Words: Caitlyn Hudson Sub-Editor:
2016 is approaching us fast, which means it’s not long until the new year resolutions lists start being written… and if you’re a smoker, giving up the cigarettes is probably going to be on yours. Giving up smoking is easier said than done though, right? Wrong.
If you’ve tried giving up smoking before and failed, you may have been going the wrong way about it. There are quitting aids such as nicotine patches, gums and a ton more to help you give up… however it is not the nicotine that’s the problem. Nicotine leaves your system in 48 hours and your body will no longer crave it after this time. Any nicotine substitutes are just pro-longing this process. They aren’t completely useless: they do help wean you off it, and although they make the process longer, they do make it easier. But what you’re really addicted to is the action – the process of having a cigarette – and this is why people are turning to hypnotherapy.
I spoke to Renata Bartoli, a highly qualified hypnotherapist who has been practising hypnosis and regression since 1994. She explained that because cigarettes aren’t a chemical, they aren’t an addiction. They’re a habit. And every time you take a puff of a cigarette, it leaves an imprint on your sub-conscious mind, and ‘the more you repeat it, the stronger the imprint’. And since the sub-conscious mind is supposed to keep habits going, reaching it is the key to tackling smoking for good – ‘you need to first cut the connection with the habits’.
A lot of health problems and habits are placebos, and hypnotherapy cuts your emotional and psychological ties with smoking so you can find the motivation to give up for good. Since your sub-conscious mind is supposed to keep habits going, giving up smoking is hard without hypnotherapy or a great deal of willpower. When people give up smoking on their own, they tend to replace it with eating, drinking or something else that’s potentially harmful to their health. A lot of people are turning to E-Cigarettes, which are reported to be 95% less harmful than cigarettes. However they are still a habit, and they can cost just as much as a hypnotherapy session (which can result in not needing to smoke at all). Hypnotherapy replaces the habit with an idea, for example Renata Baroli, during the hypnotism, convinces her patient that ‘a being’ is following them wherever they go, waiting for them to smoke, and if they do then something bad may happen. As un-realistic as it may sound, it works.
Another reason that people find it so hard to give up smoking, as opposed to habits like over-eating, people don’t see an instant gratification. They usually only dwell on the long-term effects such as future ill health, which are a lot further away than the cigarette they’re about to smoke. Renata Bartoli helps people focus on the positive and instant gratifications of smoking: fitness, freedom, energy and not smelling of smoke.
I asked some smokers in London why they haven’t given up smoking.
Jenny Smith: “I’ve smoked for 6 years, I can’t imagine not smoking. I would like to give up, though”.
Ahab Malik: “I’ve tried giving up a few times, it works for a while but I always end up starting again”.
Aimee Parke: “I used to smoke a lot more, i’ve cut down a lot. It’s hard to give up completely”.
Jack Norman: “I only smoke E-Cigarettes now, it’s not the same but it works if you want to give up real fags”.
I also asked them if they’d heard of hypnotherapy and if they’d try it.
Jenny Smith: “I have heard of it but I haven’t thought of actually doing it, it sounds like a good idea but I doubt it works’.
Aimee Parke: “I have actually thought about it. My friend did it for weight loss and that worked for her – so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with smoking”.
Ahab Malik: “I’ve never heard of it. If it works I probably would try it”.
Jack Norman: “No, i’m happy with E-Cigarettes. I enjoy smoking and they’re not really bad for me”
Hypnotherapy does have a high success rate with smoking, and smoking is one of the most common reasons people have hypnotherapy. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t believe that it works. ‘Hypnosis for smoking is very easy if the person is serious’ Renata Bartoli told me. ‘hypnosis helps you go from a to b. It helps to motivate you.’ However, she also said that you must not smoke again afterwards, or you’re back to square one. Hypnotherapy makes it a lot easier to turn away from the smoking, but you must stick to it. Renata also offers 12 months of protection – meaning for a year she will continue to help you until you have cut the habit for good. However she is confident that only one session is needed, unless there is a deeper issue behind the habit (like very low self-esteem).
Hypnotherapy can cost between £50-£90, which may sound like a lot of money, but it’s a great investment. Also, think of the money you’ll save on cigarettes! If you’re desperate to give up smoking and have tried everything, the NHS may be able to refer you to a hypnotherapist.
Scientists are still exploring how well hypnotherapy works, and it’s still in the early stages of being recognised as a helpful and worthwhile practice, but with the high success rate it’s definitely worth a try.