Smokers are a dying breed (literally, ha ha?), but we’re still out there. Yes, I stopped when I first started this blog and got hooked again when I used smokes to deal with some emotional issues around my serious relationship at the time. I’m gearing up to try stopping again, though, so I’m happy to present today’s guest blogger, Vani Chugh!
Smoking could kill you, give you cancer, and play havoc with your health, these are facts that every smoker is aware of! But, like all addictions it’s a hard habit to break. Thankfully, for those who want to quit and give their health a chance, there are several cessation therapies that can prove to be effective. The following are among the 4 that could work for you in combination with each other, or on their own.
As per a 2010 study by the Boston University School of Public Health researchers, electronic cigarettes were found to be safer than their carbon monoxide releasing alternatives. The study admitted that E-cigs in fact, may help in breaking the habit of smoking.
Though they did stress on the need for further studies, the researchers concluded that e-cigs were less toxic than regular ones. While the study didn’t end the debate about the effectiveness of E-cigs, it did give them more credibility.
Why Do E-cigs Work?
Unlike other nicotine replacement therapies, E-cigs actually re-create the experience of smoking and are therefore often the preferred smoking cessation method for habitual smokers.
In addition to that the fact they deliver nicotine through vapor instead of cancer-causing smoke, makes e-cigs less harmful than regular cigarettes.
Intention has a big role to play in breaking addictions. Smokers that are able to quit smoking through E-cigs are those that have a strong will to quit.
Some health experts believe that because E-cigs gives one the freedom to smoke anywhere, habitual smokers may in fact end up smoking more and eventually replacing e-cigs with their regular cigarettes instead of gradually moving towards quitting the habit. However, that again is rather subjective.
A study presented at Chest 2007 found participants who took 1 hypnosis session were the more probable candidates for quitting in six months than those who took only NRT or went the cold turkey way.
However, the overall results from scientific studies on Hypnosis have been mixed. The websites of the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute do not acknowledge it as a successful quitting method. Having said that, researchers that have studied hypnosis have stressed on the need for additional research to determine its effectiveness.
In fact, personal accounts of people that have quit smoking successfully through hypnosis are quite positive. The effectiveness of hypnosis though varies based on the intensity of the sessions one experiences.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
Hypnosis works with the power of suggestion. It is believed that in a trance-like state we are more open to accepting suggestions. A trained therapist will usually ask you to imagine the worst outcomes of smoking in vivid detail and let your subconscious absorb the thoughts, so that you start associating the habit only with its negative effects, instead of the perceived positive feelings like relaxation, stress-relief, etc.
(Editor’s Note: I tried hypnosis and this was not what they did for me in my sessions. They asked me a few questions at the beginning of each session, then created the session using what I had said to create a positive future without cigarettes, and turning around my negative thoughts and beliefs into positive ones. Read: Yo Yo Healthy Living: Part 3)
Hypnosis may not work for you, if you are not entirely convinced about opening yourself up to a therapist and letting yourself be hypnotized. Moreover, you have to believe that it can work for you, if you want hypnosis to help you quit smoking.
3. NLP – Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
People often see NLP as an extension of hypnosis as it involves working with the subconscious mind, setting negative and positive associations with certain behavior patterns in a manner that the desire to smoke gradually fades away.
How effective it is as a quit smoking therapy depends on who you speak to. Like all alternative and new age therapies, the research studies in NLP and smoking have not been completely conclusive.
Though experimental studies in NLP have not come up with any empirical findings to support it’s effectiveness, believers of NLP argue that since NLP deals with human behavior which is very subjective, experimental studies are not the right way to study it.
Can NLP Work?
Studies aside, there’s a lot of published material about NLP and it’s effectiveness. If you were to look online you’d find several people in forums and on self-help websites that swear by its positive effects. NLP too works by attacking smoking at a psychological level and focusing on its root cause—the desire to smoke.
A trained practitioner can help you modify your behavior and attitude towards smoking by helping you identify the thoughts and actions that encourage smoking, and train your mind to replace those behavior patterns with positive ones that encourage you towards more constructive habits.
Here too your belief system plays a big role. If you associate going into trance with a weak mind, are averse to the idea of trying alternative therapies, or following the suggestions given by your therapist, and/or aren’t 100% convinced that you indeed want to quit smoking, it may not work for you.
4. Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Research studies have proved that it can be an effective method to quit smoking. The US Government’s smoking cessation journal (2000) encourages smokers to use NRT to gradually wean themselves off cigarettes. Habitual smokers in fact, are often prescribed NRT by their medical practitioners, with or without smoking cessation medicines.
Why NRT Works?
NRT helps slowly wean your body of nicotine by gradually reducing the dosage. This way the smoker’s withdrawal symptoms are more manageable and the body gets time to adjust to a nicotine-free life.
The chances of relapse cannot be discounted with NRT. A research study conducted by researchers at HSPH (Harvard School Of Public Health) suggested NRT, especially nicotine patches and gums, did not seem effective in the long run (even with counseling). The study found that 1/3rd of the participants that had quit in each of its defined period relapsed.
So, what’s the best method?
Addictions are easy to attract but difficult to get rid of. So, when it comes to quitting your will is often the strongest determining factor. Other than that a combination of methods that match your personal belief system can prove to be effective.
Finally, it’s important to weed out the desire for cigarettes not just at a physical level but from your mind, which is where therapies that work on a psychological level play an important role.
About the Author
Vani Chugh works as a freelance writer for e-cigarettereviewed.com. She is a professional blogger and writes on various topics including health and technology.
To follow up with my note about hypnosis: obviously, hypnosis did not work for me but I still believe in it’s effectiveness for some people. I was going through my first break-up at the time and I’m positive that although my hypnotherapy sessions did not help me to stop smoking, they helped tremendously with how I managed in a healthy way (emotionally, mentally and in other physical ways, like fitness and clean eating) to get through that rough time.
Have you ever tried any of the above therapies? How did they work for you?