When other methods have failed, does hypnosis work for quitting smoking?
When people have a desire to give up this habit which can potentially devastate their health, why do they struggle with putting away the cigarettes for good?
While I’m not a medical doctor, it’s been my experience, with the large number of clients I see for smoking, that they are addicted to a habit and daily ritual, versus nicotine dependency.
It’s eye-opening to most of my clients that, according to the Centers For Disease Control, in just three days after quitting, all the nicotine is gone from the bloodstream. What does that mean? It means all that’s left are the tired old triggers and routines associated with the former habit.
That’s why I focus on behavioral change using hypnosis to cement my clients’ stop smoking goals.
To that end, in almost a decade of working with smokers, it’s always been interesting that I just don’t see clients coming in for their follow up appointment complaining of significant withdrawal symptoms which could be associated with nicotine. In fact, most mention no withdrawal symptoms. Now, I make this observation based on the shared experiences from clients just days after quitting. I am not a medical provider so I simply take them at their word that there were no jitters or significant agitation upon quitting.
That’s not to say that a number of clients experience absolutely no unwanted sensations upon quitting. Some do report the occasional thought of missing cigarettes. Some do report slight agitation but I’d say their descriptions are more of being in a mild “bad mood” for the first day or so upon quitting.
But here’s the good news. As part of the Quit Success(™) program to quit smoking with hypnosis, I teach my clients an elegant technique to turn down the intensity of any unwanted emotions or sensations they may have as they begin to enjoy life as a non-smoker. This brief, self-administered technique, puts them back in control of their feelings and emotions which clients report as very empowering.
If I had a dollar for every time a client comes in and tells me, “You’re my last hope” for quitting smoking, I’d be very rich. So why does hypnosis work for quitting smoking with clients who have in many cases tried everything else out there to quit? Well, when you think about the habit, the reaching for a cigarette, often without a conscious thought, it supports the theory that this habit is embedded in the unconscious part of the mind.
This may explain why many of the conscious quit smoking classes are helpful but may not address the habit where it lies. When you use hypnosis to quit smoking, you’re addressing the real problem, which is the unconscious habit. The beauty of hypnosis is the ability to tap into the unconscious mind to make powerful and lasting change. Without that phenomenon, hypnosis would be useful for little more than profound relaxation. As a result of this change at the unconscious level, my clients often report how easy it was for them to quit, even 70-year-old clients who have been smoking for 50 years or more!
So, the answer to the question, does hypnosis work for quitting smoking is YES, and the research supports it. But as effective as hypnosis is for change, perhaps the key component is the client’s desire to make the change. While extremely effective for highly motivated clients, hypnosis isn’t magic. I can’t wave my hands and change a smoker, with no desire to quit, into a non-smoker. But for those who have reached a threshold where they are really ready to quit this time, perhaps hypnosis offers the best solution for lasting change.