Smoking has been a health risk since tobacco smoke has nicotine and other damaging substances such as carbon monoxide. The impact of tobacco smoke goes beyond personal health and has direct effects on the individual smoker. As the major cause of avoidable deaths in the U.S., smoking has taken into account the effect on the environment and economic conditions of non-smokers. Tobacco smoke affects different organs of the body, causing diseases and impacting life quality and expectancy. Different approaches have been used for smoking cessation therapy to try and help smokers to quit smoking. Hypnosis therapy has been one of the most effective therapies for smoking cessation. This paper will focus on the use of Hypnosis to assist individuals in quitting smoking.
The effects of smoking
The rate of smoking in the United States has risen regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Smokers in the U.S are considered individuals who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes and are reported to be smoking some days or every day. In 2019, 14 percent of all adults, which amounts to 34.1 million individuals, are currently smoking cigarettes, with 12.7 percent of women and 15.4 percent of men (CDC, 2019). It’s also recorded that 1,600 youths try their first cigarette every day. Many adults have recorded the desire to quit smoking despite the strong addiction to smoking. Cigarette smoking has been high among individuals between 25-64 years (CDC, 2019). Smoking has increased among some population subgroups, including adults with mental illness and experiencing homelessness. For instance, smoking has been high among Alaska natives/Non-Hispanic American Indians.
Smoking is linked with many diseases, including lung disease, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking leads an estimated 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S. – nearly one out of every five deaths overall–and results in about $300 billion in direct medical spending annually (CDC,2019). It’s responsible for about 1 in 5 deaths nationwide, more than 480,000 each year, and costs about $300 billion in direct medical expenses annually.
Quitting smoking has been one of the greatest challenges among addicted smokers. One of the reasons why quitting smoking is that the brain has gotten used to nicotine. Nicotine is the main addictive drug in cigarettes. Nicotine has chemicals that make smokers feel good and stimulate the brain (Widysanto et al., 2018). With time, nicotine alters how the brain works. Therefore, when the brain lacks nicotine, it gets irritated, leading to difficulty sleeping and concentrating, leading to a strong desire to smoke. Ideally, nicotine leads to pathophysiological changes in the body of smokers and also creates tolerance to its action in the body through repeated exposure (Widysanto et al., 2018). Most of the smokers in the U.S. who attempted to quit smoking have reported facing challenges such as lack of health insurance, lack of finances, and lack of suitable smoking cessation programs.
Psychotherapy and nicotine replacement therapy may be effective, but they still leave the individual subject to their cravings and desires for nicotine. On the other hand, Hypnosis has been shown to help: lower stress levels and increase one’s sense of well-being. Some of these benefits may be related to hypnosis’ ability to stimulate an altered state of consciousness but studies show that it can also affect neurotransmitter activity within the brain. For these reasons, there remains a need for smoking cessation programs that work extremely well across all types of smokers. Hypnosis could be one viable solution since research shows hypnosis’ ability to affect neurochemicals in the brain (Ridfah and Wulandari, 2020). If individuals are given this tool before they relapse into their old habits, they will have more control over themselves when faced with smoking cues. Further, changing the smoker’s psychological state to be more open to change will allow individuals to have a greater sense of control over their behaviors. This may help prevent stress-induced smoking and the difficulty of quitting while feeling surrounded by other smokers.
Hypnosis is a therapeutic tool used frequently to help people quit smoking. Even though nicotine replacement and other pharmacological treatments for smoking cessation, psychological and behavioral therapies such as Hypnosis can help smokers (Green and Lynn, 2018). There are no psychological approaches that are superior compared to others. Still, Hypnosis has been studied experimentally and offered to patients for many decades and significantly led to positive outcomes in smoking cessation.
Hypnosis can change a person’s mental state, which may affect the likelihood of quitting. Hypnosis has been preferable since individuals can be more aware of their reasoning for quitting, the process is individualized to the patient, and it has no side effects. Considerably, smoking cigarette is a psychological habit and physical addiction. Therefore, quitting means having different healthier approaches to cope with the addiction feelings. Additionally, to quit smoking, one has to be prepared mentally and emotionally.
Hypnosis has been an effective approach to gain control over the new perspective and cravings of being a non-smoker. Hypnosis allows for greater self-awareness, which can help discontinue unhealthy behaviors (Ridfah and Wulandari, 2020). It also has the potential to affect subconscious thoughts and feelings that are related to specific behaviors. At stage 1 hypnosis, individuals can be more aware of their motivations for quitting smoking or address any other addictive behavior. Then at stages 2 and 3, they become more open to change; a state is referred to as positive expectancy. Therefore, Hypnosis is an effective tool to help smokers quit.
Accordingly, there are three types of hypnotherapy approaches for smoking cessation: cue exposure therapy, autogenic training, and self-hypnosis/relaxation exercises. In cue-exposure therapy, the patient imagines smoking a cigarette while being in stage 1 hypnosis to help them become aware of their thoughts and feelings related to smoking to eventually decrease urges and desire for cigarettes after becoming more conscious about why they smoke in the first place. Hypnotizing the individual at stage 2 during exposure therapy can make them more open to suggestions and help them associate smoking with unpleasant experiences.
In autogenic training, the individual is encouraged to practice relaxation exercises in a state of medium trance to increase feelings of safety and security and decrease feelings of stress or anxiety that may trigger cravings for cigarettes. Finally, self-hypnosis/relaxation exercises are used when an individual becomes fully absorbed into stage 3 hypnosis, where the person feels deeply relaxed while imagining what it is like not to be addicted anymore, such as imagining having no desire to smoke.
Benefits of Hypnosis Therapy
Hypnosis works through breaking the negative thought patterns and behaviors linked to smoking rather than replacing and reducing the addictive chemicals in the body. Therefore, it focuses on weakening the desire to smoke as well as boosting the will to stop thus enabling the smoker to concentrate on a cessation plan (Ridfah and Wulandari, 2020). Hypnotherapy changes the mindset of the smoker and gives them a new approach towards smoking. For instance, the therapist’s suggestions help the smoker confront their smoking habit and accept the hazards of something. This helps in overcoming their cravings and no longer perceiving it as something they would enjoy. Ideally, Hypnosis works on the conscious and subconscious mind. It helps to condition an individual’s mind that smoking is not enjoyable or advantageous for them. Over time, they will become disgusted by even the mere sight of cigarettes. This way, hypnotherapy can help fight off urges to smoke with ease. Not only will this help with cravings, but also withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and anxiety.
Hypnotherapy helps in breaking the habit since it lets go of the challenging and old routines of smoking. Breaking the negative behaviors and through patterns such as smoking to reduce stress helps in quitting smoking. Hypnotherapy is an effective tool since it can help strengthen an individual’s resolve to quit smoking and reduce the withdrawal symptoms that often accompany smoking cessation (Barnes et al., 2019). Smoking is a difficult habit to break, especially for those smoking heavily for years or even decades. It is important that they understand that although it may take some time, quitting smoking is achievable with hypnotherapy.
Smoking cessation benefits the health of smokers, but the process of quitting smoking is challenging to smokers. Different smoking cessation therapies have been utilized to help smokers stop smoking. Hypnosis is one of the therapeutic tools that try to weaken the desire to smoke and boost the will to stop and enable smokers to concentrate on the cessation plan. Hypnosis offers behavioral support, which is more effective for smoking cessation.
Barnes, J., McRobbie, H., Dong, C. Y., Walker, N., & Hartmann‐Boyce, J. (2019). Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6).
CDC. (2019). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm
Green, J. P., & Lynn, S. J. (2018). Cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and Hypnosis for smoking cessation: A scientifically informed intervention. John Wiley & Sons.
Ridfah, H. H. A., & Wulandari, A. (2020). The Analysis of Hypnotherapy Model for Smokers.
Widysanto, A., Combest, F. E., Dhakal, A., & Saadabadi, A. (2018). Nicotine Addiction.