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Therapy and Treatment

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Treating Addiction: Smoking

Over the last few articles I have discussed one of the most popular Self Defeating Behaviours: that of addiction, focussing quite heavily on Alcoholism. This time I want to discuss another self defeating behaviour: Smoking. 

This is an important article because by the time you guys are reading this, the popular “StopTober” and "Go Sober for October" will be well underway for some people - the idea being that those who manage to cease a habit for 4 weeks are more likely to stop forever. Having a good understanding of how SDB’s work, I do believe that StopTober and Go Sober for October can be very helpful, lots of SDB’s are carried on simply because we’re in the habit of doing so! Therefore if you get out of the habit, the SDB is more likely to lose its hold over you because (hopefully) your subconscious realises that you can function just fine without it and didn't need that SDB in the first place. 

Mostly clients come to me for hypnotherapy to help them stop smoking. However, once a client has been in therapy for a while and they see themselves improving, lots of clients want to cut down drinking and stop smoking because they realise the benefits. So, how can counselling help you stop this very dangerous self defeating behaviour? Firstly, we need to look at why you started smoking in the first place. Many of my clients reply to this question with “I don't remember, I just did”. Sorry guys but that doesn’t wash with me! There’s a reason you forced toxic smoke and poisonous nicotine into your precious lungs - you know those things that help you breathe and, like, keep you alive??? Breathing in the chemicals and tar included in cigarettes is not a normal bodily function, it’s something we train ourselves to do. If it was natural, many more people would survive smoke inhalation in fires! But they don’t, people can die from smoke inhalation in a house fire just like people die from cancer caused by smoking. The only difference is we willingly smoke cigarettes and we do this over a longer space of time. So, sit down, be honest with yourself, and look back to the first time you ever smoked a cigarette. Put yourself back there, what was going through your head? Why did you want to smoke? Did you even want to smoke? Why did you carry on smoking? Was it peer pressure? I remember exactly the first time I was introduced to smoking. I was bullied at school, one of my friends told me that if I smoked I wouldn’t get picked on as much because I would “look cool” and look “harder” if I smoked because all the “hard people” smoked. So one day she invited me over to hers, and I kid you not, I had a lesson in how to smoke “realistically, like you’ve been doing it for years”. I coughed my guts up. I hated it. But my friend had be convinced that this was the ticket to “being cool” and not being bullied anymore so I went with it.  

Once we have found the reason you started in the first place, we need to look at why you carried on back then (ie: what reinforced it), what makes you smoke now (the current mindset and status of your self defeating behaviour) and why you want to stop. The current mindset of why you smoke is very important. A common reason for not wanting to stop is that the client will feel "left out". In which case I have a very simple solution to this. When your friends come back, ask if you missed anything! If your friends ostracise you from the group because you’re now the non-smoker - maybe you need to look at the type of people you hang out with. They may feel you are ostracising them because you are taking control of your SDB and have chosen to stop, they may think you feel you are now above them. Just explain you are doing this for you and you’re not going to judge them for still smoking. At the end of the day, if they want to smoke that’s their choice. There’s no point getting on your high horse because you decided you didn’t want to anymore.

Another common reason people struggle to stop smoking is that they’re afraid that they need it, they wonder what their life will be without cigarettes in it. They feel as though they are losing something, as drink can become the alcoholic’s best friend with some smokers the cigarette is their best friend. It’s a constant, something that will never leave them, they can always go and buy another pack of cigarettes. In this type of case I would remind the client that their best friend is slowly killing them, and do they really want to be friends with someone that is slowly committing murder - with the client’s help! Many clients battle with themselves - this is a symptom of addictive thinking (that I have written about before) and the key to beating any SDB and any addiction is to change the mindset of the client and the the thinking process by encouraging them to challenge their current beliefs about their SDB. If the belief system (concerning the SDB) was correct, the client wouldn’t feel they are reliant on it.    

If anyone would like to speak to somebody about their self defeating behaviour or any other issue, please visit our website and contact an advertising therapist.

by Jenny