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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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Hypnosis for Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking can be a real challenge. But it's one of the best things you can do for your health. Smoking is a dangerous, even deadly habit. It's a leading cause of cancer. It also increases your risk for heart attacks, strokes, lung disease, and other health problems, including bone fractures and cataracts.

If nicotine lozenges, patches, chewing gum, counseling, and other smoking cessation methods haven't helped you kick the habit, don't give up. Ask your doctor if hypnosis is an option for you. Some studies have shown that hypnosis may help certain people quit smoking.

What Is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is defined as an altered state of awareness in which you appear to be asleep or in a trance. Clinical hypnosis may be used to treat certain physical or psychological problems. For instance, it is frequently used to help patients control pain. It is also used in a wide range of other conditions such as weight issues, speech disorders, and addiction problems.

There is debate about how hypnosis works. Some people believe that when you are hypnotized, you relax and concentrate more, and are more willing to listen to suggestions -- such as giving up smoking, for example.

Even though you appear to be in a trance during hypnosis, you are not unconscious. You are still aware of your surroundings, and -- despite what many stage performers may claim during an entertaining show -- you cannot be made do to anything against your will. In fact, brain tests performed on patients during hypnotism sessions have shown a high level of neurological activity.

Hypnosis for Smokers

During hypnosis for smoking cessation, a patient is often asked to imagine unpleasant outcomes from smoking. For example, the hypnotherapist might suggest that cigarette smoke smells like truck exhaust, or that smoking will leave the patient's mouth feeling extremely parched.

Spiegel's method is one popular smoking cessation hypnosis technique that focuses on three main ideas:

  • Smoking poisons the body
  • You need your body to live
  • You should respect your body and protect it (to the extent you'd like to live)

The hypnotherapist teaches the smoker self-hypnosis, and then asks him or her to repeat these affirmations anytime the desire to smoke occurs.

Does Hypnosis Work?

Hypnosis, in general, does not work for everyone. About one in four people are not able to be hypnotized. When successful, the intensity of hypnosis can vary from person to person.

How well hypnosis works to help people stop smoking depends on who you ask. Study results have been mixed. In 2001, a study published in the Journal of Dental Education concluded that it "seems justified to classify it as a "possibly [effective]" treatment for smoking cessation." And a handful of studies looking at Spiegel's method found that almost half of patients had stopped smoking by 11 months. However, the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute web sites clearly state that "reviews that looked at studies of hypnosis to help people quit smoking have not supported it as a quitting method that works."

WebMD Medical Reference

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