Quit Smoking, the hypnotic way!

We know the reasons that people are encouraged to quit smoking be it lung health, heart health, reduce cancer risk, the list goes on. In fact, smoking has long believed to be associated with 21 common diseases. If the list was not long enough, a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, associated more diseases and causes of death with smoking. It is important to note that smokers, on average, die a decade earlier than their peers in fact, according to a recent Australian study smoking will kill two thirds of smokers. While these statistics are disturbing, often they are not the deciding factor in convincing a person to take action to quit smoking. In fact John Hughes, MD, reports that while 80 percent of smokers want to quit, less than 10 percent have plans to do so.

So why do people finally quit? From my experience, I found that people tend to quit smoking for a variety of reasons unique to them. I would like to highlight some examples from my practice.

Social stigma - not wanting to be known as a smoker is one very powerful motivator. Peer pressure might have started the habit and now it may be a powerful influencer to end it,

Cognitive dissonance is another common theme, “I live healthy”, but I smoke reconciling these two statements becomes hard to do for many of my clients, so it brings them to see me,

People do not want to have their children exposed to smoke or for them to see their parent smoking and start the habit, so they stop for the children’s health,

Of course, the encouragement from a Doctor or other health care provider to quit “or else” is very powerful, especially when a client knows that one of the best ways they can help improve their own health, quality of life and surgical outcomes is to stop smoking,

Also, when they start feeling the impacts on their health, they realise that the health warnings are all too true. In fact, some research suggests that a powerful motivator is cold hard facts, for example testing the lung functioning can make a person realize that the smoking is directly impacting them, and

Outside programs such as the March “Driven to Win” initiative by the Canadian Cancer Society is another great initiative to get people motivated, to think about ways to go smoke free and to share resources.

Of course, finding the right motivator for quitting is the key to finally having success. Given this information, what motivator would be most important for you to make a life change?

Hypnosis offers extra support when a person has found the right motivation or can help the person find their motivation. Hypnotherapy sessions offer a judgement free atmosphere for a client to discuss their smoking habits, to verbalize their goals and to commit to taking the actions required to be smoke-free. It is well known that a goal is easier to reach, once it has been clearly defined and the benefits of reaching that goal become more tangible. This is where visualization during hypnosis can help based on the stated goals, the hypnotist creates a new reality that is more desirable for the client and this increases their motivation to succeed.

The hypnotist may also teach other techniques, tailored to the needs of the client, such as:

1. self-calming techniques, including mindfulness (a lot of clients smoke due to anxiety or to regulate other emotions),

    1. habit control (if we are removing a habit, we replace it with healthier choices),
    2. how to cope with withdrawal symptoms (many clients state that they do not experience any at all),
    3. how to avoid gaining weight (a very common fear for clients), and
    4. recognizing triggers (cues that puts the person at risk for relapse).

These skills are easy to generalize to other areas of the clients’ life, for instance, everyone could benefit from learning how to better manage stress. So not only does the client gain all of the advantages of better health, they also learn new essential skills for coping with whatever life throws their way.

I would like to leave you with food for thought, if smoking was just an addiction and we know that nicotine is expelled from the body, on average after 2-4 days, then why do people return to smoking months or years later? Hypnosis teaches the skills to help cope with the mental component of smoking. Doesn’t hypnosis sound like an interesting option for quitting old habits?

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