How Effective is Hypnotherapy for Smoking Cessation?
Smoking is a very addictive habit and can be extremely difficult for people to break. Moreover, it is really the nicotine that smokers become addicted too. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that has a number of effects on the brain and neurotransmitter pathways. One of the key neurotransmitters it has an effect on is dopamine. High dopamine levels activate “reward” and “pleasure” pathways in the brain making people seek more and more of it because it feels so good and immediate. This article aims to inform you on the dangers of smoking and how hypnotherapy can help you quit it for good.
One of the key reasons people relapse into smoking after they attempt to quit is because of the strong withdrawal symptoms. All of us have nicotinic receptors in our brain and nicotine has a high affinity to bind to these receptors. Subsequently, these pathways are activated, causing a cascade of downstream effects. As you continue to use nicotine the body naturally “up-regulates” or makes more nicotinic receptors to respond to the pleasurable feelings you get from ingesting it. Naturally, when you stop feeding those receptors with nicotine, your bodies natural state is out of balance. That is where the cravings come in and you begin to feel all of those awful withdrawal symptoms - irritability, anxiety, depression, cognitive and attention deficits, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite. These strong symptoms are what usually lead most people to give in and continue to feed all those up-regulated receptors with nicotine. The good news is, if you give it enough time, and stop smoking for long enough, your body naturally down-regulates those receptors over time. The cravings will begin to diminish slowly until they are completely gone. It’s so important to get over that initial hump, so you can get the unwanted habit under control.
The Detrimental Health Aspects Of Smoking Smoking has so many detrimental health aspects that you can write an entire book about them. Cigarette smoke contains a lethal cocktail of over 4000 chemicals, 43 are known to cause cancer, 400 are highly toxic to the body. Ingesting these chemicals is known to cause chronic lung disease, asthma, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and reduced fertility. Scientifically, the statistical correlation between lung cancer caused by smoking is one of the strongest causative links known to date. When you stop and take a moment to consider all the benefits versus the pitfalls, it won’t take most people much time to realize that choosing not to smoke is a “no brainer”. Regardless, once hooked, it can be really difficult for most people to stop. A vicious cycle of attempts over the years to try and quit can lead some people to feel hopeless and even cynical at the prospects of a cigarette free life. The good news is that if you have consciously made the decision that you no longer want to smoke, there are alternative ways to help you stop. Nicotine replacement therapy is a common route, where you slowly “wean” your body and nicotinic receptors off the nicotine. This lessens withdrawal effects and can help you get over the critical hump of causing a possible relapse. Another alternative most have not considered is hypnotherapy.
How Effective Is Hypnotherapy For Smoking Cessation? Many research articles have come out over the years attempting to measure the efficacy of hypnotherapy and hypnosis for smoking cessation. There has been mixed evidence saying that "yes" there is a significant benefit and some articles stating that there is little to no benefit. From personal experience, hearing individual testimonials, I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews. A recent study published in the literature provides strong evidence in support of hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. It even goes further to prove that it is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy. Published in 2014, the study was conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital in conjunction with the Tufts University School of Medicine. There was a total of 164 patients enrolled and they found that the patients who received hypnotherapy were more likely to be “smoke free” after 12 and 26 weeks when compared directly to patients who received the nicotine replacement therapy. Furthermore, patients who received Hypnotherapy were three times more likely (300%) to abstain from smoking than patients who only received the nicotine replacement therapy. These unbelievably positive findings only give further credence for hypnotherapy as a very valuable and effective option for people who are seeking to quit smoking for good.
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Written By: Sebastian Di Cesare PhD, CHt - a research scientist & practicing Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Vancouver, Canada.