Snus Addiction: What it is and Everything You Need to Know

quit snus

My First Snus Client

It was 4 months ago that I had my first client come to me about his addiction to Snus (pronounced snooze), a form of strong tobacco that is contained inside small perforated pouches and taken orally by placing it under the top or bottom lip.

He was just a young guy in his 20’s and, being a professional footballer, was in great physical condition. However, he was also starting to realise that there was something wrong with his health as a result of continually taking Snus, and it was getting worse.

He was being woken in the middle of the night with cravings for the substance. He was losing sleep and losing the ability to think clearly. Everyday we was taking higher and higher doses of Snus in order to satisfy his cravings.

As a resilient and wealthy young man he had been able to handle these disadvantages and was also unconcerned with the warned risks of mouth cancer, increased blood pressure and heart rate. To his immediate shock and panic, however, he had become aware that the continued use of snus was having an effect on his teeth and gums, causing his gums to recede (and when this happens it is not easily fixed, often requiring surgery in order to somewhat undo the damage that has been done).

He told his colleagues and friends that he needed to find someone who could help with his addiction, who then referred him to me.

Of course my one-on-one coaching and therapy sessions are completely confidential, and while my client will remain anonymous though out this article, he was eager for me to share this story. We sat down for a private consolation and since I had never heard of the substance before, this is the background he gave me.

How Snus Effects You

In UK and European professional football circles (I’m talking about soccer, by the way, to any American readers) Snus is becoming an increasingly popular drug of choice. This is largely due to the fact that the very high nicotine content of snus gives users temporarily increased focus— obviously useful in a game of professional sports.

Because it is a nicotine product, these athletes are not being drug tested for it so there is little incentive for the current users to stop – at least in their professional lives. This is how my client was introduced to it.

When he first took it, he told me, that he experienced extreme nausea and projectile vomiting. I presume because many of his team mates were taking the drug, he persisted in taking snus until he adjusted to it and stopped experiencing these symptoms.

Initially, Snus gave him the advantage of increased focus as well as sometimes experiencing a sense of euphoria. As time went on and he continued to take snus and the benefits faded.

At the time he was not aware of the fact that snus addictive, this is not uncommon for players to be unaware of this since so many of them are taking it. He told me that one football manager was reportedly seen on sky sports with a tin of snus in his hand. The daily mail recently released a photo of Jamie Vardy, premiere league striker for Leicester, holding a tin of snus (the linked article cites the product as ‘chewing tobacco’ however, even though snus is a tobacco product, it is not the same thing as snuff, chewing or dipping tobacco). There are also goals on record that were scored while the player had several pouches of snus under his top lip!

For my client, taking snus started out as an occasional event, however it eventually escalated into a several-times-daily occurrence. He soon started to notice the effects that snus was having on him. He initially was waking up in the morning craving snus and eventually being woken in the middle of the night. It alarmed him to realise that the substance was very difficult to quit on his own.

While snus is reportedly less harmful than smoking tobacco, it has indirect effects that are far more detrimental and dangerous than cigarettes. My client began to experience sleep deprivation as a result of the poor sleep that snus was causing him.

Sleep deprivation is an incredibly insidious problem because most with sleep deprivation do not realise that they have it and so do not realise the short and long term effects that it has on their health. I guess fortunately for my client, he was continually required to perform at a high level meaning that his sleep deprivation, lethargy and increased stress levels (caused by snus) could not go undetected. His games were beginning to be effected, he was struggling to concentrate properly and (although not health related) his bank balance was absorbing a massive hit from continually purchasing it.

After my client had explained the situation to me I agreed to work with him. Having spent 17 years of consistently helping people overcome addictions (from alcohol and tobacco to food, porn, amphetamines and other drugs) I was confident that I could help him with the description that he gave me. From what he described to me I hypothesised that this was an addiction like any other, and noticing the similarities with nicotine addiction, I was confident that my protocol could help him quit snus too.

Is Snus Addictive? Health Facts

The short answer is yes. And the long answer is yes.

While there are short term benefits to taking snus, it is bad for you. I’m not saying that the substance is ‘bad’, as in ‘evil’. But it is important to know that snus has long term effects on the body such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. These on their own have massive long term effects on the body, as well as short term effects on mood and relationships.

Of course it is not my place to demonise or judge anyone for their means of coping with life or getting through the days. Frankly it doesn’t bother me what anyone does to their body; as long as they are not harming anyone else. However, I strongly believe that it is important for people to realise the consequences of their behaviour and that if they do decide to eliminate a behaviour that they do not like, that they see it through to the end, which is something that I have spent my career facilitating.

Unfortunately, most people do not realise the dangers.

As alluded to earlier, snus contains significantly higher levels of nicotine than most other nicotine products leading to its strong addictive quality. Nicotine is reportedly more difficult to quit than amphetamines.

The client I mentioned earlier told me one story of a famous footballer who used Snus to come off of cocaine. This is a classic example of swapping one addictive behaviour for another.

While snus doesn’t have the same health risks as smoking such tar in the lungs or carbon monoxide in the blood stream, it is very very important to note, and for the reader to be aware of, that certain suppliers of snus are continually making it stronger, in an effort to compete with one another. This means that the reported effects and addictive nature that the drug has today may have changed and increased in the following years or, even, months.

Snus Withdrawal Sypmtoms

The withdrawal symptoms of quitting snus can be horrific, without the correct guidance and elementary support i.e. quitting cold turkey. The symptoms range from sleep deprivation, an in-ability to sleep, extreme mood swings and panic attacks.

Nicotine causes the release of dopamine in our brain. Oversimplified, dopamine is a essentially a reward chemical; something that makes us feel good when we do something satisfying such as after sex, or take a substance or eat a big meal.

Because of it’s extremely high nicotine content snus causes a very large burst of dopamine. This explains why people repeatedly have experiences of euphoria. However, similar to nicotine from cigarette smoke reduces levels of serotonin; another brain chemical. Apart from making us feel happy, this chemical reduces the signal in our brain that says say ‘that is enough; time to stop’.  People with OCD, for example, have very low levels of serotonin. As with smoking, or snus, this leads to the nicotine trap: you take it and you feel good (because of the dopamine) but because of the reduction of serotonin there is no signal to make you stop taking it. And down the spiral goes leading to increased usage and dependence.

Snus in the UK

In a dentist appointment, following the work I did with my client, it occured to me that he might know something about snus, since it effects the gums and teeth. He had never heard of it, as was the case with myself a few weeks before, however his dental hygenist suddenly became engaged in the conversation. He came from a certain housing estate in Edinburgh and energetically told us ‘Oh yeah! All the kids down my way are taking it. There are cars that have their boots full of it. Typically you just buy it from a dealer who sell it in 10 packs; they will just come up to your door’.

While snus is currently legal in the UK, it is not massively well known. It is usually imported from countries like Sweden where it is legal and very popular (and might I add causing large scale health problems). While little known, in various social circles, professional circles and specific locations it is rife.

It is not uncommon, particularly amongst young people. Many young people will reportedly first try it on a night out but, as was the case with my client, will evolve into a pattern of behaviour where they are taking it daily.

My Client’s Simple Road to Quitting the Smokeless Tobacco

Having worked with well over 1000 people to overcome their addiction to cigarettes, I treated the case like it was a nicotine addiction. Any good hypnotherapist will typically use a combination of classic ‘trance’ hypnosis as well as waking techniques for ‘re-programming’ the brain and nervous system to break the compulsive cycle of needing to smoke. (I had to add ‘good’ hypnotherapist because unfortunately there are far too many hypnotists that are badly trained and grossly under practiced, in my opinion, but that is for another blog post!).

I was slightly different in my approach to treating his snus addiction because I also told my client to to buy certain vitamins over the few weeks that we worked together, in addition to the necessary— yet straightforward— hypnotic and therapeutic work that we did together.

I recommended Vitamin C, Vitamin b3 and Rhodiola rosea. I will briefly outline why these vitamins are useful, however for a more in-depth explanation of these supplements, as well as an insight into the simple hypnotic, therapeutic and neuro-associative techniques that we used together then check out my other blog post on How to Quit Snus.

Vitamin C in high doses strips the body of all nicotine. After 2 or 3 days of abstaining from nicotine and taking Vitamin C, you will no longer have nicotine in your bloodstream. You cannot take too much vitamin C so there is no need to worry about taking too much. Humans are one of the only animals that cannot store it, so you will just flush out, in your urine what you do not absorb.

Vitamin b3 (or niacin), has the same molecular structure of nicotine. In over simplified terms it kids on to your brain that here is still nicotine in the blood stream therefor eliminating (or at least reducing) cravings.

Rhodelo rosea was famously used in the Soviet Union to treat PTSD and was also used by astronauts to enhance concentration and deal with nerves. According to examine.com, Rhodelo Rosea is the only thing that has been medically approved for the treating of nicotine withdrawal and smoking cessation.

After two sessions of working with my advice, as well as a few short weeks to readjust and re-condition his nervous system, he felt like he had successfully quit snus and that we could conclude our sessions. He’s been off it for 4 months now, saving him allot of money but, more importantly, his sleep, his well being and his career.

Closing Thoughts

Maybe I’m wrong, but I predict that there is an epidemic on the horizon. Just do a quick google search on the large spread problems and addictions that snus is having in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.

I don’t personally believe that human beings are drastically different from country to country, and I don’t see why inhabitants in the UK should be any less affected by the addictive quality of the drug. Just as vape stores are rife in the UK, snus stores are common in the centres of most Swedish cities. Unless the government step in and change the legality of snus, I wouldn’t be surprised if we started to see a similar thing here.

If you’re someone who is new to snus and curious trying it out, I’d suggest not to bother. Do whatever you want obviously; I am a big believer in following your intuition and curiosity (and I’ve certainly spent some time in my younger years being curious about illicit substances). However if you’re drawn to something that (from what I’ve been told) causes projectile vomiting and extreme nausea on the first several you take it, just for the sake of a few short ‘highs’ that reduce in intensity each time you experience them; then this is maybe a reflection that you really do not feel particularly good in your body right now and that you could be allot happier and healthier. In which case you would be best spending your time taking care of your diet, exercising, learning new things that excite you and getting around people who are inspiring, fun or interesting. If you do this first I guarantee that you will lose any curiosity that you had for the substance, and in its place be far more enthusiastic and excited about life. And conversely, if you did become addicted to snus, I would guarantee that it will be much harder for you to live a life that you are enthusiastic and excited about (at least until you quit).

If you are someone who is looking to quit then feel free to check out this article that I wrote on what is involved in quitting snus. It will also give you some pointers on how to find a professional therapist who is best suited to your situation and needs. I personally recommend a combination of hypnosis and other ‘subconscious’ work, not just because I have a strong bias towards it, but —because it is not regulated by government institutions— the techniques have evolved and been refined RAPIDLY and DRASTICALLY. Compare this to other methods of therapy such as CBT or REBT, which are regulated and follow a specific protocol meaning that there has been little room for experimentation and progress. Hypnotherapy and other similar doctrines, when done right, are anecdotally about the fastest and more effective disciplines for creating lasting change.

My personal advice is that it is better to quit sooner rather than later because, as I mentioned earlier, the addictive nature just leads to a downward spiral that gets increasingly worse with time.

If you are curious to hear more about my insights into snus and addctions then I also invite you to have a chat with me. I work with people all over the world via skype or zoom.

You don’t have to be a professional footballer and my line is open to literally anyone. As long as you can speak English then we are good to go! Just click here to get on a free 30 minute call with me, at a time that suits you best, potentially in the next few days! You can also send me an email here.

If you’re taking snus, then i can help. Through hypnosis, NLP and everything else I know I can get fast and effective results. I have 17 years of experience and there is really not much that I haven’t seen when it comes to addictive behaviours. Everything I do is 100% confidential, and because I work hypnotically, you do not need to tell me any details of your addiction or background that you do not want to tell me. I am based in a quiet and leafy part of edinburgh and happy to work with anyone at all who is interested in making a change in their life.

Wishing you all the best,

Andy.

(Feature image for article attributed to Alekos)