Hypnosis for smoking cessation has slowly been gaining popularity as a method to help people quit smoking and many of the people who have used it have reported good results.
Many more people are considering it as a viable option but they don’t know what the method is all about, how it works and what experts say about it.
Well, this post is meant to shed light on hypnosis and how effective it really is for quitting the habit of smoking going by what research says.
Understanding The Global Issue of Smoking
Smoking is one of the major problems facing millions of people across the world.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause in the category of deaths that are preventable (1).
In the United States alone, there are more than 16 million people living with a health condition that was caused by smoking.
Globally, the use of tobacco brings about the death of 30 million people every year and if nothing changes, it is estimated that by 2030, the figure will spike to 8 million people per year who will die due to tobacco-related health issues.
Some of the health problems caused by smoking include stroke, diabetes, heart disease, erectile dysfunction in men, cancer, and lung diseases, among others.
It is also known to heighten the risk of various eye problems, tuberculosis, and immune-related issues such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Some of the different methods that help manage smoking that are aimed at complete quitting include therapies like nicotine replacement therapy, non-nicotine medications, and even behavioral support.
Hypnosis is another intervention that may prove to be helpful in this area as well.
Let’s take a brief look at how hypnosis works.
What is Hypnosis
Hypnosis is more than what you see in different entertainment stages and shows.
It is a technique that has often been used in comedy stages and entertainment shows for fun and thrill of the audience.
A comedy hypnotist will go on stage with a number of “volunteers” and he will hypnotize them and make them do various weird things such as scratch their private parts in public, pick their noses and take up pet names that they are given by the hypnotist as their real names.
All this is fun and all, but it is not a true reflection of what hypnosis really is and most of it is usually scripted and based on lots of falsehoods.
Hypnosis is actually a morally superior technique that is used in medical environments for treating people with different health conditions including pain management.
It is a state of waking consciousness where the hypnotized person has all his attention directed towards the inner experiences such as cognition, imagery, and feelings (2).
In this trance-like state, it is possible to access the subconscious mind easily and make the kind of change we desire based on the health issue we are struggling with.
Hypnosis is a widely used tool in various therapies including psychotherapy and when you get to understand what it really is and what it actually does, you realize how falsely it has been represented in the entertainment industry.
We encourage you to read our beginner’s guide to hypnosis to understand hypnosis properly and learn what research shows about it.
How Hypnosis Helps With Smoking Cessation
Hypnosis used to help people overcome the habit of smoking is based on changing their negative thought patterns and behaviors that have been encouraging their smoking.
Hypnotherapy, which is the term used when hypnosis is used as a tool in clinical situations, helps the patient change their perspective about smoking and see the real harm this habit is doing to their body and life as a whole.
The commonly used angles for this type of therapy include the idea of a cigarette having a bad smell, smoking leaving the mouth dry and parched, and how it poisons the body.
When you receive the suggestions and affirmations and constantly work with the hem, they might help you change the perception you have about smoking and encourage you all the more to drop it.
Now there are many approaches used when it comes to hypnotherapy.
Some hypnotherapists combine hypnosis with other forms of therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) that also addresses other aspects of the treatment that contribute to the overall change towards the betterment of the patient’s health status (3).
Others use hypnosis as a standalone approach where they guide the patient in the hypnotic state that makes them more open to suggestions and then give them positive suggestions that are designed to help them break the smoking habit.
And there are other clinicians who use medication together with hypnosis.
These different approaches are meant to cater to the different needs of the patient depending on how affected they are by smoking.
Also, since we are all different and respond differently to various treatments, having a couple of options to explore helps you have a higher chance of getting an approach that works well for you personally.
In hypnotherapy, what usually happens is that you get to discuss with the hypnotherapist about your smoking issue, how it has affected you, and what kind of change you would want to see in that regard. Then the hypnotherapist will formulate a strategy that is aimed at slowly helping you reduce the tendency to smoke and calm down the natural desire to have a smoke.
Based on the level of your health issue, you may need a couple of sessions with the clinician, after which they will assess your progress and make further recommendations.
You may also find that you have been given some self-hypnosis techniques to use to manage the urge to smoke when it arises after you are done with the treatment.
It is worth noting that hypnosis works better when you, as the patient, have made a firm decision to change and you are committed to making the change in your life without being forced by someone.
What Research Says About Hypnosis For Smoking
There has been a good deal of research on the effectiveness of hypnosis as a method for people to quit smoking.
Some approaches to hypnotherapy for smoking, especially those that integrate other elements of cognitive and behavioral therapies have been found to be more effective than others.
Likewise, the hypnotherapy strategies where the clinicians use scripted suggestions or regression have not been found effective.
Those cases where the clinician prepares the patient for a hypnosis session and then play a hypnosis recording and leave the patient to listen and be taken through the session by the recording have brought unrewarding results compared to the ones where the clinician is actively involved in the hypnotherapy session.
While the method is commonly used and uplifted by many, it doesn’t yield any qualitative results.
Those hypnotic strategies that only use hypnotic suggestions as the only method for smoking cessation don’t have as much effect as those that combine a number of strategies that are known to be good for helping patients drop smoking.
Hypnosis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been found to make a good combination for this purpose.
Studies revealed that, when put alongside each other, hypnosis was shown to have more potency than CBT and Nicotine replacement therapy in some scenarios, but that doesn’t make it sufficient as a sole intervention for handling the smoking problem (8).
Studies show that using a number of cognitive and behavioral strategies such as nicotine patches. CBT, social support, and motivation in conjunction with it in a way that goes in line with the clinical research literature, makes it more likely for the patient to be a complete non-smoker in the next couple of months or years (9).
That is why it is always important to make sure you are aware of the strategies the hypnotherapist you choose to work with is going to be using when working on your case.
Essentially, hypnosis is a really promising technique when it comes to smoking cessation and there are a number of occasions where it has been found better than other interventions.
However, it requires more research to fully exploit its abilities in this area.
Hypnosis is a growing body of study that many researchers have gained a high interest in and in the coming years, we hope that we will be able to understand this technique better and how to make good use of it (10)(11).