these last few weeks is from a band that largely flew under the radar when alternative/grunge music was white hot in the mid-1990s—“Not An Addict” by K’s Choice.

This Belgian band was formed in ’94 by siblings Sarah and Gert Bettens. This particular song from their 1996 sophomore release, Paradise In Me, is the one that brought them fame on a global level, with the track spending 30 weeks on Bilboard’s Heatseekers Chart. 

Give it a listen. I think you will agree Ms. Betten’s voice is hypnotic.

Disclaimer: the song is clearly about heroin addiction, but for the purposes of this article, I think you’ll agree it’s apropos.

I am an addict. There, I said it.

No, I’m not addicted to some illicit substance like cocaine or an opiate, I don’t smoke anything one might roll up or stick in a pipe, and I’m not sneakin’ toddys on my lunch breaks. But ask yourself, does the substance have to be illegal for someone to be an “addict” in the truest sense of the word?

I’m talking about smokeless tobacco. Dip. Snuff. My poison of choice was Copenhagen. And let me tell you, it has had its claws dug firmly in me for more than 20 years.

And I didn’t dabble; I’m talkin’ as much as a full can in a day on the weekend. On the way to work. During my lunch break. On the way home/before dinner. After dinner. 

Studies show this stuff is twice as addictive as smoking cigarettes. I’ve also read that it is as addictive as some opiates.

In my late twenties I traded smoking for dipping, and I can verify that first statement is 100 percent true. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the same room with an illicit opiate (e.g. heroin, morphine, fentanyl, oxycontin) so I cannot dispute the latter claim, but for me, it sure isn’t hard to believe.

Breathe it in and breathe it out

And pass it on, it's almost out

We're so creative, so much more

We're high above but on the floor

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive

If you don't have it,

you're on the other side

I’m sure there are some of you who may scoff “C’mon Wes, you’re seriously putting yourself on par with someone who might stick a needle in their arm or snort a line?”

No, I am not, and sure don’t mean to undermine or lessen someone in the throws of an opiate addiction.

It wasn’t too long ago I too would’ve agreed with the naysayers and said that’s ridiculous. No, I wasn’t out hockin’ my wife’s jewelry in some dark alley to pay for my next fix or disappearing for days on end. I am speaking specifically to my brain’s belief that it had to have it. My levels of panic, anxiety, and irritability would shoot through the roof if I found myself unable to satisfy the craving.

I’m sure there are people reading this who thought they knew me pretty well. “Wow, I had no idea.” I can easily count on one hand the number of times someone I knew caught me by surprise with that tell-tale bump in my lip while at the gas station or in traffic. 

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive

If you don't have it,

you're on the other side

I'm not an addict, maybe that's a lie

There was one instance in particular that happened about a year ago that caused the statement “you have to quit” to ring out in my brain every time I put that stuff in my mouth.

The Boss (aka my Mrs.) and I were out with friends celebrating the return of my former officemate and her husband, Catherine and Shane Lott, for a visit. We were well into the evening when the subject of smoking came up.

I felt compelled to offer my 2 cents, so without remembering the person who lives with me and my disgusting habit was sitting right beside me, I offered up something along the lines of “Gosh yes, smoking is disgusting… that smell just gets on you; it’s inescapable.”

Now, please know I meant every word of that statement, but it took the Boss one nanosecond to put me in check and quickly point out the hypocrisy of what I’d just said — as well she should have.

Incredulously, she said, “What!? YOU DIP!”

Saying that moment was embarrassing would be an understatement, but that wasn’t the big “ouch!” moment. Just as the Boss’ exclamation rang out, Catherine whipped her head around, and as if in slow motion, she asked…

“Youuuu doooo wwwwhat?”

OUCH.

It's over now, I'm cold, alone

I'm just a person on my own

Nothing means a thing to me

Oh, nothing means a thing to me

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive

If you don't have it,

you're on the other side

I'm not an addict, maybe that's a lie

If you’ve read my column before then you probably know how I feel about lying. To be clear, if asked, I would fess up and admit I dip just as I did in that moment. However, it wasn’t until much later that I realized I was lying to someone — me.

A few questions I finally made myself answer. Questions I thought applied to everyone but me.

Do you go out of your way to make sure none your friends and colleagues know about it or see you doing it? (Good gracious, yes.)

Is it a consideration when planning your day, i.e. are you figuring at what point in the day you’ll have time to do it? (Gulp… yes.)

Could this stuff eventually kill me, or best-case scenario, leave me permanently scarred and disfigured? (Yes, moron, it even says that ON THE CAN.)

If you or someone you know wants to quit this disgusting habit and/or needs some sensible help with how you can set that process in motion, I’d encourage you (and them) to seek out this handy document online to help assess your level of dependence, and how to go about quitting.

It’ll even show you how you’re your habit is hitting your pocketbook.

(If you want to know how much it cost to feed my beast for a year, Google “Fuchs Full House 50 Guitar Amplifier Head.”)

To access the document, simply type the URL into a web browser of your choosing to view/download the file called “Smokeless Tobacco: A Veteran’s Guide to Quitting”: bit.ly/QUIT_DIP.

By the time you read this I will officially be tobacco-free for one month.

It is my promise to my myself as well as to you, my family, friends, and colleagues to remain that way.

Forever.

When he’s not rocking his socks off with his three-piece band, Brooks, a native of Jones County, is a busy family man who can often be spotted hopping from one event to the next with his wife, Shane, and their son, Campbell. Email him your thoughts, comments, encouragment, and critiques to: 6550music@gmail.com.

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