Let’s start with the use of the word “addiction”. In our culture it is used for a very wide array of human activities. Everything from facebook use, sex, and food to alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine has been called an addiction. Smoking is lumped in there as well. This implies that all of these activities, if done over and over again, have the same mechanisms of causation. I do not believe this is so.
The definition of the word addiction from dictionary.com is: “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”
I would like to separate out psychological from physical because the causes and hence the cures, or solutions, will be very different. For instance, if I have a habit of putting more weight on my left leg when standing, we wouldn’t call that an addiction, even though I do it over and over again and seem to have no control over it. If I consciously started to shift my weight to the right leg, I wouldn’t go through withdrawal because I suddenly started a new habit. There is no substance involved that my body has become dependent on.
In the case of smoking, we have a behavior that is connected with a substance that is consumed, tobacco. The common perception is that a particular substance in tobacco, nicotine, is responsible for the “addiction”. Because of the habitual nature of smoking it is assumed that the cause is nicotine. I would like to suggest nicotine does not play as significant a role in whether a smoker can quit as we have been led to believe.
If nicotine were the main factor then simply replacing nicotine with the patch or gum would do the trick. Yet, it is only a successful strategy in 12-15% of the time. Therefore there must be other factors involved in why people smoke; roughly 85% of the factors given the 15%, at best, success rate for nicotine replacement.
Another thought to consider. Most addictive substances create tolerance or resistance to that substance so that over time, more and more of the substance is needed to achieve the same result. Smokers tend to find one level, such as a pack per day, and stay with that same level forever. Whatever that level is, it remains constant. In other words, no resistance, or tolerance is developed.
Cigarette smoking is really a strong psychological habit. It involves long held beliefs, imbedded into the unconscious mind, that cigarette smoking is good for us. It is not the conscious rational mind that knows smoking is bad for us that is in charge. The unconscious mind is in charge. Because hypnosis deals directly with the unconscious mind this is why hypnosis works so well with helping people quit smoking easily, naturally and forever.