Holistic smoking cessation

March 1, 2006
Many of us have seen our patients go through the continuous pain of trying to quit smoking.

Many of us have seen our patients go through the continuous pain of trying to quit smoking. They come in for their maintenance visit and tell us that this is their last day of smoking and that the reason they made the appointment for their cleaning today was to give them extra motivation. We are ever so diligent about getting every little speck of stain off the linguals. Get out those loupes! Our anal tendencies as hygienists, or shall I call it perfectionism, make us want to debride the heck out of the lower anteriors until they are like glass toothpicks, because we believe our patients will stop smoking and we want to help motivate them by giving them the cleanest looking teeth they’ve ever had.

Three months later, they are back again, sometimes embarrassed, tar and nicotine stains on the buccal and lingual surfaces like black crayon. We, too, are frustrated with their repeated failure. We feel sorry for them, and they look to us for additional suggestions. They have tried the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine inhaler, and Bupropion. Nothing has worked long term. Many of these products have helped thousands of people, but many are struggling still.

There is a profound difference between a smoker who has stopped smoking and a nonsmoker. The smoker courageously resists having a cigarette, while the nonsmoker couldn’t think of anything worse than smoking. You’ve probably heard those people who quit smoking 10 years ago and still say, “Every time I have a beer, I still want a cigarette.” If you are trying to stop smoking, that is a terrifying thing to hear! But these people only quit smoking at a conscious level - they decided to stop, and stopped. Unconsciously, smoking is still an attractive prospect for them.

An alternative approach to smoking cessation is hypnotherapy and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Smoking cessation is a process, and the holistic approach addresses the physical, mental, and emotional aspects. People learn about nicotine addiction and how the mind and emotions are affected. Through hypnotherapy and EFT, they experience major changes as the power cigarettes have over them diminishes. Within a few sessions, they are ready to set their quit date. They feel safe and confident and “know they can do it.” Many people experience few, if any, withdrawal symptoms, because the process of working with the subconscious has already freed them from most of their attachment to nicotine.

Hypnotherapy has helped thousands of people become tobacco-free, and the addition of EFT makes it even more effective. EFT can reduce cravings and “break up” the inner programming whereby smoking is associated with so many activities and times of the day, like driving the car, after meals, on breaks, etc. The old attachment to cigarettes just isn’t there with the same intensity. As EFT helps to clear the old patterns, a new vision of oneself as a nonsmoker is even easier to bring in through hypnotherapy. With the combination of these two tools, it is truly possible to break through the smoking habit and become a nonsmoker for life.

What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is basically a form of psychotherapy which uses hypnosis as a means of effecting deep, lasting changes. Most hypnotherapists have a background in psychotherapy and psychology. Nothing is more soothing and fast-acting for people suffering from most kinds of stress, anxiety, or panic, but it is equally effective for smoking, weight loss, self-esteem issues, etc.

Why is hypnotherapy so effective?

Nothing is more powerful than the human mind. It is the power of the mind that creates our problems in the first place. This same power is used in hypnosis to work for us rather than against us. The subconscious mind is a very real thing. Anything the brain is doing right now without consulting you is being done subconsciously - for example, adjusting your blood pressure and making little changes to your body temperature all day long. It does these physical things autonomously, but it goes way beyond the physical; the subconscious also has a considerable say in our feelings, habits, and emotions. Like a computer, the subconscious mind decides the degree of fear you may feel when confronted, for example, by a ferocious-looking dog. Much is determined by your past experiences. If you are a smoker, it is also the subconscious mind that decides to make you crave nicotine regardless of what you - the conscious mind - may think about smoking!

Unfortunately, the conscious mind, or what we call “willpower,” normally haslittle control over this deeper part of the mind. This is not a flaw of nature; it is, in fact, essential that we have no automatic ability to control the subconscious. In my case, to resist eating chocolate would take hypnotherapy!

The more I think about it, we could possibly incorporate flossing and oral irrigation into hypnotherapy.

What is EFT?

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a powerful technology for quickly resolving emotional distress. It is capable of relieving physical complaints such as chronic pain, allergic symptoms, and more. When effective, not only does it do this quickly, but it works without forcing the recipient to repeatedly re-experience the negative emotional state. This treatment is generally permanent, relatively easy to apply, boasts a higher than 80 percent success rate, and is free of negative side effects.

EFT is a wonderful tool that can be learned easily. The technique has been described as a psychological form of acupuncture but without the needles. It has roots in ancient Chinese medicine and the modern-day system of applied kinesiology.

EFT was developed by Stanford engineer Gary Craig. Through his life-long interest in helping people overcome their emotional limitations, he spent much of his time investigating various psychological treatments. All that was necessary was for the recipient to focus on the distressing emotion or memory and tap the revised sequence of energy points. This method became known as the Emotional Freedom Technique.

When a person remembers a painful or traumatic incident, it causes his/her energy system to disrupt. As the body recalls the memory, it also reproduces the original emotional state associated with that time. EFT works directly to rebalance the energy field; as a result, negative emotions are cleared and harmony is restored. The feelings connected to even the most intense memories or limitations are dispelled. The negative emotions attached to an event, whether past or future, can then no longer be accessed. Similarly, life-long phobias, compulsive behaviors, and unhealthy patterns of belief can be eliminated.

The reason this treatment is so effective is that it treats the problem directly by correcting imbalances in the body’s system. Once the imbalance is corrected, the negative emotion quickly resolves, leaving the person free of troubling emotions that may have been limiting their lives. There is also a technique we can do as hygienists to eliminate gagging by tapping on the side of the patient’s head around the ear with our fingers. Patients can also do this type of technique on themselves.

How does EFT work?

As you use your fingers to tap the designated pressure points, blocked energy is released on many of the meridian points. Meridian points are key points of energy that need to be kept unblocked for healthy living. The continuous tapping on these selected points for different emotional problems allows the release immediately. People often report a release of energy at this stage and describe feelings of light-headedness, yawning, sighing, and a sense of freedom. One of the most miraculous aspects of this treatment is the confused relief that people experience when they are suddenly without the familiar response that may have plagued them for years. When asked to recall the initial difficulty, most people are speechless; they can no longer connect to the original feelings that it provoked. The EFT process can take from five to 30 minutes depending on the number of aspects surrounding a problem.

Encouragement for your patients

Here are some benefits of becoming a nonsmoker that I am sure your patients have heard, but sometimes it takes a different voice and a caring health professional to make a difference. A loved one can be 100 percent correct in the information given to another loved one, yet we as health-care professionals may be able to say fewer words and get through to a person more easily.

• Your body will be more fit, healthier, stronger, and reach its full potential.
• You will have far more energy - no more being tired and lethargic all day long.
• You will experience freedom and relief - no longer a slave to cigarettes, no longer caught in a vicious cycle that is silently killing you and affecting your family’s health.
• Your blood pressure will decrease or move nearer to normal (one of the first physiological changes).
• Your skin will be much healthier and younger looking.
• You will no longer smell like a smoky dustbin or feel like a social leper.
• You will no longer face the 3 in 1 risk of being one of the 200,000 who die needlessly and often painfully of smoking-related illness every year in the United States. A large proportion of smokers die in middle age or younger.
• You will be richer by $1,825 per year for the average smoker (one pack a day).
• Your libido will be higher.
• You will have more control of your life.

Remind your patients that they will no longer be full of nicotine, one of the world’s most poisonous and quickly addictive drugs. Did you know that nicotine is 100 percent stimulant? It is purely the relief of relieving withdrawal symptoms, which gradually increase between cigarettes, that gives a person pleasure - not the drug. This explains why the very first cigarette does nothing for you. Overall it makes you more worked up and stressed. You will be surprised how much stronger and steadier your nerves will become, leading to increased motivation and confidence.

Find a hypnotherapist who has had successful experience in your area and build a complementary relationship. Have a business card ready for your smoking patients to immediately jump on their newfound motivation.

Aromatherapy tip: Carrot seed oil mixed with an unscented lotion or massage oil of choice is a great lubricant for skin affected by years of smoking. Remember, breathe deeply!