Smoking… Habit or an Addiction?
It is no secret smoking seriously damages your health, not to mention your wallet. 50% of all smokers die from the habit and cigarettes kill more than 13 people an hour in the UK¹. So why do people find it so difficult to quit smoking?
Smoking is powerful psychological habit
Nicotine leaves the body within 48 hours of being a non-smoker. So why do so many go back to smoking?
Contrary to popular belief, smoking is not just about nicotine, but it is a very powerful psychological habit that drugs and NRT (nicotine replacement treatments, such as gums and patches) cannot address effectively.
It is true that pharmaceutical treatments do have some success, but when you look at their success rates a year later, the chances are if you go down that route you’ll be smoking again.
Nicotine patches have a 13 per cent success rate after a year, which rises to 20 per cent when you combine them with counselling². (If it were a simple case of nicotine addiction, you would expect nicotine gums and patches to enjoy far higher success rates.)
Willpower alone has a 6 per cent chance of success². You are nearly 4 x more likely to quit with drugs such as Champix, but with a 22%¹ success rate, what about the majority who are still struggling to stop smoking?
The issue with pharmaceutical treatments is that they don’t tackle the psychological addiction, which is the biggest part of the problem. They can also have some very unpleasant side effects including weight gain and irritability. Nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, insomnia, headaches, dizziness and depression have been also associated with drug treatments, and there even been reported suicide cases with Champix in both the UK and USA.
The addiction vs. habit debate
Some scientists argue smoking is a nicotine addiction and others believe it is psychological. The argument against physical addiction is based on the fact that ‘nicotine withdrawal’ symptoms are rarely the same and not experienced by everyone who quits smoking.
The power of belief
It appears withdrawal symptoms are biased by the beliefs and expectations of those ‘attempting’ to quit. Put simply, if think you are going to suffer withdrawal symptoms, you are more likely to experience them and may even manifest them.
Participants in research trials may not have really wanted to quit, or some participants may even have taken part because they wanted to show someone they tried to give up, but it did not work! (e.g by the person nagged’ by their partner to quit)
The nicotine addiction myth
There is an urban myth that smoking is harder to quit than heroin addiction.
In reality, there are two very important differences.
Firstly, all heroin addicts experience similar side effects, as with a true physical addiction. This is not true for smokers trying to quit smoking. Side effects range from irritability, extreme exercise, over-eating and anxiety to depression. They are not consistent, and moreover, a large percentage of ex-smokers manage to stop without any side effects at all.
Secondly, a hypnotherapist is highly unlikely to stop heroin addiction is one session, yet they can help a smoker stop smoking. If nicotine is a chemical, physical addiction, it has not been a problem for the many thousands of people worldwide who have quit smoking with hypnotherapy.
The addiction vs. habit scientific debate is likely to run and run. However, it doesn’t really matter because we know people can stop smoking with hypnotherapy, without side effects.
Ready to quit now? Or want to find out more ?
Call Katie Glen now on 020 8712 5981 to book your stop smoking hypnotherapy appointment.¹ash.org.uk, accessed June 2009 ²New Scientist (Robert Matthews, Issue 1845, October 1992). Collected from statistics from more than 600 studies, covering almost 72,000 people in America, Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe and including 48 studies of hypnosis covering 6000 smokers