Pressure GuageThis is my first blog post, so bear with me.

I sit here at work, rejoicing in the fact that I’ve been quit for 13 days.  No small feat since I dipped for about 6 years.  I remember my first dip like it was yesterday.  Skoal cherry long cut.  I threw up shortly after putting it in.  What on earth would possess someone to keep doing something like that after having that initial reaction?  I was that guy and I don’t have an answer.

I didn’t dip for quite some time after having that first, disgusting, dip.  But then, I got to be more involved in my local volunteer fire department.  I developed a strong friendship with the EMS lieutenant at the department (he became my best friend at the time).  He chewed.  The fire chief chewed.  Several of the members chewed.  A lot of the members smoked.  And the ones who smoked, chewed on fire scenes, so they didn’t have to smoke.

The EMS Lt offered me a Skoal wintergreen pouch.  I took one and popped it in.  I became hooked.  I started bumming them from him more regularly.  Then I started buying my own.  Then Skoal citrus pouches came out.  I found a new addiction to a new flavor.  This went on for about two years.

I started dating a girl and I kept my nasty habit a secret from her for 6 months.  I finally decided that I should tell her what I’d been hiding.  She gave me the ultimatum to quit or it was over between us.  I quit cold turkey.  We were together another 2 years.  She was away at school at the time and I was working full time, back home.  I would go visit her on my weekends off and spend the weekend at school with her.  I had just finished a Thursday daylight shift (meaning I would have Friday, Saturday, Sunday off) and called her to let her know I was on my way to see her.  She told me not to bother and that things were over.  I was significantly upset.  This was a girl that I saw myself with for the rest of my life.  I hung up the phone and drove to the local Smoker’s Express shop and bought a can of Skoal wintergreen pouches.

This started a downward spiral for me.  I was working EMS full time, part time, and I was volunteering with the fire department and at an EMS company.  I found that it was inconvenient to have to keep a spitter with me in the ambulance.  I discovered Skoal mint snus.  You mean I can dip and not have to spit?  What’s not to love? (Or so I thought).  Being that I was used to regular pouches, I started to dip two snus pouches at a time.  There are 15 pouches in a can.  Since I would literally dip all day (at the station, on the way to calls, while with a patient, at the hospital, on the way back, etc) I’d go through two cans a day.  This went on and on.

In the meantime, I met another girl through work and we began seeing each other.  She knew my terrible habit when we got together and she told me she wished I would quit but wouldn’t force me to do so.  I eventually got my head straight and made the decision to quit on 03-02-2014.

The point I’m trying to make is this: In emergency services, nicotine is a way of life.  It’s a coping mechanism for some of the most awful things that any human being could ever see.  We deal with terrible things on a daily basis, in an effort to make a difference, so that you don’t have to.  For that tough job, we need a release.  This is why in EMTs, Paramedics, Firefighters, and Police Officers you’ll find MANY are addicting to nicotine in some form, as well as alcoholism running rampant.  I don’t believe that there’s a literal peer pressure from colleagues to use nicotine.  I think it’s a perceived pressure that to fit in, to be part of the “club”, one must use nicotine.

It’s my hope that through my quit, I can inspire others to quit as well.  I work in EMS and work closely with the fire department and police department.  I sincerely hope that somehow we can break this cycle of up-and-coming emergency service providers feeling like the only way to cope is using nicotine.  I don’t want eager, young guys and gals to think that it’s the only way.  KTC has shown me that it isn’t.