I could line up the awful and negative aspects of smoking for you but as with most people who smoke, you should already know the dangers and risks involved. In fact, if I did I’m sure I would still be writing this article for some considerable time yet! I basically help people quit smoking in Cornwall.
In line with the negative aspects of smoking, I could probably also list out the endless list of links to articles that purport to tell you more information than you can shake a stick at. Including the cancer link, the new law on smoking in cars, the prison ban, the many arguments for and against vaping.
So I’m not going to do any of that. Plain and simple, if you want to quit smoking and find yourself reading this thinking you would like to try hypnotherapy then by all means, contact me. No, I’m not a smoker, so how can a non-smoker help you? How can I genuinely say that I know enough about smoking to help you stop?
Well, I like brains although not as in the Frasier Crane TV series clip where he’s known for eating brains!
There are possible reasons why some people who keep getting onto the nicotine patches fail time after time. As for E-cigarettes, they’re increasingly being seen as the easy “transitional” solution, however, there are countless arguments about which I won’t go into here. One way of explaining why people fail time after time is a difference between different “smoking” brains. So if you are struggling to give up, or equally feeling rather smug about your own amazing willpower, either way your success is probably all in your head. In particular and of fascination to me, the brain.
It’s the way nicotine can spread to the brain that contributes to how addictive it is. Approximately 10 seconds after inhaling, that nicotine level within your brain hits a peak. But then a few minutes later it starts to dissipate which gives you the cravings for more and ever greater highs. Technically a superb bit of work by the tobacco companies, but morally wrong in my opinion.
Because nicotine stimulates what we call the reward centre of the brain, it provides smokers with a feeling of pleasure and peace. We’re not the complicated creatures that we think we are, if it feels good we like it. So those cravings that you end up having, are also brought on by certain situations, like seeing other people having a cigarette break, or after a meal – reactive cues to be specific.
So presumably if you are less likely to be able to resist cravings you’ve less of a chance to quit smoking. And yes some brains find that much harder to do than others. There’s a mechanism between what is known as the insula and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC) if you are really keen on brain science. The DACC plays a role in decision making and reward seeking behaviour. So if you chose to grab that pastry today despite the fact it’s breaking your diet, the DACC was where that decision was made. Meanwhile, the insula is involved in creating cravings. In fact, studies do show that if it’s damaged through stroke or head injury then a smoker simply wouldn’t want to smoke any more – those urges are taken away.
So going back to the different smoking brains I mentioned earlier, if you are finding it simply impossible to quit no matter what you do it may well be that your insula and DACC have a very very strong connection. Those cravings end up feeding into your decision making and well the results are inevitable. So there are times when having a good strong connection isn’t always a good thing.
So how can you quit?
Firstly, no please don’t go into your brain and start doing home brain surgery to disconnect the DACC and insula. Changing the size of the insula may be of some help though. The bigger the insula, and it’s been found that those who meditate for example are more likely to have so, results in fewer of those cravings for addictive drugs. The exact details of how meditation affects the insula are still being researched but it’s clear to me that those practices including hypnotherapy / relaxation may well be one of the most effective routes to take.
So, if you are considering hypnotherapy to quit smoking the first step is to make sure you are choosing to quit for yourself. Hypnotherapy is most effective when you really want to quit – if you are doing it because you think you ‘should’ or because a friend or family member is pushing you, you may not get the results you want.
Hypnotherapy works by putting you in a deep, relaxed state where your mind is more open to suggestion.
At this point your hypnotherapist will look to change your thought patterns by making suggestions such as ‘I do not want a cigarette’ or ‘I am repelled by the smell of cigarette smoke’. For many people, just one session is enough to quit smoking.