Angry, Unfocused, and Constipated: 5 Days into Quitting Copenhagen

Handling insurgents and enjoying a fat lip.


By Charlie Bausman


Five days without Copenhagen Wintergreen and my desire to physically assault innocent bystanders has increased exponentially.

My jaw tingles, even as I pound through nicotine gum. I am frustrated by the smallest setbacks and can feel my temper rise up from my chest to my throat. I haven’t crapped in three days.

I want …  need … would kill for a big pinch of Copenhagen. I’m so desperate, I’d even settle for some Skoal.

Why quit?

It’s not because I don’t enjoy dipping. It’s about diapers.

My girlfriend and I recently found out that we’ll be having a baby and I started researching the associated costs of a little human.

Babies ain’t cheap.

The average cost of baby clothes is $60/month in the first year. Supposedly, a child will use more than 2,700 diapers in the first year alone, adding up to approximately $550. Those two totaled = $1,270/year. That’s just the beginning of the financial consequences of bringing a kid into the world.

A can of dip costs me around $3.75 here in Wyoming. At one can/day (3.75 x 365), I’m spending $1,368.75 annually on my fat lip habit.

Copenhagen vs. Diapers.  Diapers win.


Tobacco as an Institution in the Military

I started using chewing tobacco occasionally in high school, then increased a bit in college, and then set new tobacco land speed records when I entered the Marines.

Very few things are as welcome as a fat lip when you’re in the field living out of a fighting hole for two weeks. Dip can help keep you awake, stave off hunger, and kill off boredom. I’m fairly certain every fond memory I have of my time in the Marines had dip involved.

Tobacco is a semi-official institution in the infantry. I once witnessed a Marine trade his last MRE (the entire thing) for a single can of Copenhagen.

We still had another day in the field.

You should’ve seen the Marines mobbing the PX truck that dodged IED’s en route from the big FOB to our outpost in the middle-of-nowhere, Afghanistan, to score a couple cans of dip. It’s oddly familiar of the liberation parades in France towards the end of World War II.

The powers that be will even fly the stuff in; stacks of Copenhagen logs right next to crates of pre-workout and energy drinks. Only the necessities for our boys.

A man-tracking instructor who worked extensively on the border areas chasing smugglers once told me that when training with military personnel, Marines are the easiest to find. A squad leaves a squad-sized trail of dip spit to follow like Hansel and Gretel and their bread crumbs.

Dip is a way of life in the Marines, at least for the Infantry.


Quitting Symptoms

One of our athletes here in Jackson is an addiction counselor. He helps folks dealing with life-altering habits… painkillers, amphetamines, alcohol, etc. I asked him how long I would be dealing with some of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

He casually responded, “about a month.”


According to, the first week after stopping tobacco use consists of the “Acute Phase.” Let’s take a look at the symptoms and if I have any of them.

  • Cravings – Definitely
  • Low Energy – Yep
  • Irritation – Bingo
  • Reduced Mental Function – No doubt. I haven’t been nearly as productive this week as I normally am.

Perfect … batting a thousand so far. Let’s take a look at what I have to look forward to in the next month.

  • Fatigue: Low energy levels for 2-4 weeks
  • Increased Appetite: 2-4 weeks
  • Upset stomach: Heartburn, nausea, stomach pain, and constipation for 2-4 weeks.
  • Cough/Mucus: Increased to the 2-3 week mark

Sounds fun.


Tools for Quitting

I’m finding that I’m having two distinct cravings. One is the nicotine cravings that make me irritable as hell. To combat this, I’m chewing on nicotine gum through much of the day. It has softened the cravings, although the first few days were still brutal.

The second craving is related to the triggers to put something in my lower lip. Anytime after a meal, my jaw starts twitching. Sitting at my desk or getting into my truck for more than five minutes and I’m itching to grab my can. My post-coffee craving in the morning is probably the worst.

The list goes on.

To mitigate these triggers, I’m chewing on sunflower seeds and regular chewing gum at the cyclic rate. It sure doesn’t taste as good, but it keeps my mind from completely tweaking. These methods have worked so far, and each passing day becomes a bit easier.

Rob has decided it would be entertaining to record the trials and tribulations of quitting by publishing my hate and discontent. Hopefully, you’re looking forward to reading of my misery and complaining for the next few weeks.

Throw a fatty in for me and enjoy.

To be continued….

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