Can Hypnosis Help You Quit Smoking?

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Through a 2014 study at Salem Hospital in Massachusetts, researchers concluded that hypnotherapy is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for quitting smoking. Their finding was based on comparing conventional NRT with hypnotherapy alone or hypnotherapy in conjunction with NRT among 164 patients hospitalized with a smoking-related cardiac or pulmonary illness. The hypnotherapy session was conducted within two weeks of discharge. The NRT patients, after discharge, received a one-month supply of nicotine patches as well as nicotine gum or lozenges.

The results of the study showed that patients who received a single hypnotherapy session alone, or along with NRT, were three times more likely than NRT patients to have stopped smoking when re-evaluated six months after discharge from the hospital.

 My Viewpoint: Smoking cessation programs represent the most cost-effective actions to improve health in the general population, and nicotine replacement therapy using patches and medication increase the odds of beating the habit. But studies show that many people don’t continue or are put off by the side effects. Moreover, the pharmaceutical approach doesn’t get to the cause of the smoking addiction.

 What this Means to You: Cigarettes are the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. While smoking can be an extremely difficult addiction to conquer, it is also recognized as the most remediable health hazard. Hypnotherapy offers the potential to get to the cause of addiction, defuse the subconscious drive that stokes smoking, and encourage behavioral coping mechanisms to enhance motivation.

 Recommendation: For smokers who have been unsuccessful in stopping the habit, hypnotherapy is definitely worth a try. I have seen it work wonders in some patients but not in others. Click here for some additional tips to help you or a loved one quit.

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