Nobody likes a quitter

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Brian Hornback
  • 509th Bomb Wing command chief master sergeant
That used to be a favorite saying of mine for years. I used "Nobody likes a quitter!" in reference to my chewing tobacco use.
I chewed tobacco more than 18 years, beginning at the ripe old age of 14. I tried several times to quit over the years, but they all failed due to several reasons: 1) I was never really ready, 2) I didn't build a support network to help and 3) I tried to do it on my own.

I think the third reason is the real reason I failed in those many attempts and I would just explain it away as "nobody likes a quitter!"

Several years ago, after the birth of my third daughter, I began to realize that I was getting older. And at that moment I made a commitment to myself; to not do anything that would aide in my untimely demise.

I have spent over half my life in the military and am looking forward to enjoying the retirement I worked so hard for, and also enjoy growing old with wife and family and chewing tobacco could definitely hamper meeting those goals.

I made my way into the health and wellness center to sign up for the tobacco cessation class and learned some very surprising details about my addiction.

Yes, I said addiction! Nicotine is an addicting drug. In fact, a can of chew has the same amount of nicotine as four packs of cigarettes. Four times as much, no wonder I couldn't kick the habit - I was hooked.

My tobacco use had become a "lifestyle" and as a result included behavioral, psychological, social and environmental elements. Wow, and I thought I was just too weak to quit on my own. I learned that each of these should be addressed when considering quitting, reducing the risk of relapse and living a tobacco free lifestyle.

I also learned that "quitting is a process ... not an event." Most people who quit the first time relapse. The majority of people quit five - seven times before they are able to quit for good and live a tobacco free lifestyle. Approximately 80 percent of the quitters relapse within the first year.

With this in mind, I understood that relapse is part of the process. I had finally, with the support of my family and tobacco replacement therapy offered by the HAWC, kicked the tobacco habit.

I lived a tobacco free lifestyle more than two years until 2006. I had a significant event in my life occur and I fell back into what had comforted me in the past - tobacco. I had relapsed and felt like a failure.

The part that disappointed me most was the event had past and I had just used it to cave to a craving - tobacco had a grasp on me again. However, I remembered what I had learned in the tobacco cessation class: Quitting is a process and relapse is part of that process.

So now I begin this process once more. I started my tobacco free lifestyle once more Oct. 21, and still struggle to fight those cravings off. This time however, my support function is more in-depth as is my determination to quit for good.

The Great American Smoke out is set for Nov. 15 and I challenge all of Team Whiteman to join me in committing to a tobacco free lifestyle. Tobacco cessations programs are coordinated by the HAWC to provide you with the behavioral support, and with tobacco cessation medications; provide you with the best chance for success. Not being able to quit on your own does not mean you're weak, it means you're human.

Nobody likes a quitter but everyone loves a winner. Quitting in this case makes you a winner and with 31 percent of Team Whiteman or more than 1,000 tobacco users; 6 percent of those use smokeless tobacco or chew and 23 percent smoke.

We need more quitters on this team. Team Whiteman, are you up to the challenge?