I could not stop smoking, and really wanted to quit.
have smoked for twenty years, starting my late teens, which I now recognize as
especially ridiculous because I was a competitive athlete (in soccer) at the
time I started the habit. I have taught overseas for much of my adult life, and
several of the countries where I lived (especially Asia and parts of Europe)
were more open to public smoking than America is. When I returned home, I
realized that I could no longer smoke at restaurants, in people’s homes, and
other places I had become accustomed to lighting up, so I felt isolated. My
asthma was also exacerbated by smoking, and of course I also knew it is really
deadly. But I just could not quit.
To quit in the past, I tried cold
turkey (which worked a few times, once for two years), Wellbutrin, nicotine gum,
and a nicotine patch. Then about six months ago, I was in treatment for
depression and alcohol abuse and my counselor recommended trying clinical hypnosis to
quit smoking. Since I wanted to stay away from any sort of chemical treatment
(like anti-depressants or even nicotine-based treatments), it interested me. I
kind of felt like, why not?
I found hypnosis to be surprisingly
accessible and not weird. To me, it seemed like a mixture between a relaxation
therapy and a counseling session. I felt really relaxed but not “out of it,”
like in the movies. I felt present. I think it has helped me cut down. I haven’t
quit, but I smoke about half of what I used to. Smoking isn’t an automatic
response for me now. Hypnosis seems to have made me calmer, or at least more
aware that I have choices.
I found my hypnotherapist through my chemical
dependency counselor. I don’t know that my psychologist would have recommended
hypnosis, or my regular doctor who I see for asthma. But they haven’t spoken out
against it. I assume they’re just glad to see people try to quit smoking in
whatever way possible!
I sensed that some people thought it was weird,
and sort of “magical thinking.” But none of my practitioners advised against it,
and most people, once you started talking about it, were actually really
interested in knowing more about it.
I would say that hypnosis is not
for everyone, but it is certainly worth a try. I know that it cannot hurt, and
could really help, so why not? I feel the same way about other complementary
therapies: I experienced acupuncture and massage therapy when I was in Asia, and
both helped me with various health problems from asthma to anxiety.