Does Hypnosis Help You Quit Smoking?
On the outside, quitting smoking seems easy, especially to those who have never smoked. But, in reality, it is one of the most challenging things that many people will ever go through. The nicotine found in cigarettes is extremely addictive, and this is the reason that people find it so hard to quit smoking.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer across the world due to the nasty chemicals found in cigarette smoke. These chemicals, known as carcinogens, can cause irreversible damage to the alveoli in the lungs, increasing the risk of cancer.
Damage to the alveoli can also decrease your ability to breathe and may lower the amount of oxygen that gets taken in through the lungs.
Not only this, but carcinogens can affect your blood circulation and heart health too. They cause damage to the walls of your arteries and make the blood thicker and stickier. This increases your risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke.
This is why smoking cessation is incredibly beneficial to your health. There are several different methods that are used to help people quit smoking, including nicotine patches, lozenges, chewing gum, counseling, and therapy. The benefits of hypnosis for quitting smoking are also being recognized.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is defined as an altered state of awareness in which you appear to be asleep or in a trance like state.
Although hypnosis is seen as a form of entertainment, with people like David Blaine using it as part of his shows to impress his audiences, it is commonly used in clinical settings to treat a range of physical and psychological conditions. These conditions include weight management problems, sleep disorders, speech disorders, and addiction.
When you are under hypnosis, you are not asleep or unconscious. Hypnotic induction techniques are used to quiet the conscious mind and help you get into a trance like state.
During this state, you are still aware of your surroundings and you can’t be forced to do something against your will. Hypnosis results in a heightened brain state that allows you to become more susceptible and open to change as suggested by the hypnotherapist.
How Can Hypnosis Help You to Quit Smoking?
Hypnosis has been shown to provide benefits to those who are trying to quit smoking. Hypnotherapists will make statements and suggestions to you when you enter a trance-like state that encourage you to quit smoking.
For example, during hypnosis, smokers are often asked to imagine all of the negative consequences of smoking cigarettes. You can also be asked why you started smoking and to visualize the nasty smell of cigarette smoke or the dry, dehydrating feeling that it can cause in your mouth.
The aim of these visualization activities is to push your focus towards the negative health effects of smoking while you’re in a trance like state in the hopes that you remember them when you are conscious and reaching for a cigarette.
It’s important to note that different hypnotherapists will use different methods and techniques during their sessions, so hypnosis treatments can vary quite significantly.
Spiegel’s method uses three main affirmations during hypnosis to help you quit smoking. The hypnotherapist will repeat these affirmations throughout the session and will ask you to repeat them to yourself every time you get a smoking craving in the future.
- Your body needs to live
- You should respect and protect your body
- Smoking poisons or damages the body
Does Hypnosis Work for Smoking Cessation?
There is mixed evidence for using hypnosis as a method of encouraging smoking cessation.
Many people have seen huge success in using hypnosis as part of their efforts to quit smoking, but many others find it to be ineffective. Many studies show that hypnosis is no more effective than other smoking cessation methods or addiction treatments.
With just one in four people actually being able to achieve a trance like state, hypnosis is not appropriate for everybody. In these cases, other smoking cessation methods would have to be used. Even for those who are able to get hypnotized, the intensity and success rates can vary.
There is also lacking evidence for why hypnosis actually works. As every individual is different and we still don’t really know how to the subconscious mind functions, it’s difficult to pinpoint the reason that hypnosis can be successful for some people.
It’s possible that hypnosis helps you to quit smoking because it relaxes your mind and enhances your focus. It may help you to concentrate on the benefits of quitting smoking when you’re about to reach for another cigarette and it could make it easier to cope with the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Although many online websites and lots of qualified therapists swear by hypnosis as a highly effective method for smoking cessation, it is not an approved therapy by the American Medical Association (AMA).
This is likely because the results are so variable and some people see no success using hypnosis at all when trying to quit smoking. Further research is definitely required.
What to Look Out for in a Hypnotherapist
If you want to give hypnotherapy a go and you’re looking for a hypnotherapist to hire, here are some of the key things to look out for.
- Qualifications and license - make sure the hypnotherapist has the correct qualifications and is licensed to legally perform hypnotherapy. Accreditations should include medicine, psychiatry, psychology, or nursing.
- Empathy and caring - the hypnotherapist should be genuine, and they should show empathy and care towards you and your struggles.
- Honest and integrity - the hypnotherapist you choose should be honest about their abilities. They should make it clear that hypnotherapy is not a guaranteed method to help you quit smoking. Avoid therapists who make large claims.
What Happens After You Quit Smoking?
You will start to see the positive effects of smoking cessation as soon as you quit. In 20 minutes of having your last cigarette, your pulse rate will decrease back to baseline.
Within the first eight hours, your oxygen levels will return to normal, and around half of the carbon monoxide in your body will have been removed.
Within the first 2-3 days of having your final cigarette, pretty much all of the carbon monoxide will have been removed from your body and you will notice that breathing begins to feel a lot easier for you.
This is because the mucus produced by your lungs will have removed most of the harmful chemicals that the cigarettes deposited. You will also start to notice improvements in your taste and smell.
You may experience headaches, cravings, irritability, and mood swings during the first few days of your journey into quitting smoking. This is because of nicotine withdrawal. These symptoms should pass by the seven-day mark.
After one week of quitting smoking, the flow of blood within your vessels (your circulation) will have improved and your blood pressure is likely to decrease.
After a month of quitting, you may find that you are coughing and wheezing a lot less. Your performance during exercise or sports is likely to increase due to your improved circulation and better lung function.
Once a whole year has passed without you smoking another cigarette, your lung function is restored almost fully back to normal levels and your risk of having a heart attack decreases by about 50%.
Your arteries begin to open up once again and the stickiness of your blood decreases, reducing your likelihood of having a blood clot and, therefore, reducing your risk of having a stroke.
Ten years down the line and your risk of dying from lung, pancreatic, mouth, and throat cancer also dramatically decreases by around a half compared to smokers.
After 15 years of not smoking, your risk of developing heart disease falls to where it is similar to a non-smoker.
Hypnosis has been successful for many as part of their smoking cessation efforts. If you think it may be beneficial for you, there’s no reason not to give it a go. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t work for everybody and the results are significantly variable.
Ensure that you do adequate research to find a licensed hypnotherapist with a great track record to give yourself the best chances of successfully quitting smoking.
Smoking cessation is extremely difficult and it takes a lot of hard work and patience, but it’s completely possible. Use the resources that are available to you and keep reminding yourself of the incredible benefits of quitting smoking, such as those listed above. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!