I was talking to a client the other day who told me they were coming for hypnosis because a friend other theirs had had hypnosis for smoking and it had worked. Unfortunately they had decided to “test” themselves about 6 months later and had started again. Now I know that hypnosis sessions are designed to help people who WANT to stop smoking, they are not designed for people who want to smoke again. If you are trying to smoke then the session you had 6 months ago may not be effective. Why would you want to start again?
This got me thinking about the reason people start smoking again. They are definitely no longer addicted, the nicotine is completely out of their system. Most people smoke because they believe it relaxes them, calms them down. So whichever method people choose to stop smoking, they often start again at a stressful time in their lives. They don’t smoke because they like the flavour or to look cool. People believe that a cigarette is going to help them. After years of smoking, people link the action of reaching for that cigarette and inhaling the smoke with being able to relax. Unconsciously a strong pattern is built. So even when someone has not smoked for years and they are having an emotional spike, if someone offers them that cigarette, they will sometimes automatically accept because their unconscious mind wants them to be safe and relaxed.
Many people also unconsciously link smoking with pleasure, they smoke socially with friends, often having a drink and enjoying a night out, so the other time people restart is once they’ve had a drink and their guard is lowered. A cigarette is offered and that old pattern kicks in automatically.
What people don’t often realise about smoking is that it is often the change in the breathing pattern that causes the relaxation and the calmness. One of the fastest ways to change your “state” that is the way you are feeling is to slow your breathing pattern down. Most people are aware of this, through meditation, breathing exercises or hypnosis, or even using apps to help them breath and relax. However, most people don’t link the change in the breathing pattern to the reason smokers find smoking relaxing. One of the reasons e-cigarettes have become so successful is that the breathing element of smoking is still present, however this trades one addiction for another and that crutch is still being used to help you relax.
Hypnotherapy can help you get rid of the initial addiction to nicotine and a session usually includes strategies to use to change the way you respond to stress and often includes a calm anchor that allows you to breath and relax without the need for a cigarette. An intensive session of hypnotherapy will reduce/remove the old patterns and embed new behaviours so that you can give up easily without needing to swap your old crutch for a new one. A session often includes aversion therapy where you may link revulsion feelings to smoking. These sessions can be very effective for someone who really wants to stop smoking, however for anyone who is trying it out because a partner wants them to quit, unfortunately you have to want it to work to accept the suggestions- if you don’t want it to work – it won’t.