What is hypnosis?
Hypnotic suggestions in this case can either come from the hypnotist or hypnotherapist, or they can come from the subject himself, which is then called autohypnosis. It works by opening the subconscious and excluding the censor of consciousness that always filters, edits and judges the content that is allowed into the mind.
Unlike what is usually thought of hypnosis as being a form of sleep, newer research shows that it is actually a state of heightened focus with increased susceptibility to suggestion and decreased awareness of the surroundings.
Hypnosis does not make people loose control or surrender to the hypnotist; rather the hypnotist guides the subject on a way to recovery that they choose themselves. Most people can be hypnotized as hypnosis is a naturally state of your mind that you reach when you access your subconscious part of the brain.
Hypnosis as addiction treatment
There are several different motivations for addicts to stay addicted. Hypnosis can address most of them. Addicts usually use the vice, they have become addicted to, to escape from a life that is considered unbearable without the vice whether it is substance abuse, alcohol, gambling, porn, sex, or even work. The vice also brings pleasure to the addict, even though for many addicts this is more a motivation at the beginning of the slippery slope into the addiction than what keeps the addiction going, as many addicts feel guilt and shame around their addiction. Low self esteem is the consequence which perpetuates the vicious circle of using the vice to escape the unbearable life. There is also a physical aspect to addition to substances and abstinence can cause severe, in some cases (especially with alcohol addictions) life threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Hypnosis to stop addictions works by positive reinforcement of the conviction that life is possible without the vice whether it is substance abuse, gambling, porn or whatever crutch the individual used to escape a life that is sometimes on the unconscious level considered unbearable without. It places a suggestion into the mind of the addict to stop with the self-sabotage and deal with problems in different new ways. It can also improve the self-esteem. Hypnosis can also help with physical symptoms of drug withdrawal, but a medically supervised detox program might still be necessary.
Hypnosis to quit smoking
There are basically two ways to use hypnosis to quit smoking: self-hypnosis and hypnotherapy by a certified hypnotherapist. A certified hypnotherapist is somebody who has gone through classes and has passed tests in hypnosis. A certified hypnotherapist also has to have an advanced degree in a medical profession like psychology, medicine, nursing, psychiatry, or dentistry. Choosing a certified hypnotherapist ensures that your treatment is done by someone who knows what they are doing, and that you will receive the best care for you money.
How does hypnosis work to quite smoking? Why do you smoke in the first place? There are a few reasons for smoking that work against you when you try to quit smoking the old-fashioned way: there is the physical aspect: you are addicted to nicotine. You can fix that with a nicotine patch or chewing gum. However, you have the patch on your arm, and you still feel the craving for cigarettes. So this can’t be all. There are also psychological reasons and this is where hypnosis can be most effective.
Psychological reason #1: As a baby you learned through a lot of repetition that having something placed in your mouth like a bottle or the pacifier, distracts from whatever upset you and you can relax and soon fall asleep. As an adult this response still works: you’re stressed out and grab a cigarette. If you try to quit, you put food in your mouth instead, gain a lot of weight, and still have cravings for a smoke.
Psychological reason #2: smoking is a conditioned reflex: the most well known example of a conditioned reflex is Pavlov’s dog: the dog learned that ringing a bell means that he will get fed, and after a few repetitions he will start salivating just when hearing the bell. Some cat owners know that the sound of the electric can opener or the fridge door can do the same thing for their cat.
You might have subconsciously conditioned yourself to crave a cigarette because you always smoke in certain situations. You smoke after a meal, when driving a car, drinking a cup of coffee. When you try to quit, any of these situations will remind you subconsciously of smoking and trigger a huge craving for a cigarette. Hypnosis can create a picture in your mind where you can replace the relaxation and pleasure you derive from smoking with something else, it can help you to derive relaxation from a different trigger and can even put a negative association with cigarettes in your mind. Hypnosis can also break the association of smoking with certain situations and therefore break your conditioned reflex that triggers craving in these situations. Once these two powerful motivations for smoking are gone, you have successfully used hypnosis to stop smoking and quitting for good will be a goal within your reach.