Smokers try usingtherapy to kick habit |

Smokers try usingtherapy to kick habit

Jeff Munson
Photo illustration by Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

When you’re stressed, they can calm nerves. If you’re hungry, they curb the pangs. And if you need energy to finish that TPS report, one or two and a cup of coffee will give the added jolt you need.

The only problem is, cigarettes kill. On average, they kill 440,000 Americans a year and drain $157 billion in medical costs and lost productivity, according to the American Cancer Society.

Thursday is the Great American Smokeout, a day designated nationwide to help addicted nicotine users stop. Many try to quit either through the help of a nicotine patch or nicotine gum.

Half of those who try to quit end up failing. The reason: They don’t have the tools necessary to quit.

One such tool for quitting is hypnotherapy, which has evolved over the years in not only curbing addictions but also to relieve pain, calm nerves and stop depression.

“People who come into my office are not stupid. They know they shouldn’t smoke. But they have developed deep associations with smoking,” said Gaye Wilson, a certified clinical hypnotherapist and registered nurse who will give a free public seminar at South Tahoe High School on Friday at 7 p.m.

As strange as it may sound, the association that Wilson refers to is what she calls “a friendship” between the smoker and the cigarette. Like a friend, a cigarette is there for them when they’re stressed or when they’re relaxed.

“When something happens at work or at home, whether it is a disappointment or something exciting, people turn to nicotine,” Wilson said. “Our intellect knows that a cigarette is an inanimate object, but cigarettes act as a friend because they are there for users whenever they have strong feelings or emotions.”

Because human nature tends to want to stifle stress or conflict by any means necessary, people reach for those things that make them feel, at least temporarily, better.

The problem is that too many reach for unhealthy things, like tobacco, when there are other methods to calming ones’ nerves. Wilson uses three therapy devices to help the user transition from their nicotine dependence. They are:

— The emotional freedom technique. This works along the same principles of accupressure by stimulating the body’s endpoints to relieve stress, get over phobias and overcome habits.

— A physical form of therapy to calm anxieties.

— Accupressure, which relieves cravings and habitual hunger.

“The therapies are all about dealing with feelings and emotions. What I do helps people neutralize the attachment to the habit and to the drug.”

Therapy requires repetition. Wilson not only teaches her clients to come up with a quit plan but the follow through, which is the hardest part. When a smoker who quits is stressed, it is all right for them to acknowledge they want the cigarette, Wilson said. But instead of reaching for one, she urges quitters to say the meditation: “I am now and forever a nonsmoker” followed by several deep breaths.

“Part of the association with smoking is inhaling,” Wilson said. “Taking in deep breaths when they have the urge gives the smoker the identity, only they are taking in clean air.”

To learn more about hypnotherapy and smoking cessation, contact Wilson at (530) 409-7511.

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