If smokers’ cravings were really withdrawal symptoms, they would get them at their worst when the level of nicotine was lowest – which is first thing in the morning when they open their eyes. In truth, most smokers do not keep cigarettes in the bedroom and don’t smoke straight away: there is a gap between opening their eyes, and lighting the first cigarette. For some it might be five minutes, for others, over an hour – but the point is, during that time they feel perfectly normal. So why are they not climbing the walls, desperate for nicotine? They haven’t had any for hours! Where are the terrible ‘withdrawal symptoms’?
by Chris Holmes
After the article appeared in the Stockport Express about the publication of Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was in early January 2008, I got an email from Vanessa Williams, Editor of the live Breakfast Show on Channel M (TV for Manchester!), asking if I would like to come on the show and talk about the book. I accepted, and the item was scheduled for Monday 14th January.
Items on breakfast telly are always short and sweet – the producers know you’re only watching this while you get ready for work, and they don’t want to hold you up with lengthy items that put the world to rights. So I knew I would probably only get the chance to get one good point across on this occasion, which was to point out that if smokers’ cravings were really withdrawal symptoms, they would get them at their worst when the level of nicotine was lowest – which is first thing in the morning when they open their eyes. In truth, most smokers do not keep cigarettes in the bedroom and don’t smoke straight away: there is a gap between opening their eyes, and lighting the first cigarette. For some it might be five minutes, for others, over an hour – but the point is, during that time they feel perfectly normal.
So why are they not climbing the walls, desperate for nicotine? They haven’t had any for hours! Where are the terrible ‘withdrawal symptoms’? I got that point across successfully within the four minutes we were allotted, and explained that we shut down the impulse to reach for tobacco in hypnotherapy, but that was about all we had time for really.
As that went well enough, later I was invited back onto the show and presented with a challenge in the form of the lovely Samantha, whom I had never met before, but who wanted to quit smoking. She worked for Channel M, but wasn’t present at my first visit. The idea was that we would do ‘before’ and ‘after’ appearances on the show, first with Sam talking about her current smoking habit, then (hopefully) about how she was a happy non-smoker after we had done the Stop Smoking session.
Now ask yourself this question: if hypnotherapy didn’t work, or only works if you are lucky – if it were no better than a placebo, or was pretty hit and miss – would I have accepted that challenge? I knew I was going back on that show a few weeks later to talk about the results – and even if I chose not to, they would be talking about the results anyway! Was I mad? What if it didn’t work?
So that second item was aired on the 29th of January, but it was 9th of February before we got around to doing the session at my offices here in Stockport. It all went fine, and we eventually scheduled the TV follow up for 12th March, which happened to be National No Smoking Day. Sam reported that the session had been immediately and totally successful, and just as I had said, there were no mood swings, no over-eating and no weight-gain. She had no desire to smoke under any circumstances and suffered no cravings.
Well, why not, Doc? What happened to the terrible ‘withdrawal symptoms’ listed in the medical textbooks? Why were Sam’s ‘nicotine receptors’ not “going crazy” like it says on the nicotine replacement poisoning ads these days? I’ll tell you: because suffering and struggle are only experienced if you don’t have hypnotherapy to shut down the craving signals. The impulse to reach for tobacco has nothing to do with nicotine. Whatever ‘nicotine receptors’ might actually be, they play no role in prompting smoking behaviour, and in hypnotherapy we routinely shut down smoking habits with no reference to nicotine receptors whatsoever.
The reason I was happy to accept that challenge – just one smoker, just one session – is because I knew from my personal experience of working with thousand of smokers that this is what usually happens when the job is done properly, so I was confident that I had a 70-30 chance in my favour of success, even with only one session. I reckoned it was worth the small risk to my personal credibility to demonstrate the truth to any smokers who might be watching.
It’s not a fluke. It’s not a miracle. It’s not some bizarre phenomenon. It is simply the easiest, quickest, safest and most intelligent way to eliminate nuisance habits – and it is high time that became common knowledge, and all this nonsense about nicotine was finally revealed for what it is: The Biggest Medical Mistake of the Twentieth Century.
Special thanks to Sam, Vanessa and all at Channel M in Manchester!
Chris Holmes has been Director of Central Hypnotherapy, Stockport, England UK since August 2000