One of the most common therapeutic uses of hypnosis is to help people stop smoking. There are endless CDs, tapes and therapy sessions on the market offering hypnosis to help people quit smoking. For many it is the ultimate test of whether hypnosis really works–can hypnosis stop someone from smoking? The answer seems to be yes. In scientific studies, the use of hypnosis has been shown to be 3 times as effective as other methods of stopping smoking, with a success rate of about 30%. These studies included the use of pre-recorded CDs. In one-on-one personal therapy, some hypnotherapists claim a much higher rate–as much as 95%. The key to the success of hypnosis is that it does not just deal with addiction to nicotine that afflicts smokers, as other treatments such as patches do. Hypnosis reprograms the subconscious mind to stop the habit of smoking. It can break the link between the trigger activities that smokers associate with having a cigarette.
These triggers may include having a cup of coffee, a stressful telephone call, a business meeting, or having just eaten a meal; each smoker may have one or more such triggers that prompt him or her to smoke. The associations between these triggers and the habit of smoking exist in the subconscious mind, and remain even after this physical addiction to nicotine has gone. However, when the hypnotherapist makes the right suggestions to the smoker’s subconscious, these powerful associations are removed or, better still, replaced.
The hypnotist will find out what the individual’s own triggers are and associate them with healthier habits. The therapist will suggest to the subconscious that when the patient feels the urge to smoke, she will drink water, eat some fruit, do some exercises, or phone a sympathetic ex-smoker for support. Often the suggestions will focus on the benefits of not smoking–better health, improved sense of taste, more money–rather than on the negative effects of continuing the habit. After treatment the client will usually be advised to avoid the triggers to smoking for a few days, including meeting with other smokers in social situations where she might be tempted to have “just one” cigarette with a friend. After a short period, however, the client is usually able to resume normal behavior as the association between smoking triggers and smoking is broken. This includes spending time with people who still smoke. Hypnotists commonly imply a suggestion that the patients will be tolerant of other people smoking, but will not themselves feel the urge to smoke.