“You are getting very sleepy… you are getting very sleepy… smoking is poisonous to your body and your health, and if you avoid smoking you’ll live a longer, healthier, and happier life.”
If you’ve been thinking about quitting smoking or have tried quitting before, you’ve probably thought about every option - from going cold turkey, to trying nicotine gum or patches, or even hypnosis.
Will it even work?
While hypnosis might sound like an interesting option based on the scenes you’ve seen in Dracula, Good Will Hunting, or Zoolander - where a hypnotist swings a pocket watch in front of your face until you fall into a trance - there’s not a ton of evidence as to whether hypnosis will actually help you quit smoking.
Using hypnosis to quit smoking isn’t a new fad. For decades, people have tried everything to cut back and eliminate cigarettes from their daily lives. Nicotine addiction is a powerful thing, and hypnosis is one of the many methods that cigarette smokers have tried over the years to quit.
How does hypnosis work?
Hypnosis works with the hypnotist or hypnotherapist using guided cues or repetition to put you in a trance-like state - in spite of the line about getting very sleepy, you’re not actually asleep for any of it. During the trance-like state, the therapist will make suggestions designed to help you achieve your therapeutic goals - and you might be more open to these ideas than you would be in a normal mental state.
Different methods of hypnotherapy use different strategies to help cut back on smoking. Some lessen your will to smoke, perhaps by suggesting you pick up a piece of nicotine gum instead of a cigarette. Others strengthen your will to quit by associating smoking with negative impacts.
Research has shown that there are actual differences in brain activity during hypnotherapy sessions, especially in the areas of the brain that control awareness and actions, but it’s not clear how or why hypnotherapy works to change opinions or behavior.
Hypnosis has been recognized by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association as a valid medical procedure to treat stress, pain, anxiety, and depression since 1958. Hypnotherapy has been used as a strategy for cutting back on smoking since 1970 (my own grandfather successfully quit smoking with the help of a hypnotist in 1974). The practice centers around sharing the negative effects of smoking and the importance of respecting and taking care of your body if you want to live a longer and better life.
How much does hypnosis cost?
If you want to try hypnotherapy to help you stop smoking, expect to shell out some cash.
Hypnotherapy can be very expensive - according to the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, smoking cessation sessions will set you back between $75 and $125 per session, and not all providers accept insurance. In addition, hypnotherapy can often require multiple sessions in order to be fully effective. There are some programs that are cheaper, such as self-guided hypnotherapy programs created by therapists, or self-guided hypnotherapy programs that are delivered through apps, but these services also have similarly mixed rates of success. If you want to work one-on-one with a professional, you can expect to pay for it.
Will hypnosis help you stop smoking?
The jury is still out on if hypnosis will help you stop smoking. The good news is that hypnotherapy isn’t dangerous, and doesn’t require taking any sketchy substances. And unlike what you see in movies, your hypnotist isn’t actually utilizing mind control during the sessions, so while they can make suggestions about the dangers of smoking or what you should do instead, they can’t make you do anything unsafe or that you don’t want to do.
Utilizing hypnotherapy as a strategy likely won’t cause any harm - either to your physical or mental health or to your efforts to quit smoking - but it might not help. There’s not a lot of reliable research on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy to determine whether it’s actually a good strategy for cutting back on cigarettes.
Hypnotherapy varies widely based on both the practitioner and the participant, and while there is some research out there showing hypnotherapy to be somewhat effective, a lot of studies had design flaws or were inconclusive at best, so there isn’t reliable evidence that hypnotherapy was a better way to quit smoking than other smoking cessation options.
Because of the wide variance among both hypnotherapy practices and hypnotherapy research, the Department of Health and Human Services and other research and validation entities have found it hard to compare them or recommend one highly effective practice. And when researchers at the University of Auckland compared several studies on hypnotherapy as a way to quit smoking, they found that studies varied too much to combine or compare results and come to a specific conclusion, and many studies had flaws in their design.
What studies have shown is that hypnotherapy by itself might not be effective for helping you cut back on smoking, what has been shown is that hypnotherapy is more effective when combined with other FDA-recommended strategies for smoking cessation, such as nicotine gum. This is likely because nicotine gum or other replacements are a strategy that would be introduced during hypnotherapy, so when taken together, would be more effective in helping someone quit. In fact, one study found that people who combined hypnosis and nicotine patches in order to quit smoking had a higher rate of success after twelve months than people who used nicotine patches and standard behavioral counseling.
How can I cut back on cigarettes?
If you’re looking to cut back on cigarettes, hypnotherapy might be worth a try - if you can swing the cost.
Looking for more bang for your buck? Consider nicotine replacement therapies, like LUCY’s chew and park gum and nicotine lozenge.
Nicotine lozenges have been shown to be more than twice as effective as other smoking cessation strategies.
A hypnotherapist may not be around when a nicotine craving hits, but you can keep a pack of chew and park around, whether you’re at work, at the gym, or out with friends.
Give them a try and let us know what you think!
The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should not be construed as a substitute for, professional medical or health advice on any subject matter. Please consult your physician regarding any medical treatment decisions.