We’ve all heard and seen the warnings—smoking kills. Yet despite all the Surgeon General’s warnings and the billboards I pass on a regular basis demanding things like “Los Angeles, Quit Smoking!” it’s harder to actually quit than most people (read: non-smokers) realize. Even when you’ve made the decision to quit, it’s difficult.
Despite the plethora of ways you can try to quit smoking, most attempts are unsuccessful. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, unless you have drugs or other types of help, your chance of success is between 4-7%. Even with that help, most cessation methods’ success rates sit around 20-40%. Below are a few alternative methods that I’ve seen work, either in my own life or in the lives of people I’m close to.
If you’re desperate to stop smoking, one of the best ways to kick your habit is to start thinking negatively about smoking. This is easier than you might think, since it’s more of a change in psychology than anything else. Aversive smoking is done by rapidly smoking 3 cigarettes in 3 minutes. After a short break (1-2 minutes), repeat and continue repeating until you’ve smoked between 12-15 cigarettes. By then you should feel ill and even the thought of smoking another cigarette makes you nauseous. According to a few different studies, the success rate is between 40 -50%.
About ten years ago, I smoked heavily. I’d tried numerous times to quit. Four months into my attempt at quitting cold turkey, I started up again. I was frustrated with myself for failing yet again. A friend of mine told me about aversive smoking, and, willing to try out anything at that point, I went for it. I’ll readily admit I was over-zealous in my attempt, disregarding the suggested breaks. Although I haven’t picked up a cigarette since, I know my success would’ve been the same had I followed the method more precisely. I would suggest that anyone who wants to try out this cessation techniques to abide by the guidelines. You’re risking your health if you don’t.
If you’re looking for a way to ease yourself out of smoking, you might want to look at e-cigs. With a success rate of about 31%, they’re one of the best ways to quit without seeking professional help or turning to drugs. There are a few different types of e-cigs too—some with a bit of nicotine, some without—so you have a choice. I haven’t tried electronic cigarettes personally (they weren’t around when I quit), but I have a cousin who used them to break her habit.
She’d been a smoker for almost thirty years (11 years of chain-smoking), and she wasn’t ready to give up nicotine completely. So, she gave up tobacco instead by trying out the electronic cigarettes. After she adjusted to the e-cigs, she cut down her usage, and eventually stopped smoking altogether. She’s been smoke-free for three years.
And lastly, there’s hypnotherapy. This is a relatively new method, and there are multiple types of therapies. Because of this, no official studies have been completed. However, despite the lack of studies, the success rate has been charted somewhere between 50-60%.
The point of hypnotherapy is to change your behavior. When you’re trying to quit smoking, hypnotherapy strengthens your desire to quit, while at the same time tweaking your desire to smoke. My best friend went to a hypnotherapist about a year. He’d been smoking steadily since we were in high school and had tried to quit five times before. He never made it past two or three months before, but he passed his year mark last month.
If you have a desire to quit smoking, you can do it. All you have to do is find the way that works best for you. Maybe it’s one of the alternative methods mentioned above. Regardless of the method you choose to quit smoking, I wish you the best of luck in your new, smoke-free life.