On and on it goes. The latest word on smoking cessation (kicking the habit) is that hypnotherapy increases the odds of a smoker successfully becoming a non-smoker. Since the best health advice available to a smoker is to quit lighting up — but doing so is so difficult — any health news in this category is welcome.
Hypnotherapy is an alternative therapy that has gained steam in the past decade, used for a variety of conditions. Being hypnotized means you enter a state of altered and highly focused attention. You become relaxed in a way that completely cuts you off from the present moment. You are, temporarily, somewhere else or in some other time. For this, a licensed professional hypnotherapist is used to ensure you reach the deep state of focus needed to alter your habits when you snap back to reality.
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One important study in this vein arose a few years ago, out of the American College of Chest Physicians. It found that hypnotherapy beat out other smoking cessation methods among patients in hospitals. Those who went to just one hypnosis session were more likely to have quit six months later than people who used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or who quit “cold turkey.”
The researchers called it effective and said that the alternative technique is a good addition to any smoking cessation program. The patients who received hypnotherapy also got instructions on how to perform self-hypnosis at home. They were given tapes to play.
(Plus: Could hypnosis reverse hair loss?)
After 26 weeks, 50% of hypnotherapy patients remained nonsmokers. That was the same percentage among the combined hypnotherapy/NRT. But when the NRT was used alone, only 16% were nonsmokers after six months. And, as a side note, patients who had a heart problem were far more likely to quit smoking (45%) than people with a respiratory problem (15%). That suggests that a heart condition scares people into kicking the habit for good.
Hypnotherapy is most often used to shed pounds, quit smoking, reduce pain, overcome fears, control addictions, and limit stress. It is very safe and free of side effects. It’s been tried for virtually every pain or illness imaginable. Many professional hypnotists believe that the treatment may at least alleviate the presence of symptoms from a patient, helping them to heal mentally, if not physically. And that of course has a lot to do with quitting smoking.