I love helping smokers sever their connection to the deadly habit. They come in hopelessly desperate for help and leave with big smiles and new found confidence to easily move forward smoke-free.

I once had a 72-year old truck driver, Joe, who smoked three packs a day for 30 years. He was so desperate and worried for his health, he would do absolutely anything to be free. In a tearful discussion he shared his fear of not seeing his grandchildren grow up.

After the first two hypnosis sessions he was giddy with hope. Joe came back in a week for his third session. He walked in the office grinning like a Cheshire cat. “I have not touched a smoke all week.” We did his third session and I sent him on his way. Six months later I got a heartfelt letter from his eight year old granddaughter thanking me for “saving her Grandfather’s life”.
One reason smokers do consistently well with hypnosis is because they are fearful for their healthy well-being, which translates into high levels of motivation. Motivated individuals with nowhere else to turn are my favorite clients.

It is all about repetition. If a smoker takes 20 puffs per cigarette and smokes a pack per day, he or she is repeating the problem pattern 400 times a day and 146,000 times per year. Think of the possibilities if you applied that level of consistent repetition to a life affirming activity.

Most are unaware that the seeds of the smoking pattern are sowed very early in life. From the first time a four year old child positively viewed a parent smoke a cigarette, the wheels of smoking inner thoughts were set in motion. Every time that child saw someone smoke, the root of this accepted value grew until one day it transitioned from a thought to an action.

The first cigarette is an interesting experience; just because the thought of smoking has been nurtured and cultivated for years does not mean the body necessarily agrees with the plan. I recall my first cigarette and my reaction was typical; I gagged and choked my way through the entire cigarette. If most first-time smokers have such an unpleasant experience, why would they ever go back for more?

Suppose you went into a new restaurant and ordered a meal you never had before and anticipated a great dining experience. The meal arrived and looked delicious but your first taste repulsed you in every way. It tasted so vile it made you physically ill. As a result, it is safe to assume that you would likely never order that dish again and probably never go to that restaurant again.

If the response to both situations is similar why would the diner stay clear of the meal but the smoker continue to smoke? The smoking value was programmed and reinforced ten years before the event. There was no such planning for the culinary catastrophe.

Unfortunately enough first-time smokers continue the habit to support a multi-billion dollar industry responsible for killing 5.4 million people per year worldwide, and predicted to kill 6.5 million people by the year 2015. (World Health Organization)

When smokers attempt to consciously quit, they usually encounter withdrawal in the form of cravings, mood swings, or even weight gain. Withdrawal is conflict between the conscious and subconscious mind. Consciously, you want to stop smoking but your subconscious protests, demanding what the ‘program’ calls for. Hypnosis is a way of communicating with the subconscious, helping it to understand and accept the new healthier pattern.

By routinely reinforcing the solution, it grows a root of its own and quickly becomes the pattern of choice, conflict free.I see smokers for two office visits. During the initial visit, they learn self-hypnosis and receive two stop smoking hypnosis sessions. Then they return within a week and receive a third session.

They go home with an MP3 of the three sessions and are instructed to listen once a day. The formula is simple; repetition created the problem, so we use the same approach for the solution. Because hypnosis formerly opens the vault and pile-drives the preferred message so deeply into the subconscious mind, lasting positive change can comes easily.

In one study patients received individualized hypnosis for smoking cessation over three sessions. 81% reported they had stopped smoking completely and 48% reported abstinence for at least 12 months post-treatment. 95% of patients were satisfied with the treatment they received. (Int. Jnl. of Clin. and Exp. Hyp. 2004)

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH