Mendez quits his addiction after receiving unsettling news

When senior Ben Mendez walked into the QT on Jungermann and McClay late at night on Monday Nov 29, his mind was racing

I can’t take this can, I can’t do it.

Ben, who is 18, was asked earlier by his twin brother Andrew Mendez to buy a can of dip for him. Andrew had misplaced his license and couldn’t buy a can for himself, so it was Ben who wound up at the gas station that night to make the purchase.

I’ve gone this far, I can’t do it.

If Andrew had asked Ben any other week before that Monday, this request would have been no problem. But when you’re like Ben and you’re in relapse from a nicotine addiction, any exposure to nicotine can send off instant cravings. When you’re like Ben and you’re beginning your second week of quitting -the time when symptoms are usually starting to get the strongest- those cravings are hitting you harder than ever.
When your like Ben and you’re about to purchase your 18-month-old former habit
but not use it, this request is a problem.

“That was so hard,” Ben said. “I was going through all of the motions I used
to do.”

Moments like this have been an everyday occurrence for the senior in the
past three weeks, but he says that they are getting easier to handle each day he doesn’t use. On November 22, Ben, who had been an everyday user for a year and a half, quit using smokeless tobacco.

When Ben firs started out dipping, he was only an occasional user. However
as time went by, the number of times he dipped a week went up until one day he found he couldn’t go an entire day without putting a lip in.

“I just thought I was one of those people who thought I could never get addicted to it,” Ben said. “But I woke up one day and I was.” When he did dip, Ben used Grizzly Wintergreen, which has one of the highest levels of nicotine per can. Ben would always dip after school, and whenever he was in his car. Eventually he was going through a can a day, and spending over $20 on his habit. When he went to his oral hygienist for a regular checkup, he was told that he had an advanced form of gum disease, which can lead to cancer. It was for this reason that Ben decided to quit.

“I think it’s definitely a good sign [that he quit],” Andrew, who dips himself, said. “I think it was a good reality check for him.”

Finding out that he had gum disease wasn’t the only reason Ben quit dipping. With plans to go into the Air Force next year, where any form of tobacco is not allowed, Ben would have been forced to stop then.

“I’m really glad I’m doing this now,” Ben said. “Because having to go through basic [Training] while going through this would have been absolutely terrible.”

seeds and gum as substitutes. He has been chewing a heavy version of Trident wintergreen, which has the same taste as the Grizzly dip he used. Even so, quitting still hasn’t been an easy task. He has experienced physical cravings, irritability and mild depression. Having his brother continue to dip around him hasn’t helped either. But Ben thinks he has beaten the worst of his addiction.

“I realized I don’t need to rely on a crutch anymore,” Ben said. “And that’s how I beat my addiction to nicotine.”

Just a few days ago, Ben went to a dentist for a second opinion on his mouth. There, he was told that he only had gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, and that it was something that could easily be reversible.

“I’m a little annoyed but I’m more thankful,” Ben said. “Even though I was given false information, it gave me the motivation I needed to quit.”

In the future, Ben knows that just one use of tobacco can get him right back where he started, but he

Logan Ponche