Breaking Free: Using Hypnosis to Stop Smoking

According to the Center for Disease Control (2000), it is estimated that 25% of men and 21% of women over the age of 18 smoke cigarettes in the US. Seventy percent of the smokers indicated an interest in quitting and many have attempted to quit in the past or are currently in the process of quitting. It seems that people are aware of the messages regarding the health hazards of smoking and are striving to kick the habit, however many seem to have a hard time doing it. It is indisputable that the benefits of being a non smoker are many and that smokers know that quitting is beneficial, so why is it so hard to quit? Cigarette smoking can create a physical as well as psychological dependence and both dependencies need to be addressed in order for the individual to give up the cigarettes. The focus of many smoking cessation interventions are pharmacological which target the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal or serve as substitutes for nicotine. Addressing the physical dependence can be effective in the short term, however unless the psychological or unconscious reasons for an individual’s smoking habit are addressed, this solution may be temporary or ineffective. Nicotine can serve as both a stimulant causing a pleasant buzz as well as a sedative creating a calming or soothing effect, making it a mind/mood altering experience, which has cognitive or emotional triggers. Certain life situations which are “eased” by the cigarettes in some way create a psychological dependence on the cigarette which may be conscious as well as unconscious. For some people cigarette smoking may create the effect of a temporary “high”, for others it may reduce stress or anxiety, while for someone else smoking may help with focusing on a task. So what does it take to finally break free from this unhealthy habit ?

Smokers as well as non-smokers know that it often takes more than will power, a New Years resolution or guilt to get a smoker to quit. Many need assistance, which can come in the form of support from friends and loved ones as well as additional interventions such as hypnosis. For decades now, hypnosis has been used as an effective technique to help smokers stop smoking cigarettes. Hypnosis works on an individuals’ subconscious level and helps reprogram some of the physical and emotional associations that smokers have to cigarettes. In addition, hypnosis helps with addressing the emotional or psychological forces underlying smoking by addressing, issues such as stress, anxiety, feelings of loneliness or emptiness, or the habitual nature of the behavior itself. Hypnosis harnesses the power of the mind by creating positive suggestions for new and healthier habits to replace the cigarette smoking. This is done in a deeply relaxed state where access to the subconscious mind is possible and where the mind is open to suggestions and change. How could hypnosis help ? Hypnosis works with changing the automatic responses to familiar stimuli that in the past lead to smoking cigarettes and replacing them with other healthier associations to change the conditioned response. For example someone who smokes before a presentation at work may use cigarettes to create a calming effect before an anxiety-provoking situation. Hypnosis techniques can allow the individual to use the power of their own mind to address this anxiety and feel confident and calm before and during the presentation without the cigarettes. Another example of a hypnosis technique might be making suggestions that an individual drink water or take deep breaths instead of smoking a cigarette and get the same positive effects they perceived to have gotten from smoking. What would it feel like to finally be free of smoking? Close your eyes and imagine it for a moment. Bring up the feelings of success and personal power as well as freedom that breaking free from smoking evokes.

Hypnosis can be a process of creating a desire to change one’s life and attitude to that of a non-smoker so that the goal becomes achievable and strived for on a conscious and subconscious level. Though breaking free from cigarette smoking is always ultimately up to you, with hypnosis this process could be easier as well as more long lasting.