Children learn from their heroes, and for decades, young people have grown up watching major sports stars like Ty Cobb, Lenny Dykstra, and Jeff Bagwell all use smokeless tobacco. In fact, approximately 50 percent of those in professional sports used smokeless tobacco in 1992. Today, our sports heroes are beginning to learn of the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco. Quitting, however, is much harder than people realize. Lenny Dykstra, for example, often referred to as “Nails” because of his toughness, found that quitting smokeless tobacco was much harder than he ever could have imagined.
Smokeless tobacco is much more addictive than most people realize. This substance, when used for only half an hour, can provide the same amount of nicotine as four cigarettes. Nicotine, the primary ingredient that causes a physical addiction to tobacco, creates as powerful an addiction for users as either cocaine or heroin. The majority of people addicted to smokeless tobacco use it to relax and cope with stressful situations.
Additionally, the use of smokeless tobacco can be even more addictive than cigarette smoking. This is because the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. Nicotine is transferred into the bloodstream much more rapidly and completely than when it is inhaled through the lungs.
People who use smokeless tobacco, also known as “dip” or “snuff”, place it between their cheek and their gum and hold it in place. Almost one-tenth of the adults currently living in the United States use smokeless tobacco. This incidence is much higher among younger people, however. For example, approximately 15 percent of the male high school students surveyed reported using smokeless tobacco in the month prior to the survey. Nearly two percent of female high school students admitted its use.
Teens and smokeless tobacco are a dangerous combination. Numerous people, including famous sports star Rick Bender; have been diagnosed with throat and mouth cancer within only ten to fifteen years of using this product. Furthermore, the single most important risk factor in developing this type of cancer is the use of smokeless tobacco.
Oral cancer from smokeless tobacco is disfiguring and very difficult to treat. The mouth and throat have an excellent blood supply. This allows the cancer cells to travel rapidly to other parts of the body.
Child use of smokeless tobacco also occurs more frequently than most people realize. Indeed, the average starting age for smokeless tobacco users is ten years of age. Many adults view it as harmless and allow their children to take part in their tobacco addiction ritual.
Alternatively, some adults, such as Sean Marsee’s mother, are unable to convince their children how dangerous smokeless tobacco can be. This young man was a very tragic example of a child who started using snuff at age twelve. After many extensive neck, tongue, and mouth surgeries, he died of cancer at age 19.
Like cigarette smoking, addiction to smokeless tobacco contains both a physical and a psychological element. Although the physical addiction component is profoundly strong, the body actually withdraws from and no longer “needs” the nicotine within a week to ten days of the person’s decision to quit. Most tobacco quitting programs focus on helping a person to quit consciously.
Unfortunately, however, 90 percent of a person’s tobacco dependency is psychological in nature. The psychological aspect is complicated. This part explains why people use tobacco to cope with stress, as well as the use of this product in combination with other activities, as a type of ritualistic behavior.
Most programs do not teach a person how to quit smokeless tobacco from this perspective. This is why most quitting programs are so dismally ineffective, with effectiveness results of 21 percent or less. They do not help users to focus on the root of the problem; they only treat the symptoms.
Two alternative tobacco cessation programs are almost three times more effective than traditional cessation programs because they focus on the problem at an unconscious level. Hypnotherapy, for example can be very helpful for people who are very suggestible or who do not think critically about problem situations. Trained hypnotherapists can assist these people to stop using smokeless tobacco by offering suggestions that help make the person more relaxed, while suggesting that smokeless tobacco is repulsive to the former user.
For persons who think critically or are less suggestive, Ericksonian hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) are effective methods of assisting a person to quit using smokeless tobacco. NLP practitioners can coach clients to use mental exercises such as the Flash technique to relax and automatically exchange stressful thoughts and emotions for those that are relaxing and comforting. This helps with the first part of the psychological component.
NLP and Ericksonian hypnosis also helps people to disassociate activities such as reading, watching television, or playing sports from the use of smokeless tobacco. By dealing with the mental aspects of the habit, which make up about 90% of the addiction, these programs help make it much easier to overcome the physical component of the addiction as well. Therefore, people are motivated not only to quit but also tend to stay quit.
Summary: Smokeless tobacco is a deadly form of nicotine addiction that results in high rates of oral cancer. The use of this substance is the foremost cause of oral cancer. People, on average, begin using smokeless tobacco at ten years of age. Therefore, finding successful ways to quit using this deadly product is critical to the lives and health of young people worldwide. NLP and Ericksonian hypnosis are much more effective than traditional tobacco cessation programs in helping to achieve this goal.