After practicing hypnosis and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) in Atlanta since 1988, I’ve come to wonder just how helpful or accurate it is to compare nicotine to such addicting drugs as heroin, alcohol and cocaine.
If you give a detoxing heroin addict some heroin, the cravings and withdrawals stop. If you give a smoker who is quitting a nicotine patch or nicotine gum they may well experience little or no reduction in the craving to light up.
This illustrates that the power that smoking has over people is more psychological than physical. Of course, the nicotine plays a necessary role in starting and maintaining the hook that keeps smokers smoking. But, the fact that removing the physical nicotine cravings does not eliminate the desire to smoke is a key to understanding the reasons that hypnosis can be so effective in helping smokers rid themselves of the desire and habit.
Some reasons that smokers give for not stopping
“Cigarettes are my friend” This notion was addressed in my first entry on this blog. Some smokers become fond of smoking, and imagine cigarettes as “friends”. So stopping smoking is like giving up a good friend. And, that makes stopping much harder.
“I only get a break at work when I smoke” People who believe this feel as if they will lose their work breaks. That seems like an unreasonably high price to pay to eliminate a habit.
“I always smoke when I drink coffee and/or alcoholic beverages” These smokers do not want to have to give up their coffee, or evening glass of wine, too!
“I like the buzz I get from smoking” This is one of he most fun and easy issues to address with hypnosis and NLP. I simply teach them to make the buzz themselves without tobacco.
“Smoking helps me relax, calm down, etc” This is actually incorrect. Smoking and nicotine actually causes more stress. It is usually enough to remedy this belief with an NLP technique called reframing, and a few metaphors.
“Smoking gives me something to do when I’m bored” Again, a little reframing and a metaphor or two counteracts this belief easily.
“I can not imagine not smoking for the rest of my life” People who say this are frequently scared of the thought of becoming nonsmokers. The solution to this belief is simply to have the smokers change the time frame of the way that they imagine the process of stopping.
You may have noticed that most of the beliefs above have nothing to do with the drug effects of nicotine. That is why hypnosis and NLP can be so effective in helping a smoker stop. Once the obstructing beliefs are eliminated, it is easy to be a nonsmoker.