The Smoking is both habitual and chemically addictive, and the relative degree of chemical addiction or habitual dependency varies from individual to individual. Regardless of whether the habit is more habitual or additive, or both equally, hypnosis can be highly effective in helping smokers to become nonsmokers.
Since there are both behavioral and addictive aspects to the cigarette habit I recommend that, with physician approval, hypnotherapy for smoking cessation be used in conjunction with nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as the patch, gum or lozenges or with other medications that the physician may prescribe. Hypnotherapy to help modify behaviors associated with the smoking habit and to ease nicotine withdrawal used in combination with NRT or prescribed medications is generally a more effective approach. Having said that, some clients (especially those who smoke less than half a pack per day) choose to use hypnotherapy alone and have been successful but the combination approach is an option that should be considered by anyone using hypnotherapy to quit smoking.
Cigarette smokers tend to smoke in predictable situations. They may smoke while having having meals, drinking cocktails, during work breaks, while he is engaging in social conversation, while driving, while under stress, after dinner, before dinner…….. Depending upon how severe a person’s habit is the smoking is enmeshed in a wide range of everyday activities. Particular factors associated with these activities function as “triggers” that set in motion a chain of stimulus-response conditions which seemingly compel smokers to light up a cigarette. The stimulus is the external or internal cause of the reaction, while the mental conditioning is what we would normal refer to as the habit or habitual response. A smoker sees a friend and strikes up a conversation, and before he gets much further than “Hey, how ya been doing” he is lighting up. Much the same with stress. The smoker is under pressure to meet a deadline at work and without thinking he lights up a cigarette or is going to the smoking area to do so. Hypnotherapy can interfere and interrupt the habitual sequence by working with the subconscious mind to modify cravings while simultaneously implanting suggestions of alternative and substitute forms of behavior. The simple suggestion of breathing deeply and enjoying the feeling of filling the lungs with fresh air without coughing, or of redirecting the minds attention to some pleasing memory or activity, or of perhaps substituting a piece of gum or hard candy, to name only a few are the sorts of alternative behavior patterns than can interrupt the non-thinking pattern of reaching for a smoke. I also carefully employ what is sometimes called “aversion therapy.” Although frowned upon by some hypnotherapists, I have found that when used with discrimination and care negative suggestions concerning the taste, smell and appeal of cigarettes can be highly effective. I always obtain the prior consent of my client before using any aversion therapy in my practice.
My smoking cessation program combines suggestions encouraging an immediate and complete stop to smoking with a simultaneous option of phasing out cigarettes more gradually. The abrupt cessation of the cigarette habit works for some people but not for all. By allowing the client the alternative of a gradual but steady reduction of the habit s/he is given the maximum opportunity to succeed. Using hypnotherapy to quit smoking can and very often does work!