How to hack your brain into quitting chewing tobacco
May 30th 2018

How to hack your brain into quitting chewing tobacco

What if we told you we could predict how you spend about half your time? We’d guess roughly half of it is spent doing the same thing, that is to say, doing something that is a habit. Have you ever had a class with unassigned seats and found yourself sitting in the same spot every day anyways? How about your drive home from work? Do you use Google Maps to find the route with the least traffic today or do you take the same route you take every day without checking? Maybe you get home and barely remember the drive, like you were on autopilot.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “humans are creatures of habit” but when researchers set out to study this, the results were astounding – with one study finding 47 percent of human behavior could be classified as habitual.

What does this have to do with chewing tobacco? Millions of people around the world struggle with an addiction to smokeless tobacco, as many as 8.7 million in the United States alone, and about half of them report attempting to quit. However, there are two main factors that make giving up tobacco dip difficult. One is the addictive properties of tobacco products and the other, which most people underestimate, is the habit of using chewing tobacco, dip or any form of smokeless tobacco.

Most people understand why addictive substances are so hard to quit. We won’t bore you with all the science of addiction and how it is tricking your brain. But we will try to help explain why habits have so much control over our lives and how you can use that to actually help you stop chewing tobacco once and for all.

There’s a concept called a “habit loop” that helps explain how habits are formed and reinforced. It basically looks like this:

  • Cue/Trigger: Something that triggers a habit
  • Behavior: The habit itself
  • Reward: The reason your brain sees the previous as valuable

Here’s an example you may be familiar with, your daily coffee routine. The “cue/trigger” would be a certain time of the day. For some people, it’s as soon as they get to the office. Once they get to their desk and log on, they head to the break room for that first cup of coffee. The “behavior” in this case would be heading to the break room for a cup of coffee or some other caffeine. And the “reward” is the dopamine (the brain’s reward chemical) that caffeine releases in our brains.

What does this mean if you have been using tobacco chew? You may be able to use this framework to identify what is triggering your habit. Is it stress? Is it certain times of the day? Is it a social activity? Understanding what is triggering a tobacco product craving is a powerful step to overcoming those cravings. But what’s next? You’ve identified what is triggering a craving, what do you do about it?

Well, the obvious but often inconvenient answer is avoiding those triggers. Since a trigger could be as mundane as a time of day, that is not always an option. So, what many behavioral experts will recommend is replacing the habit. This is where Java Chews coffee pouches can help. Rather than rewriting your entire routine to avoid any triggers you can, and counting on sheer will power to overcome the ones you can’t, you can change the behavior step in the habit loop. Next time you have a craving for chewing tobacco, try using a chew alternative like coffee dip or coffee chew instead.

While there are many non-tobacco dip alternatives on the market, which replace the behavior step, coffee dip pouches are particularly effective. This is because fake dip without caffeine may only replace step two of the habit loop, however, caffeine dips replace steps two and three. As I mentioned in the example, caffeine releases dopamine in your brain. This means if you want to effectively hack your brain into thinking the habit it wants to enforce is still in place, you can do so by using a coffee-based chewing tobacco substitute.

Even with Java Chews, changing a habit will be hard. But we want you to know we are here to help. If you try Java Chews please share your story with us. Let us know how what worked best for you or what the hardest part about quitting a smokeless tobacco habit was so we can help other people going through the same thing. You can contact us here or share your story on social via Facebook or Twitter. We hope we can help and that we hear from you soon!

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