Quitting Smoking... The Reality

Smoking is addictive; every smoker knows this. Smoking is very hard to quit; every smoker knows this as well. Smoking is more addictive than heroin or cocaine; another widely known fact….and all of this is either outright rubbish or an over-exaggeration that has cost literally millions to propagate. All thanks to people or parties that have a vested interest in seeing smokers continue to smoke. Let’s examine some of the keys realities that can (and have) been used to psychologically convince people that smoking is too hard to quit!

Firstly, “smoking is more addictive than heroin or cocaine”. This was determined by some very notable and well respected scientists quite a number of years ago. No reason to doubt this at all.  However, this reality has to be read and accepted in light of the fact that nicotine (the only addictive element of cigarettes) is a very, VERY, mild drug for the body to deal with, rid itself of and overcome. What I mean by this is that we have all seen documentaries or dramas depicting people going Cold Turkey from cocaine or heroin. Typically you see these people:

  • laying in the foetal position shaking uncontrollably,
  • Weeping, screaming and crying in pain,
  • Shaking uncontrollably,
  • Tearing their hair or scratching their skin,
  • Hallucinating, bad-dreams, nightmares,
  • Self-harming or damaging property, walls etc.

These are the things that cocaine and heroin cause when someone ceases taking them. By contrast, the greater majority of smokers who cease and go Cold Turkey, report the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • grumpy,
  • Feel a bit at a loss,
  • Don’t know what to do with my hands,
  • Feel frustrated sometimes,
  • Snap at people that are near or dear to me.

Indeed, I have never heard of anyone complaining that when they stopped smoking cigarettes or ingesting nicotine, they experienced laying in the foetal position shaking uncontrollably, weeping, screaming and crying in pain, shaking uncontrollably, tearing their hair or scratching their skin, hallucinating, bad-dreams, nightmares, self-harming or damaging property, walls etc. Have you?

This is because nicotine is a very mild drug for the body to deal with. It is true, a chemical dependency on nicotine is established quicker than cocaine or heroin but nicotine doesn’t impact on the body anywhere nearly as badly as the hard-drugs.

In fact: www.ihealthblogger.com states:

“How Long Does Nicotine Stay in your Blood

Nicotine is metabolised into cotinine, which then admixes with blood. Liver detoxification then takes place, facilitating removal of toxins from the blood. This process is slow in comparison to the removal of waste products by the kidney in form of urine, which takes place at a faster rate.

In these blood tests, nicotine is visible usually 1 to 3 days after last use of a nicotine-containing product, such as cigarettes, smokeless tobacco (snuff), and nicotine patches or gum. This may also vary in lieu of the amount of nicotine use, and the individual’s health and age. “

See: http://www.ihealthblogger.com/2013/05/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-you...

This is supported by a huge amount of research available on the net - google it sometime!

Consequently, absolute worst-case scenario...3 days after quitting cigarettes, the individual is no longer chemically addicted to smoking. (Confronting isn’t it?)  More so, when you consider that what it actually means is that for a maximum of three days a person quitting smoking needs to be able to put up with:

  • Being grumpy,
  • Feel a bit at a loss,
  • Don’t know what to do with their hands,
  • Feel frustrated sometimes,
  • Snap at people that are near or dear to them.

Makes it sound very simple doesn’t it….it’s NOT - don’t get me wrong. All of the above is correct and true, but there is also a psychological aspect to smoking and it is THIS aspect that makes quitting difficult. If it was only the nicotine addiction, then stop smokers would only need to put on patches, use lozenges, Champix, chewing gum etc for a maximum of 3 days! They are not, they are put on these things for 12-15 weeks wholly and solely to try to retrain the subconscious mind to forget about smoking. Compare 3 days to 12-15 weeks and you determine which is the more invasive and impacting element of stopping smoking!

All of the standard methods of quit smoking aids, incorporate some form or nicotine replacement - something that is needed for a maximum of 3 days only. The only method that addresses the psychological aspect of smoking is hypnotherapy (though there are some counselling methods as well).

Big Tobacco has spent millions (and millions and millions) convincing us that nicotine is fantastically addictive and that quitting smoking is next to impossible - we have succumbed to the onslaught of advertising and information promulgated by tobacco and believe the propaganda. This makes it difficult to quit on a number of levels…

1.It establishes a fear in our mind about taking nicotine away from us

2.It creates a feeling of anxiety when we think about quitting and that keeps smokers purchasing the next packet of cigarettes

3.Due to all of the above, when a person quits and experiences the typical withdrawal symptoms mentioned earlier on, the mind establishes a fear-based-belief that this will remain for the rest of life.

4.The prominence of cigarettes means that they are constantly ‘in the quitters face’, constantly reminding him/her that cigs are legal, available, easy etc… (walk outside of just about any public building and you have to navigate through smokers and smoke haze/smell).

If we can remove these 4 preceding beliefs/errors, then all we are really addressing is a very mild 3-day addiction! Simple hey? I really don’t want to over-simplify this though - but the reality is that it is not has hard, difficult, impossible or complex as we have been let to believe.

Have a look at the information at this link: http://www.professionalhypnotherapists.com.au/articles/what-are-statisti...

Therefore, I can state with absolute conviction that clinical hypnotherapy can be extremely beneficial when applied correctly to quitting smoking (and many other things as well). The key there is ‘when applied correctly’. The truth of the matter is that there are many forms of hypnosis/hypnotherapy being practiced. Some of these are focussed on using catchphrases and buzzwords that really are not terribly helpful at all. This should not be viewed as a criticism of the people practicing these methods; they are doing it for all the right reasons, just not with all the right information/understandings. Things like, Neurolinguistic Programmings (NLP), Guided Visualised Imaging, Emotional Freedom Technique, Theta Healing, etc. are offshoots of traditional hypnosis. I could go on for almost an eternity as to why these offshoots have come-about, but I won’t.  In my humble opinion, traditional hypnosis/hypnotherapy is the only state that achieves a deep enough level of trance to positively engage the subconscious mind to bring about the changes being sought. There is also a ‘production line type method’ out there called “Quit Smoking in 60 Minutes Guaranteed” or similar names. They promote their practitioners as ‘CERTIFIED QUIT SMOKING EXPERTS/HYPNOTISTS/THERAPISTS” - beware, there is NO SUCH THING as a certified quit smoking expert. What it means is they are certified by the company they have paid money to to do the training course. When it comes to any form of guarantee associated with quit smoking or any other hypnotherapy, keep in mind what I say on my website: http://www.mindelevation.com.au/Mind_Elevation/Guarantee.html :

"you should know that the only guarantee I provide is a guarantee to never offer a guarantee. Hopefully you will also understand my reasoning and rationale for this position.  I have no interest in using catchphrases, buzzwords or advertising hype to attract clients. Instead, I prefer to provide professional, appropriate, personalised hypnotherapy services to address the issue and help the person fix it, permanently and in the most expeditious manner!"

Cathy Barrow (not verified)
Anonymous's picture
Friday, April 22, 2016 - 21:29

Michael do you think your comments are supportive of those of us who do offer that service and have obtained our goverment accredited training as a hypnotherapist and diploma , life coaching etc
Yes I was dubious in the first instance about the Quit Smoking in 60 minutes method. And the guarantee
Now after employing this method and other strategies for around 70 Quit Smokers in the last 16 months - I pride myself on the fact that yes they can come back if they smoke again and they do - we may have missed a trigger - we do it until they are successful and it gives them the best chance of succeeding
So I explain the guarantee to my clients like that - that I have their back and I will never quit on them
A lot of my clients go to a hypnotherapist and pay and then smoke again and have to pay again- they only pay once. I also help them with anxiety which most smokers have and rather then think of the guarantee as being a fall back position, I explain it as rather like an exam you may fail and you just get back on the horse and do it again. As we know it can take up to 7 times for someone to quoit smoking and if 2 or 3 of those times are with me - dosent matter as long as they are successful in the end. I rarely get someone 3 times . So you are entitled to your opinion, however as I said it would be beneficial to all of us practicing with the best intentions to support each other, rather than denigrating people's methods
Cathy Barrow cathybarrowhypnosis.

Michael Werts
Michael Werts's picture
Friday, April 22, 2016 - 21:47

Hello Cathy and thank you for the comment. Your feedback is appreciated however I stand by the points that I have made. I feel that, telling someone that it is ok to come back multiple times fails to engage the client's own responsibility in all of this. It is undoubtedly 'comfortable' for the practitioner to be easy however I also don't feel that is always in the best interest of the client. As I say, buzzwords might sound good but they are rarely as effective as they sound.

cathy (not verified)
Anonymous's picture
Friday, April 22, 2016 - 22:05

Thanks Michael to clarify I do not focus on telling the client they can return multiple times - as I want that first time to be as successful as they do I just wanted to explain the guarantee as such to you and ethically I need to explain that briefly to my clients. Even though I work with a pre populated script - I will tweak it and tailor it for every client. I do use rapid inductions and mix it up - I loved doing my diploma with Rick and respect the true hypnotic methods. I'm still learning and relatively new 2.5 years however still learning and I do have the very best intentions for my clients and put 100 percent effort into my sessions - I am always in awe of when a client succeeds with their goals by using hypnosis whether it be to quit smoking or for anxiety. Anyhow thanks for publishing my comments - a robust discussion is always useful.

Michael Werts
Michael Werts's picture
Friday, April 22, 2016 - 22:19

Thanks again for your comment Cathy and it was a pleasure to receive your comment. I as most pleased to approve and publish! smiley  You've commented about being relatively new. Please continue to contribute... I have said in several forums that neither Rick nor I believe that anyone is too 'new' to teach us something.  Everyone that comes to hypnosis brings with them their individual life's experience and these can be of great benefit to the practitioner but also to the profession so, personally, I value everyone's contribution. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Werts

Michael is a qualified hypnotist and, along with his wife, initially operated a busy clinical hypnotherapy practice in Joondalup WA.

OTHER ARTICLES BY THIS MEMBER

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TAHA makes regular donations to the Cambodian Children's Trust Charity (CCT).