How Not to Stop Smoking
If you’re a smoker trying, that is, failing, to stop, what help is out there?
The orthodox approach, promulgated by the medical profession, is called, curiously, nicotine replacement therapy. Does this mean nicotine is a replacement for something or is the nicotine going to be replaced with something? What is meant, of course, is cigarette replacement: cigarettes are replaced with a nicotine patch or chewing gum which enable the smoker to put nicotine into his or her body through the skin or lining of the mouth, respectively, instead of inhaling it with tobacco smoke. Therefore, it would better be called nicotine maintenance therapy. But what’s the good of that? If you want to stop smoking you presumably wish to be free of nicotine in any shape or form.
The idea, I suppose, is that you let yourself down gradually by using the cigarette replacement and then wean yourself off the gum or patch.
The main problem with this approach is the concept that if you stop smoking with the hindrance of the gum or patch, then – Bingo! – you’ll never want to smoke again. This implies that smoking is purely or mainly a physical problem. But even if you do stop smoking by using these nicotine-delivering substitutes for cigarettes, what’s to prevent you starting again?
Many smokers have the false perception that smoking is somehow pleasurable: ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a cigarette’. Or helpful: ‘I have so much stress I need a gasper to help me relax’.
This is not going to disappear as if by magic when you tear off the last patch or spit out the last piece of gum.
What, then, can one do?
Successful smoking cessation as taught by the Symonds Method, depends on gaining a proper understanding of why you really smoke, as opposed to why you think you smoke. With skilled counselling this can usually be achieved in one session, after which it’s easy to stop – and not want to start again. Furthermore, experience shows the best way to do this is without nicotine products, drugs, hypnosis, acupuncture, or aversion therapy – no horrible pictures! Smokers can be helped to develop a new attitude, based on the reality of smoking, after which they won’t want to do it any more.
Text © Gabriel Symonds