What’s the REAL reason that smoking is so hard to quit?
The smoking habit is considered to be an addiction to nicotine, but this perception is neither entirely true, nor helpful to those who are struggling to quit and repeatedly falling back into the habit.
A new study in tobacco dependence suggests that at least three out of five people who experiment with a cigarette end up becoming daily smokers at some point. And while roughly 70% of smokers say they want to quit, very few successfully kick the habit.
“In the development of any addictive behaviour, the move from experimentation to daily practice is an important landmark, as it implies that a recreational activity is turning into a compulsive need,” said Peter Hajek, professor of clinical psychology and director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London.
Addiction to Nicotine: Not the full story
If addiction to nicotine was the main issue when attempting to quit smoking, it doesn’t make sense that many of us know of a friend or family member who has effortlessly given up smoking “cold turkey” with seemingly no withdrawal symptoms. And while the better part of our nature is happy for them, it can be awfully frustrating to those who are really trying – and failing – to quit smoking. It makes us wonder what “their secret” is.
In this article, we will uncover why some smokers are able to quit smoking easily, while others get caught in a vicious cycle of trying to kick the habit. We’ll also explain why hypnotherapy works and how it helps many people get over their compulsion to smoke.
The craving is, in fact, not only a physical one, but also psychological one which is related to thoughts and feelings of anxiety, fear or guilt and this is relieved by the sight of, the feel of and the taste of tobacco and smoke.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the craving for a cigarette in would-be non-smokers who had been abstinent for a couple of days is not lessened by nicotine patches or gum, or even by an intravenous injection of nicotine.
In truth, people smoke when stressed, anxious or bored.
Smoking satisfies in three key ways: by inhaling deeply, keeping the hands busy and provides a pleasing oral sensation for the smoker.
When people stress they tend to breathe shallowly. This reduces the oxygen in the bloodstream, increasing our stress levels. Subconsciously then, we have the urge to take some deep breaths, but it feels awkward to do so in the company of others. Smoking satisfies this urge.
1. Smoking for a feeling of relaxation
When smoking people actually inhale deeply through a cigarette. Inhaling deeply is associated with relaxation, and people associate smoking with relaxation.
The reality is that nicotine does not bring calmness. It is one of the most powerful stimulants there is – one draw on a cigarette can raise the heart rate by about ten beats per minute.
So, it is not the nicotine that brings the relief – it’s the other stimuli which create a sense of calmness, a feeling of safety, a feeling that everything is okay.
2. Smoking to restore a feeling of control
The second need that smoking satisfies is a desire to keeps the hands busy. A cigarette in the hand has the effect of soothing an anxious mind, especially in high stress situations. By giving your hands something to do when you feel nervous, you have found a social tool that helps you to create a feeling of control.
Smoking quickly becomes a conditioned reflex, a compulsion that too easily becomes part of a daily routine.
3. Smoking to soothe
Thirdly when people smoke they suck on a cigarette – they feel and taste it in the mouth. It satisfies the oral sensation. This has the association of soothing, because as a baby you once sucked on your mom’s breast or a bottle and the taste of milk and the sucking reflex had a soothing effect on you. When stressed people smoke, they are subconsciously trying to soothe away the stress in the same way.
The subconscious mind created a deep connection between smoking a cigarette and the relief it brings to your emotions because smoking fulfills your subconscious needs.
The reason so many people try to quit smoking and fail is because they are focused on the nicotine addiction. While a nicotine patch or gum can replace the nicotine your body craves, there is no alternative for the sense of deep subconscious security that the act of smoking provides. A smoking addiction therefore has little to do with nicotine – but is a conditioned reflex, a compulsion to smoke a cigarette, from the subconscious mind.
To the subconscious mind this is a matter of survival, and for many, the instinct to survive will overrule the willpower you have to quit smoking. This subconscious picture of smoking a cigarette and the relief it brings to the emotions continues to torture the mind of the would-be non-smoker. To make matters worse, is the increase of adrenaline into your system, forcing you to take actions the smoking picture demands.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, you may notice feelings of anger, frustration, and irritability building up in your body. You may become more argumentative and less tolerant of others, or you may feel a tightness in the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Depression, anxiety and weight gain are all common side effects of the withdrawal process.
Why Hypnotherapy can help
Hypnotherapy is a well proven way to address the subconscious compulsion to smoke at its source, allowing the client to stop smoking easily & successfully, and without all the nasty withdrawal symptoms
There are three types of people who are trying to stop smoking.
The First Group
The first group no longer enjoys smoking because of the smell and taste or because they had a bad experience such as a heart attack or the onset or a respiratory problem. The result of their smoking now feels more threatening to them than the reassurance the smoking provides.
This first group has conscious and subconscious synergy in their decision to quit smoking and is usually able to stop smoking easily after receiving the stop smoking suggestions given in hypnosis.
How many sessions will I need to book?
This first group (as described above) typically benefits from 5 short 1hr hypnotherapy sessions which follow a set sequence over a period of three weeks:
- During the therapy, clients receive powerful stop smoking hypnotic suggestions and alternative healthy ways to cope with the urge to smoke.
- Hypnotherapy sessions also include hypnotic suggestions that promote the breaking up of connections between smoking and other habits e.g. drinking coffee or a glass of wine.
- We also give hypnotic suggestions to avoid the replacement of smoking with overeating.
Some well motivated clients stop smoking on day two and never smoke again, while others need a bit more assistance on day three. This prolongs the process with about two more hours.
The Second Group
Many smokers fall into the second group – people who still have a strong attachment to the comfort that smoking provides, but consciously want to quit smoking for logical reasons.
There are MANY logical reasons to quit smoking:
- Social reasons:
In the 1950’s, stars of the silver screen Audrey Hepburn & Marlene Dietrich were the epitome of sophistication & glamour with a cigarette in the hand and puffs of smoke swirling around them. In those days, smoking was appealing, attractive & even had the effect of making the smoker seem more intelligent.
How times have changed. Gradually over the decades, smoking became increasingly less acceptable until a big shift towards the end of the 90’s when the public became aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Today, the spaces where smokers feel free to smoke are evaporating and today’s smokers are feeling increasingly ostracised by legislation and society in general.
- Financial reasons:
The average packet-a-day smoker in South Africa spends more than a thousand rand per month on cigarettes. In addition, smokers often pay a premium on their health insurance and have more sick days, dental appointments & medical expenses than non-smokers.
If this wasn’t already burning a hole in their pocket, smokers also spend more money trying to clean the nasty cigarette-smell from their homes, cars & clothes; spending more on dry-cleaning and breath fresheners. And that same nasty smoke odour that lingers in your house no matter how much you clean may even lower the resale value of your property.
In short, every time you buy a box of cigarettes, you are burning through your hard-earned cash.
- Relationship reasons:
Smoking can put unnecessary strain on relationships, and many non-smoking spouses have very strong feelings about their partner’s smoking habit. Smokers put their non-smoking partner’s health at risk, and it can be interpreted to mean that they simply don’t care about their partner enough to quit.
Second-hand smoke (SHS), affects everyone around you; it can be harmful to loved ones, co-workers, and your community.
Compromises are seldom effective and smoking in secret can lead to a loss of trust in the relationship. A 1990s study by Eric Doherty and William J. Doherty of the University of Minnesota discovered that smokers have an increased risk of divorce.
- Health reasons:
The health risks of smoking are widely known:
“Smoking increases your risk for heart attacks and stroke, lung cancer, pneumonia and emphysema – and also doubles your risk of tuberculosis,” said Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit of the University of Cape Town’s Lung Institute.
“Some 50% of smokers die early – 14 years earlier on average – from smoking-related diseases” -Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit of the University of Cape Town’s Lung Institute.”
Several studies have also linked smoking to erectile dysfunction, fertility issues, osteoporosis and digestive problems and it’s also known to effect anything from vision, memory, sleeping patterns & cognitive ability.
Lastly, smoking causes headaches, heartburn, wrinkles and a host of other issues. In short, smoking interferes with every aspect of a healthy life.
- Public reasons:
It is becoming increasingly inconvenient for smokers in South Africa to get their fix. In March 2018, the Health Minister of South Africa, Aaron Motsoaledi vowed to clamp down on smoking, by doing away with designated smoking areas and getting rid of cigarette vending machines. “In 2005, we compromised and allowed smoking in 25% of public spaces, but we are going to take that space away to protect everyone” the minister said during a conference in Cape Town.
This means that some companies may soon be turning your last smoking haven, the smoking area into yet another smoke-free zone.
As smoking continues to interfere with all aspects of a smoker’s day-to-day life, you should find yourself asking: “Is smoking really worth it?”
There are many logical reasons to give up smoking and never take another puff again… and yet…
Many smokers fall into this group where they consciously want to quit smoking for logical reasons but still have a strong attachment to the comfort that smoking provides.
For them it can be very difficult to give up smoking. This is because to them smoking is a conditioned reflex, a compulsion from a deep part of the subconscious mind.
This is why hypnotherapy is so effective: it addresses the subconscious compulsion to smoke at it’s source, at the heart of the subconscious mind allowing clients to stop smoking successfully.
If I fall into this second group, how many sessions of hypnotherapy will I need to book?
This second group generally requires more than 5 sessions of hypnotherapy, depending on each client’s unique set of circumstances.
During the initial hypnotherapy sessions, we discover the reasons for resistance from the subconscious mind which results from physiological experiences earlier in life. These are often experiences where the client’s physical survival was at stake or relate to difficulty in breathing e.g. a traumatic birth, a near drowning experience, asthma attacks, or losing consciousness.
For these clients, the compulsion to smoke is especially deep-seated as the act of puffing smoke allows a person to “see themselves breathing”. This gives the subconscious mind the “proof of life” or “sign of survival” it needs to feel at ease.
In these cases, it is important to facilitate regressions in hypnosis to deal with the underlying issues.
Once this subconscious block has been eliminated through hypnotherapy, the compulsion to smoke is often easily removed allowing the client to stop smoking successfully. These regressions prolong the therapy by the number of hours it takes to remove the subconscious block, which may vary from person to person.
The Third Group
There is a third group of would-be non-smokers that is resistant. They have issues with control, and while they realize their health is at risk, they reject the suggestion that the cigarette has some control over them.
This group smokes for both physiological and emotional reasons. They require a full hypno-analysis of their lives to identify the cause of their resistance and to be helped to overcome it.
If they are well-motivated they too can be helped to stop smoking, but it is often a longer process, depending on the severity of the underlying problems that need to be addressed.
The long-term therapy
One hour – A complete personal history of the client is obtained.
Two hours – Hypnosis is explained, and a test is done in hypnosis to identify underlying subconscious reason for the urge to smoke.
Follow up sessions:
Two hours each – Regressions are done in hypnosis to eliminate the subconscious urge to smoke.
- A prenatal regression.
- A birth regression.
- Regressions to other incidents relating to the smoking habit.
Once all subconscious blockages have been removed the short therapy program of five x 1hr sessions follows.
Are you ready to quit smoking? Why wait when effective help is available!
Eureka Centre is situated in Doringkloof, Centurion – in a private and serene area overlooking a beautiful garden with secure parking.
Why Hypnotherapy can help
Hypnotherapy is a well proven way to address the subconscious compulsion to smoke at it’s source, allowing the client to stop smoking successfully, and without all the nasty withdrawal symptoms.
Where to find us?
Eureka Centre is situated in Doringkloof, Centurion – in a private and serene area overlooking a beautiful garden with secure parking.
Our consulting hours are Monday to Thursday 09:00 – 13:00 and 15:00 – 19:00 and
Friday 09:00 – 13:00.
Once you have made an appointment, feel free to download the Info Pack. This helps to streamline our service and saves you time.
There are so many benefits that await you when you quit smoking which may include:
- More oxygen in your lungs more oxygen in your tissues and brain.
- A longer & healthier life.
- Improved mental capacity, with better memory.
- Increased enjoyment of the taste of your food.
- Finally enjoying the smell of your own clean breath.
- A chance for the body to eventually recover from the damage that was done by smoking.
- An improvement in your self-esteem and self- image.
- A feeling of inner power of self-control.
- Feeling good about yourself & your accomplishment.
- More abundant health & energy.
- Save money.
- Clinical Hypnosis and Smoking Seminar under the Auspices of The South African Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Presented by Dr Trevor Modlin July 1998.
- Peter Hajek, professor of clinical psychology and director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit, Queen Mary University, London.
- Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit, Lung Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
- “Smoke gets in your eyes: Cigarette smoking and divorce” by Eric Doherty and William J. Doherty of the University of Minnesota, January 1998.
- Huffington Post: “Motsoaledi About To Get Much Tougher On Smokers (And Vapers)” March 2018.
- “100 Good reasons to stop smoking: A List of compelling reasons to quit the vice” by Dr John Uebersax: http://www.john-uebersax.com/diet/nosmoke.htm