Tell me lies about nicotine

by Chris Holmes

When I was growing up in the 1960s smokers did NOT think they were drug addicts. Smoking was a habit – perhaps a dirty one, but just a habit nevertheless – and the concept of nicotine replacement products like gum and patches did not exist. But the concept of nicotine replacement did!

The idea of substituting one form of nicotine for another was not conceived originally as ever leading to a saleable product to help people quit, but as “proof” that tobacco smoking was a drug addiction and that the “need” was specifically a need for nicotine. And it was not conceived by any special expert in addiction studies, but by a Scottish General Practitioner called Lennox Johnston.
Now I know that you’ve probably never heard of Lennox Johnston – hardly anyone has – but through the 1930s, 40s and 50s he was busy driving the British Medical Association mad by being well ahead of his time on the subject of tobacco and lung cancer. In 1942 he published an article in The Lancet which declared tobacco smoking to be the main cause of lung cancer, long before it was finally established as the truth in 1969.

The Medical Establishment don’t like being told things by underlings, and Johnston was by no means a member of the Establishment. He wasn’t even English, for God’s sake! So they weren’t going to listen to him or allow him to have credit for anything. He was repeatedly refused funding to conduct research into the link between smoking and lung cancer, which was given instead to Richard Doll and Bradford Hill.

Meanwhile Johnston was also experimenting with pure solutions of nicotine, regularly injecting himself with the stuff and twice nearly dying as a result because nicotine is extraordinarily poisonous even in tiny quantities. Later he assembled 35 “volunteers” who were habitual smokers and gave them regular injections of nicotine whenever they felt a desire to smoke. Some of them came, in time, to prefer the injection to the cigarette – just as we see some smokers, today, coming to prefer the vape stick to the cigarette, or the nicotine lozenge, or the mouth spray or whatever.

So: case closed! Nicotine is what smokers desire and any form of nicotine will do – right?

Trouble is, it doesn’t work. In January 2012, Harvard University published a study that confirmed my own published claims from five years before, namely that Nicotine replacement therapy DOESN’T WORK AT ALL. They looked at the success rates of all the nicotine products at the one year mark and found that the success rate (6%) was exactly the same a willpower alone. This is because smoking isn’t a drug addiction, it’s a compulsive habit.

New Studies Back the Truth Will Out Campaign on Nicotine

By hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

Tel Aviv University and Harvard University Studies Back Up Truth Will Out

Ready for the proof?  Back in May 2008, I launched this public awareness campaign and made three controversial announcements: first, I said that smokers’ cravings are NOT connected to nicotine – that smoking was a compulsive habit, not a drug addiction.  Secondly, that Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was bogus and doesn’t work any better than willpower if we look at the results at six or twelve months, so it should be completely discredited and scrapped.  Thirdly – and perhaps most controversially of all – that nicotine is NOT A DRUG AT ALL, just one of the many toxins in the smoke and the wrong explanation of compulsive smoking behaviour.  Craving signals drive smoking behaviour; no-one is really smoking for the effects of nicotine, even if they currently believe that they are.

Some interested parties tried to insist that numerous studies had shown NRT to be effective, so we obtained those studies from the UK
Department of Health.  They showed no such thing.  What they actually revealed was that the quit-rate for NRT at one-year follow-up was a mere 6%, and that it stayed about the same across every independent study (and is accepted as such by the Royal College of Physicians), but the figure for willpower alone varies from 2% to as high as 8% or more, depending on which study you look at.

This means it is easy enough for those promoting nicotine products or defending current government policy to compare the 6% NRT figure to
the 2% figure for willpower, and claim that smokers are “3 times as likely to succeed with NRT than without it”, or “twice as likely” if the study you select says 3% success for willpower.  In truth, any one-year-success-rate for smoking that comes in at under ten per cent is showing no statistically significant advantage, and therefore isn’t worth a dime of anyone’s money – especially not NHS cash or any other public money,
when it is so badly needed elsewhere.

Claim No. 1:  Two years after I said that craving signals are an aspect of compulsive habits, and nothing to do with nicotine, researchers at the University of Tel Aviv conducted a study which came to exactly the same conclusion:

http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=12531

Claim No. 2:  Three years after I first claimed that NRT doesn’t work any better than willpower in the long run, and is therefore medically useless, researchers at Harvard University, Massachusetts conducted a study that came to exactly the same conclusion, published this week:

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/01/nicotine-letdown/

 

What have the manufacturers of NRT tried to claim in response?  That “numerous scientific studies show that smokers are twice as likely to succeed with…”   Sorry guys! We’re on to you now.  And we also now know that NRT was originally approved on the basis of its performance at only six weeks, not six months or one year – so it was always bogus.  And here’s why it doesn’t work:

Claim No.3:  Remember where you heard it first.  Nicotine isn’t a drug, it’s a poison.  There’s no high, it doesn’t intoxicate or do
anything much at all, which is why smokers are still allowed to smoke tobacco and drive cars, or smoke tobacco and then fly an aircraft.  It’s not drug taking, it’s just a habit – as indeed Dr Reuven Dar concludes in the Tel Aviv study:

“Dr. Dar’s studies conclude that nicotine is not addictive as physiological addictions are usually defined…  it’s not an addictive substance like heroin, which creates true systemic and biologically-based withdrawal symptoms in the body of the user, he says…

“Once the habit is established, people continue to smoke in response to cues and in situations that become associated with smoking. Dr. Dar believes that understanding smoking as a habit, not an addiction, will facilitate treatment. Smoking cessation techniques should emphasize the psychological and behavioral aspects of the habit and not the biological aspects, he suggests.”

Yes – just as I said in 2008.  But it’ll be a while yet before the world comes to realise that nicotine was never a drug in the first
place.  Science has a bit of catching up to do yet.

How did I know all this, even years before this research was carried out?  Because as a smoking cessation specialist I’ve been shutting
compulsive habits down with hypnotherapy for over a decade, usually in just one session, and without any reference to ‘nicotine receptors’ dopamine levels or any of that half-baked NRT marketing woffle.  I know exactly what I’m doing, and I can explain it all easily.

*Update 18/01/12:  NiQuitin’s latest poster campaign in the UK is quite amusing, they’re not promising much!  “No other patch is more effective”!  No, that’s true.  But “No other patch is effective either” would have been less slippery, whilst being equally true.  Time for the N.H.S. to drop the poison patches, isn’t it folks?  It would immediately save hundreds of millions they could be spending on useful things like kidney dialysis machines and scanners.

If you would like to know more about hypnosis, hypnotherapy and where I’m coming from, it’s all available here.

 

This Blog is about Nicotine, Not Champix!

by Chris Holmes

OK it is time to get focussed! When I launched the Truth Will Out Campaign back in March 2008, it was to blow the whistle on the Global Nicotine Scam, not to spend the rest of my working life discussing Champix… or Chantix to give it the alias it goes by in the United States.  Varenicline.  Doesn’t matter what you call it, it still doesn’t work very well unless what you’re after is a mental breakdown and the loss of everything that is dear to you.

That drug is based upon the notion that smokers smoke because of nicotine – an idea which doesn’t stand up to any serious scrutiny, it’s just that no-one was scrutinising it until I published Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was in 2007.

Since then, a study done by Dr Reuven Dar from Tel Aviv University’s Psychology Department (link follows) has confirmed exactly what I was saying in that book: namely that smokers’ cravings are not withdrawal symptoms, and indeed are not related to nicotine levels in any way. Smoking is NOT a drug addiction, it just looks like one if you don’t know the difference between an addiction and a compulsive habit. And doctors currently do not, which is why I wrote the book. To understand the difference, you need to understand how the human Subconscious mind organises and repeats compulsive habitual behaviour. As a hypnotherapist, I’ve spent more than a decade shutting down habits like that with hypnotherapy, usually in one session.

I have done that with thousands of individuals, one at a time. It is not a trick. It is not a parlour game. It is a process of communication and anyone can respond to it if they choose. It is all explained in the book – available as a paperback (£16.95) or a download (£5).  The fact is, both Champix Chantix and Nicotine Replacement Products are all based on a myth in the first place, and that is why they usually fail.  Shame that smokers usually blame themselves for that failure, when they should be blaming those lousy methods!

the book that blew the whistle on the nicotine scam

The Science

more about hypnotherapy
…and then there is this!  We are quite simply right about this.  Sorry, Doc! Sorry, NiQuitin!  The Nicotine Tale turned out to be an embarrassing medical error leading to a collosal global scam.

Volume II of Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was

Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was (Volume II) A Change of Mind has just become available today.

Read what the critics thought of Volume I:

“The author’s case is simple: nicotine is not addictive, and he makes a
strong case in support of his argument… Numerous asides to various issues
undoubtedly made for a more entertaining read… It’s not often that parts
of a book on a very serious subject have me by turns howling in laughter and
clapping in appreciation of the author’s attention to detail – this one did
both. This has the potential to be a landmark book, and as such deserves a
wide audience.”
Michael O’Sullivan, Hypnotherapy Articles

“Holmes provides “Case Mysteries” as interludes between his chapters and
these are highly entertaining and illuminating. One such interlude
de-constructs the work of Allen Carr, a British smoking cessation guru. By
the time Holmes is done with Carr, there is not much left; it’s a great read
that made me laugh out loud… in the end, the arguments make sense. Just as importantly, they are presented in an entertaining and insightful way,
making this book useful to hypnotists and those who would like to stop
smoking. I’d like to check out Volume II when I get a chance.”
James Hazlerig, RealHypnosisReviews.blogspot.com

Well here it is, James – and only two years late! Enjoy.

If you just want to quit smoking in two hours, read this.

I see what you’re saying, but…

Addiction. It’s a well-established notion. It’s simple, you see. If you can’t stop doing something, then you’re addicted to it! Must be. Otherwise you’d stop. If you say you’re going to stop doing something, but then you don’t – if the ‘thing’ (alcohol, gambling) apparently overrides your conscious recognition that you’d be better off not doing it, then the ‘thing’ must be controlling you: addiction!

But doesn’t that assume that your conscious mind normally directs all your behaviour? In denial of a Subconscious mind, in fact?

So Lizzie has finished with Malcolm, because he’s a rat. On a conscious, rational level she KNOWS she shouldn’t ring him, but as the days go by there are these frequent urges (it’s the craving system again) to pick up the phone. Sometimes she does – then she puts it down again. Nobody has told her Subconscious mind about the new Don’t Ring Malcolm policy, that was a meeting that took place on a conscious level and the minutes of the meeting haven’t been passed on to the Emotional Department. So there is a battle going on within her mind between the conscious intention to leave it at that, and the emotional Subconscious which keeps harking back to happier moments and wondering what all this unnecessary isolation is supposed to be about … good luck, Lizzie’s conscious mind. You’re going to need it, because I always put that capital ‘S’ there for a reason. It signifies something pretty important.

Gina has made a conscious decision to go on a diet, forsaking all things creamy and sugary. There’s a new regime, and the conscious mind is all signed up to it for the next few months. Trouble is, her Subconscious mind signed up to nothing, and doesn’t know anything about this. So after a week or two with no cake, no biscuits – no chocolate – Gina’s Subconscious mind is thinking: “What’s happened to all the biscuits and chocolate all of a sudden?” and starts sending reminder signals (cravings, memories and dreamy thoughts, a bit like the Marks and Spencer adverts on TV: “This isn’t just a chocolate eclair! This is an M & S chocolate eclair, with Belgian chocolate and thrice-whipped cream from hand-milked Grecian cows…” Meanwhile Gina’s poor little conscious mind is trying to insist that a Weightwatchers caramel bar will do just as well. Good luck, Gina’s conscious mind!

So: the heroin addict that promised to stop taking heroin but did not stop, that’s because they are addicted. Their body needs the heroin. Simple concept, the heroin’s to blame – blame the heroin. Ban it.

The gambler who promised and promised to stop gambling but did not stop, that’s because they are addicted. Their body needs… hang on – no drug! And yet the behaviour is very similar, is it not? Promises broken, lies, deceit, theft? Seemingly unable to stop doing this, even if it costs them a marriage, a business, custody of the kids? Some gamblers end up suicides.

And what about Duncan’s compulsive urge to pick his nose? Doesn’t matter how often he’s told… Is he addicted to it? Or Edwina’s nailbiting, Stuart’s shoplifting, Amanda’s nymphomania? Addicts, all?

Convenient hook, isn’t it, the word “addiction”? Useful shorthand term for all sorts of things. Now, once or twice readers of this site have referred to my “theories” about these things, which bugs me because I DO NOT theorize. All my observations have come about through practical hypnotherapy with thousands of individuals who have smoking habits, gambling habits, drinking habits, drug habits, bad eating habits and yes – nailbiting too. And the ONLY ONE that I cannot shut down with a single session of hypnotherapy is: heroin. That, I believe, comprises a genuine physical dependence, combined with compulsive habit, and very often with an emotional complication too.

All the others can be eliminated without withdrawal and without relapse in many cases too, which proves that they never were addictions, they just looked like addictions. They are compulsive habits. See Read The Book for more info.

how to ditch a compulsive habit safely in two hours

Cravings Are Not Withdrawal Symptoms

by Chris Holmes

** Update 16/07.10: There is a link in the third comment at the end of this article to the website of Action on Smoking and Health (A.S.H.) which refers to a study on cravings that confirms exactly what I’m talking about here. God knows I never expected ASH to confirm or agree with anything I say, because they have staunchly defended and promoted Nicotine Replacement products until now, but maybe everyone involved in that is getting ready to admit that NRT is a complete waste of money because it’s based on a myth, just as I’ve been saying all along. Now watch them immediately start promoting some other pharmaceutical instead, instead of admitting openly how WRONG they were all this time about hypnotherapy, the Allen Carr approach, acupuncture… no, it’s chemicals, chemicals chemicals all the way!

Anyway enjoy the article!

Cravings Are Not Withdrawal Symptoms

Whether you are a smoker or not, you know what a craving is because we all get lots of cravings, they are not all about tobacco. In hypnotherapy we shut down cravings for all sorts of things routinely: smoking is just one example of that. If anyone reading this doesn’t believe that it is simply because they haven’t experienced it themselves, but it’s an everyday occurence for hypnotherapists – I’ve been doing this for the last ten years. Easily demonstrated too.

For several decades now, smokers have had it drilled into them that smoking is “nicotine addiction, nicotine addiction, nicotine addiction”. Yet for most of the time people have been smoking tobacco in Europe it has simply been regarded as a filthy habit. Odd references to “addiction” have occured down the ages but that is partly due to the unclear meaning of the term, which has often been confused with Compulsive Habit anyway. But I can easily explain why smokers’ cravings cannot possibly be withdrawal symptoms and are not related to nicotine levels in the blood anyway.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I know from my own experience as a smoker in the past that trying to quit smoking with willpower alone – or with nicotine replacement products, Zyban or Champix – CAN be a real struggle, or even seem impossible. According to the U.K. Government’s own commissioned studies into the long-term outcomes of those methods (which the National Health Service recommend) the chances are very much that your success – if any – will be temporary. What smokers don’t realise is, that is NOT because it is really hard to stop smoking, it is because those methods are all based on a myth: “addiction” to nicotine.

If cravings were withdrawal symptoms you would experience them at their worst when the nicotine level was lowest, which would be first thing in the morning if you are a typical smoker. No nicotine has been taken into the body for hours, so those “nicotine receptors” should be “going crazy” the moment you’re awake. Yet most smokers do not even keep tobacco by the bed. So there is a gap – an elapse of time – between the moment they open their eyes, and the moment when they first light up a cigarette.

Of course, there are a few smokers who light up before they get out of bed but I think everyone is aware that this is not the norm. The majority of habitual smokers will normally get up, go to the bathroom, maybe have a shower, go downstairs, put the kettle on, feed the cat… all the time feeling perfectly normal. They are not climbing the walls desperate for nicotine. But why not? They haven’t had any nicotine for hours! IF THE URGE TO SMOKE WAS REALLY A WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOM, THAT WOULD BE THEIR WORST MOMENT.

Also, many smokers feel an urge to pick up a cigarette when they have just put one out, such as when drinking, socialising or if bored. That urge is compelling, but it cannot be withdrawal because the nicotine level in the blood is still high from the previous cigarette. A “withdrawal symptom” is an experience caused by nicotine withdrawing from the system, which only happens later. Another clear indicator is the fact that the urge to smoke will vanish in particular circumstances regardless of falling nicotine levels: many smokers never smoke outside or in the street, so if they go out shopping they don’t want one. Gardening, playing sports… hours may go by, nicotine levels fall away – no symptoms, no “withdrawal”. This is because cravings are not linked to nicotine levels at all. They are compulsive urges prompting the usual habitual behaviour, but ONLY if it is a) possible, b) appropriate and c) convenient.

So if you get on a plane – as long as you’re okay with flying and don’t seriously object to the smoking restriction – you will find that nicotine levels can fall and keep on falling, and hey presto! No pesky withdrawal symptoms! Likewise if you board a bus, ride on a train, walk into Sainsburys or a cathedral, step into an operating theatre or meet the Queen… the brain knows this is NOT A SMOKING OPPORTUNITY so it doesn’t send the signals until you LEAVE that situation and a smoking opportunity presents itself.

Now, I need hardly point out that the social restrictions I’ve just described require INTELLIGENCE, SOCIAL KNOWLEDGE AND DISCERNMENT to distinguish between, and I doubt if any scientist is going to suggest that the nicotine receptors in the brain possess such complex abilities such as would be required to appreciate the shifting rules and mores of modern society. No, they were simply supposed to “go crazy” due to the falling level of nicotine specifically – NOT the fact that you’re chatting to the Queen, halfway to Cyprus or admiring a beautiful stained-glass window.

Real drug addictions are totally different. If a heroin addict gets on a plane and the level of heroin in the blood falls low THEN THEY ARE ILL, it doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing. They couldn’t make out like they were fine even if they were talking to HRH.

Interested? Want to know more about what’s really going on with cravings? Click on the Read The Book section of the site, and when the Contents page appears, read a bit more. If you want to read all of it, click on Buy The Book. £16.95 for the paperback, or just £5 for the full download version. If you don’t like buying on-line, contact me directly for the other options.

I shut down smoking habits in a single session routinely. You can’t do that with a heroin addiction. I’ve tried. If you smoke tobacco you are NOT a drug addict, and that’s why the nicotine-based approaches rarely work except in the short-term. And that’s down to willpower mainly. The real solution is hypnotherapy, and there will come a time when that is simply common knowledge and everyone will understand that all this endless hype about “nicotine addiction” was just a simple mistake which turned into a gigantic moneyspinner for the drug companies at the taxpayers’ expense.

Lennox Johnston – Nicotine Man!

An excerpt from Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was (Volume II: A Change Of Mind) by Chris Holmes

ii). The tobacco story has so many curious twists and turns that I am never really surprised when another one pops up. In Volume One I mentioned that I hadn’t quite managed to discover exactly when the “nicotine addiction” story started, as an interpretation of compulsive use and I suggested that if anyone was intrigued about that then they should keep digging and if they found anything enlightening to let me know. This inspired Chepstow-based hypnotherapist Marc Bishop to investigate further and he contacted me recently to tell me about Lennox Johnston, of whom I had never heard.

The fact that I had never heard of him is interesting in itself, because it turns out that Lennox Johnston – and be honest, you’ve never heard of him either, right? – was the first person to use nicotine in isolation to offset the impulse to reach for tobacco. In other words he invented Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) – the very thing my book denounces. Now, NRT is prescribed and sold all over the world, so if we all know about innovators like Alexander Fleming and Louis Pasteur, how come Lennox Johnston is never mentioned when people talk about NRT?

Actually it is probably because he was a bit like me: he made a bit of a nuisance of himself and everybody thought at first that he was wrong… which causes me to feel a certain, odd kinship with the chappie even though he is very much my adversary in this argument, for am I not in a very similar position here, trying to explain why smoking is not what most people presently think it is? Here is an extract from Johnston’s typical pronouncements to the editor of The Lancet circa 1953:

“I think it more sensible and scientifically satisfying to recognise tobacco-smoking as a drug addiction from start to finish. It varies in degree from slight to serious. The euphemism “habit” should be discarded completely… no smoker derives positive pleasure and benefit from tobacco. The bliss of headache or toothache relieved is analogous to that of craving for tobacco appeased.”

It is immediately clear that Allen Carr’s later observations in The Easy Way To Stop Smoking have their origins here in Lennox Johnston’s view, although I doubt Carr had ever heard of him either. He certainly never mentioned him in any of his own writings to my knowledge.

So what did the medical profession think of Johnston’s insistence that tobacco smoking was a drug addiction in the 1950’s? Well, we have managed to find this frank repudiation by none other than the Honorary Secretary of the Society for the Study of Addiction, one H. Pullar-Strecker, in response to Johnston’s assertions:

“Much as one may ‘crave’ for one’s smoke, tobacco is no drug of addiction. Proper addicts… will stop at nothing to obtain the drug that their system demands imperatively.”

Smokers often tell me that they are puzzled by the fact that although they wouldn’t normally go for nine hours without a cigarette during the day, when they are on a plane it doesn’t seem to bother them until they land, or very shortly before they land. The only exceptions seem to be smokers who resent the restriction, or have a problem with flying anyway. Likewise we hear of smokers seemingly untroubled by cravings during a spell in hospital, or more ordinarily whenever they go anywhere where smoking is commonly accepted as being out of the question, such as Mothercare or the Finsbury Park Mosque. It seems that as long as the smoker accepts that restriction, there will be no urge to smoke until they leave that situation. That is certainly not withdrawal, and falling nicotine levels in the body during the nine-hour flight (for example) are clearly irrelevant. The “nicotine receptors” in the brain are hardly in a position to appreciate the smoking ban on aircraft – or observe it – so this certainly begs the question “Why are they not ‘going crazy’ – as the NRT advert would have us believe is the cause of smokers’ cravings – in all of the situations mentioned above?” For of course Pullar-Strecker was right: the heroin addict cannot do that. If a heroin addict gets on a plane and the heroin level in the blood falls low then they are ill, it doesn’t matter what they are doing or where they are situated. That’s withdrawal.

Lennox Johnston was a Glaswegian GP who had been a smoker himself and according to his obituary in the British Medical Journal (Volume 292, dated 29/03/86) he quit smoking twice. It relates how he pondered his compulsion to continue smoking and “wondered what would be the effect of stopping” – only to find that it proved easier than he expected. A year or so later, he started smoking again and after that it took him “two agonising years” to give up.

Later he became an anti-smoking campaigner and began to experiment with pure solutions of nicotine which he often administered to himself, once with near-fatal consequences. He also wrote to The Lancet describing an experiment he devised himself which involved about thirty smokers who apparently allowed him to inject them with nicotine whenever they felt the urge to reach for tobacco, which Johnston claimed then subsided. Although this certainly does not qualify as a bona fide clinical trial, it can be regarded as the first ever attempt to trial nicotine replacement as a concept. The Lancet published Johnston’s letter, and so began the biggest medical mistake of the 20th Century – though of course, everyone thought he was wrong at the time.

Well – not quite everyone. Throughout the history of tobacco-smoking in Europe there have been occasional voices calling it an “addiction”, though quite what those individuals thought that term really meant is not easy to determine now. Yet for most of that history nearly everybody simply regarded it as a filthy habit – which is pretty accurate. A complex compulsive habit to be exact – for a full definition of that see Chapter Ten in Volume One, where I spell out the key differences between that and true drug addiction.

It is only very recently, in fact, that the “nicotine addiction” interpretation has become the general impression, and not everyone believes it even now. There have always been voices in the scientific community who have pointed out the inconsistencies, but they couldn’t explain the compulsive element because they didn’t have the key knowledge of the normal operations of the human Subconscious mind and how it organises and activates compulsive habitual behaviour. So they got shouted down – as did the tobacco companies who tried to point out that other habitual behaviours that did not involve any substances – such as shopaholics and compulsive gamblers – seemed to be of a similar order, but eventually they too accepted the new doctrine and dropped the argument. Not because it was invalid, but because they were pretty much on their own at that point, the anti-smokers were on a roll and have been ever since.

Factually, the tobacco companies were right… but because smoking is damaging to health they didn’t have a chance of getting their point heard as the scientific proof of real harm emerged during the 1960s and has continued to be the justification for everything that has changed since. Every anti-smoking policy or restriction that has been introduced since then has been justified with a reminder of the enormous harm tobacco smoking does to human health.

It’s a pity it never occurred to Lennox Johnston to wonder why he found it surprisingly easy to quit the first time, but it took “two agonising years” the second time. Surely the role of nicotine was the same in both cases and what that gives us straight away is the clue that nicotine isn’t the difficulty: the perception of ‘ease’ or ‘difficulty’ – even ‘agony’ – results from other variables, and that’s why expert hypnotherapy can usually resolve the matter on a single occasion but NRT does not.

The medical establishment thought Johnston was wrong, in fact they ignored him for years and don’t even talk about him now. The tobacco companies thought it was just a habit, as did virtually all smokers at the time. Some still do, despite all this mad nicotine propaganda that is really just marketing for NRT dressed up as medical orthodoxy.

The irony is, the medical establishment were in fact quite correct in the first place. So now it seems as if I’m the mad eccentric, when all I’m pointing out is exactly what everyone knew anyway before Lennox Johnston came along. If they had only stuck to their initial assessment that he was the mad eccentric, then they could have remained quite correct all along and we could have avoided this crazy detour around and around and around the poison nicotine, which is not the real reason people struggle to quit through their own efforts, as I explained in Volume One.

Lennox Johnston lived until he was 86, surviving long enough to see his initially-scorned pronouncements adopted as the standard medical view. By mistake.

Doubt if I will live long enough to see it corrected. Probably won’t get the credit either – but then, neither did Johnston -which is why none of us had ever heard of him!

more info about hypnotherapy for smoking

Nicotine: The Weird (Non) Addiction

by Chris Holmes

Now Meet Doug Wilson

What have I been saying all this time?  That tobacco smoking has been MISTAKEN for an addiction but is really just a compulsive habit.  How did I discover this?  By finding that a single hypnotherapy session can shut it down easily, cravings and all, with no weight gain and no side effects.  This I have done with thousands of smokers over the last ten years.  I am also trying to explain to the world that cravings are not withdrawal symptoms and that they are unconnected to nicotine levels in the system, which is why a smoker can get an impulse to reach for a cigarette when they have recently put one out (eg. when bored or whilst socialising) or whilst wearing a nicotine patch.

Another factor that helped me to understand the differences between a Compulsive Habit and a real drug addiction was my own personal experiences with real addictions and other compulsive habits – various drug habits, a drink habit and other, non-substance habits.  Here is another chap who has had similar life experiences which have caused him to notice the curious differences between drug addiction and a tobacco habit.  As you read this, note particularly how Doug has realised that the “I want a cigarette” impulse (craving) is not the same as withdrawal, and once he has actually lit it he often finds that he doesn’t “want” it much at all, and often doesn’t finish it.  He can’t explain that, but I can: cravings feel like a need or a desire, but they are really only mimicking bodily needs.  The Subconscious is sending a ‘prompting’ signal to repeat the habitual behaviour, but it sends it via the body, using the body as a signalling system to convey an impression to the conscious awareness that something is ‘desired’ or ‘needed’, when in fact only the signal makes it seem so.  It is VERY effective, but because the signal is only prompting the smoker to pick up the cigarette and light it, as soon as that is done the signal disappears.  The rest of it is smoked out of a mixture of habit and expectation, but already the compulsive urge (sense of need) is gone.  That’s why some smokers put it out halfway through or even put it down in an ashtray and forget all about it.

We get lots of cravings, they’re not all about tobacco.  They are compulsive urges, not withdrawal symptoms.  Read what Doug says about withdrawal.

Not a Bodily Need

Don’t get me wrong, cravings can certainly FEEL like a physical need – and that can be utterly, utterly convincing but if it were true, it would still be there after the hypnotherapy session but it’s not.  Now read this bit from Doug again:

“The part I don’t like about “I’m quitting” is the “I want a cigarette voice”. It seems inconsequential. But what are the symptoms of schizophrenia? The voice can drive you nuts. The voice – is awful. You’d think, with the amount of work I do on my brain and the amount of writing I do on the subject I’d have a plan. Nope. I have people call me and write me for help with addictions. They ask for help understanding the brain and I offer them what I’ve come to understand. I know it’s just a voice. I know it’s just my brain. I know I won’t go clinically insane when I quit. I know that if have to listen to the voice say, “I want a cigarette”, a thousand times a day, I’ll be in better shape than I am now. You’d think I’d be anxious to get started. Nope. The voice sucks. It takes over. It hounds. Pesters. Grates. I get mad. I wanna smash it. I get annoyed, antsy, edgy and restless. But I don’t have a single physical withdrawal symptom. Weird.”

The Factual Explanation

The key is, the part of the brain sending the “I want” message is the Subconscious, and the decision to quit smoking was made by the conscious mind.  The Subconscious knows nothing about it.  All it knows is, you’re not responding to the prompting message so it sends another, and another… driving you up the wall until you want to smash something.  But along comes the Expert Hypnotherapist and explains the conscious decision to the Subconscious – and all the reasons for it (very important) – and the fact that tobacco companies were LYING when they told us all that tobacco was useful or pleasant in some way (even more important) and guess what?  The message STOPS.  And as long as the Expert Hypnotherapist makes it very clear that we don’t want that habit replaced with anything else (like food or chocolate), then that won’t happen either.  Nicotine has nothing to do with it.  The nicotine tale is a lie, and if it wasn’t for the loony GP I introduce in the next post, no-one would be regarding this particular habit as if it were a drug addiction anyway.

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The Drug That Never Was

Self-Administration Can Be Fun, Fun, Fun!

By Chris Holmes

The Non-Smoker Tries a Cigarette

Remember your first cigarette?  Or to be more precise, do you remember the first time you inhaled tobacco smoke properly and experienced the effect on the way you felt, physically and mentally?

If there was no alcohol in your system already at the time – or any other recreational drug like cocaine, amphetamine or cannabis – if you were – like myself – eight years old and hiding at the bottom of your friend Ian’s garden having helped him steal a (now rather crumpled) Embassy No.1 from his Mam’s packet, and a single match… after a few puffs on that, you may have felt like this:

Nauseous… head fuzzy… feel rather sick and faint… got that uncomfortable feeling like I don’t know where to put myself… feel really unwell… don’t feel safe… bowels churning… feel rotten, very definitely ill.  Poisoned.  Really want to feel normal again, regret trying this…

So I lay down on the grass and waited, feeling stunned and very sick.  It would be four whole years before I tried tobacco again.

Now of course, there are a lot of chemicals in tobacco smoke, not just nicotine.  But nicotine was certainly in there, and according to the British Medical Association’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary (Dorling Kindersley, 2002 – I have it open in front of me)… nicotine “stimulates the central nervous system, thereby reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, and improving concentration.”

Really?  Then how come I was lying there like a stuck pig watching the sky whirl round?  Also, why does the same medical dictionary include amongst the side effects of nicotine replacement therapy “nausea, headache, palpitations, cold or flu-like symptoms”?

After The Sly Smoke at School

As we headed back into the main building Stuart said, as he often did: “You know lads, I really feel ready for Double Physics now!  I feel energised, alert… the only problem is that my noticeably-increased powers of concentration might give me away this afternoon!  Better stash these cigs somewhere…”

It was a hazard of which we were all too keenly aware.  Anyone who works in a school will be able to spot the smokers – full of life, really alert, always concentratin’… come to think of it we had a bit of an unfair advantage, didn’t we?  No wonder we all did so well.

The Non-Smoker Tries A Nicotine Patch

Many years later, long after I had ditched tobacco I found myself putting the finishing touches to a book about nicotine and smoking (working title: Whose Stupid Idea Was All That Then?) when it suddenly occurred to me that although I had tried tobacco when I was a non-smoker and found it stunningly nauseating… experienced tobacco smoke as a regular smoker and grown accustomed to it but it never seemed beneficial… and also tried Nicotine Replacement Poisoning as a regular smoker and found it slightly weird and pointless, I had never tried nicotine alone as a non-smoker. What would it be like?  Perhaps, all those years ago in Ian’s garden I had been overwhelmed by all the other poisons in the smoke.  Maybe, if I just tried “therapeutic nicotine” all by itself, nicotine would indeed “stimulate the central nervous system, thereby reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, and improving concentration.” After all, that’s what the British Medical Association say it does.

The Experiment

So I obtained a single nicotine patch, a NiQuitin CQ 21mg 24-hour patch.  I also put by a pen and some paper upon which to make notes of the experience as I went along. I didn’t really intend to leave it on for the full 24 hours but I did aim to leave it on for most of the day, just to monitor the experience.  As it turned out, it didn’t quite happen that way.  What follows is directly quoted from Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was:

“This was at 10.15 on a Sunday morning, April 22nd 2007.  We were planning to take the kids to the park at about eleven, which I was looking forward to because it was a nice day.  This is an exact transcript of the notes I made at the time.

10.15 am.  Stuck patch on inside upper left arm.

10.20 am.  Tingling in both hands, mild tightening feeling in the throat.

10.25 am.  Feel nauseous, patch burning skin a bit.

10.30 am.  Feel like blood pressure is up, not a pleasant feeling.  Tense.  Uncomfortable, want to take it off actually.  More nauseous, feel a bit ill.  Patch really burning.  Bowels upset a bit.

10.35 am.  Head fuzzy.  Feel rather sick.  Got that feeling like I don’t know where to put myself.  Feel really uncomfortable and irritable now.

10.37 am.  Took patch off.  Don’t feel safe.  Big red mark on arm.  Hands/wrists aching.  Feel sick and faint, balance and even speech abnormal.  Wrists and hands quite red.  Bowels churning.  Feel rotten, very definitely ill.  Poisoned.  Really want to feel normal again, regret trying this.

10.50 am.  Still feel just as rotten, but feeling of real alarm that made me take it off now subsiding.  Just feel ill.

“The patch was only in contact with my skin for 22 minutes.  Before I began the experiment I felt fine – healthy and in good spirits.  Now I felt absolutely terrible, really unwell and although I don’t usually scare easy…” [as a former intravenous drug user over many years, I’ve done some pretty mad and dangerous things] “…actually afraid to leave the patch on any longer.  But here’s the thing – according to the B.M.A., nicotine:

“stimulates the central nervous system, thereby reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, and improving concentration.”

“So, did “therapeutic nicotine” make me feel more alert, able to concentrate better, as the B.M.A. described?  Well, by the time I took the patch off I was very nauseous, anxious, irritable and no longer able or willing to hold a normal conversation – so I would have to say no, it certainly did not.  Well, why not?  If that is what nicotine does, that is what it does.  I would have noticed.  It just made me feel poisoned, and actually it did remind me of the first cigarette I ever tried, when I was eight.  My pal Ian Coates stole a single Embassy No.1 from his mum, and we hid at the bottom of his garden and smoked it.  It left me feeling pretty much like the experience I described above, but with a foul taste in my mouth as well.  It was years before I tried one again, and even then it wasn’t because I liked it the first time.  It was just because I wasn’t allowed to, and because smoking makes you look grown-up and cool, despite being twelve and pimply with awful hair and silly clothes.  And feeling very queasy, if not actually vomiting.

“At eleven o’clock, we all left for the park.  Sure enough I felt very queasy, delicate and anxious that I might suddenly need the toilet – that IBS feeling.  I really didn’t want to go out at all now, I felt more like going for a lie down, which I hardly ever feel like doing even when I am ill.  Of course, some fool might suggest that the dose was too high for a non-smoker, or that I was irresponsible to try that without medical advice, as if that were the reason it made me ill.  But that’s ridiculous: none of us took medical advice before we tried our first cigarette, did we?  And very few kids start with a low-nicotine cigarette – certainly not my generation anyway, or the previous one.  So it was, in fact, an experiment that roughly replicated many initial, real smoking experiences but this time focussing entirely on nicotine itself – and guess what?  Nicotine just makes you feel ill, because it is nothing but a poison.  I’m not saying you can’t get used to it – professional boxers get used to being slammed in the face with a fist to the point where they hardly notice it, and I’m sure that stimulates the central nervous system too, but that don’t make it medicinal, baby.”

Talking of Crazy Experiments That Aren’t Exactly Scientific…

Who discovered penicillin?  That’s right, Fleming.  Who invented the hypodermic syringe?  Louis Pasteur, correct.  Both well known names in the history of medicine because the things they gave us are used by millions of people all over the world.  So: who invented nicotine replacement therapy?

You don’t know, do you?

Well, he was also the man who insisted that tobacco smoking was not just a filthy habit, as everyone had been quite happy to regard it for several centuries.  He insisted it was a drug addiction, and he claimed in a letter to The Lancet that he had ‘proven’ this by gathering together a group of 35 habitual smokers and – with their permission – injected them with 1mg of nicotine whenever they felt like they wanted a cigarette.  He insisted that because the impulse to reach for a cigarette then subsided, this proved that the reason they smoked was because they were addicted to nicotine.

The man was a Glaswegian GP called Dr. Lennox Johnston (1899-1986) and the main reason you have never heard of him is because everyone thought he was loopy.  He isn’t credited with inventing Nicotine Replacement Poisoning because he wasn’t suggesting using nicotine to get people OFF smoking.  In fact, that would be an insane suggestion from anyone who was insisting that the smoking problem was a result of addiction to that very poison.  No, he simply used that method to try to demonstrate his theory that smokers’ cravings are in fact a physical “need” for nicotine itself – but the experiment doesn’t even do that in reality.  If I had still been a smoker when I tried that patch experiment, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to smoke for quite some time after that, just as I never wanted one when I had a hangover or felt under par for any other reason.  Lennox Johnston’s 35 volunteers were habitual smokers so they were more used to being poisoned than I was, but if they didn’t feel much inclined to smoke for a bit after an injection of a lethal insecticide (nicotine) then we shouldn’t be surprised.

Short-term reactions to interventions of that sort are no proof of anything.  This is why the Advertising Standards Agency recently blocked an advert by the NHS Stop Smoking Services which tried to use reported cessation rates at four weeks as if they were real success rates.  They said it was misleading, and I have already shown in the Evidence section of this site how the difference between those short-term results and the real outcomes at a one-year interval can be as great as 90% short-term, falling to 8% by the end of the year we have to conclude that the ASA are right to object.

Since I started this Campaign in March 2008, I have often heard it suggested that NRT products have been ‘properly’ tested in scientific trials, so I must be talking nonsense when I say they are utterly bogus and have no long-term effectiveness to speak of at all.  Did any of those people suggesting that know that in the original trials that got NRT passed as if it were a medication in the first place, it was passed on the basis of it’s performance at SIX WEEKS.  In smoking cessation that is NOT proof of efficacy and it should never have happened at all.

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Remember When You First Started Smoking?

by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

This month, the readership of this site has absolutely gone through the roof – and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with Edzard Ernst!  Or at least, not much to do with him.  “Inconsistencies in the Addiction Story” is the page everyone is reading, and despite recent fuss over other pages this remains the most viewed page on the site after the homepage.

Smokers, I hope, are reading this.  Ordinary smokers and particularly those who would really prefer to be non-smokers but they don’t seem to be getting anywhere with willpower (though some do!) or any of the pharmaceutical aids.

Readership of this site has been steadily climbing every month since it was launched in March 2008, but it has suddenly doubled during March 2010, and that’s the post that did it.  The fact is, smokers have been told a load of misleading rubbish about the tobacco habit and far too many of them end up suffering and dying as a result. So a very warm welcome to all the new readers around the globe – read on, you don’t have to buy anything.

Early Smoking Experiences

There is an interesting difference in the way some of the smokers who have no intention of quitting anytime soon describe their early smoking experiences and the way my clients nearly always descibe them.  This shouldn’t surprise us because very few people are thinking positively about tobacco by the time they reach the hypnotherapy stage.

“What made you think of using hypnotherapy to quit?” I ask each new client, which is a way of assessing how many are direct referrals from previous clients, which is most of them.  If not, the usual response is: “Because I’ve tried everything else!”

Naturally, the first time a smoker attempts to quit the habit they are likely to try to do it all by themselves using willpower.  If that doesn’t work they are probably going to have a go with the thing that is most extensively advertised, namely nicotine replacement poisoning (NRT).  If they knew that it had pretty much the same long-term outcome as willpower they probably wouldn’t bother – but most of them do not, because that is a fact the Department of Health were trying to keep to themselves.

Then – once it became obvious NRT had no lasting effect – the smoker might try some of the pills, willpower again, a self-help book with a CD, NRT again in a different form, then eventually find their way to hypnotherapy.  “You’re my last hope!” is an expression hypnotherapists hear every other day.

Sometimes these smokers are beating themselves up about having ‘failed’ so many times.  Not so: they have been given the wrong information, and with the best will in the world thay have been trying to use that information to quit smoking.  It is the method that has failed, not the smoker.  In explaining this point to them, I often compare it to trying to open a combination lock.  If you have been given the wrong information you are going to struggle, and no amount of willpower is going to change that.  If someone suggests that the problem is that you’re just not trying hard enough, or you don’t really want to open the lock, they would be quite wrong.  Equally it might appear to either party as if it were “really difficult” to open a combination lock.  Which it is, if you have the wrong information.

But if you have the right combination, it’s a snap.

Then I explain to these smokers that they are, in fact, typical of the kind of people who successfully quit smoking.  “The ones who do not succeed either keep putting off the attempt – which you never did – only try once or twice and don’t have the heart to go for it again – you evidently don’t lack that – or decide in advance that there’s “no point” trying other methods because the first method didn’t work.  The fact that you’re here proves that you are not that poorly motivated or unimaginative.  In fact,” I conclude, rather to their surprise because they hadn’t really thought of it that way lately, “you are EXACTLY the sort of person who is going to succeed because you clearly won’t settle for anything less!”

That usually perks them up a bit, because right up until that moment they’d been giving themselves a hard time over it.

At some point in the conversation I will ask them to cast their mind back to their earliest smoking experiences, and put the question: “Do you remember why you were doing that, at the time?”  Never once in the ten years I’ve been helping smokers ditch the habit – and we’re talking about thousands of individual smokers here – never once has anyone said: “For the effects of nicotine.”

Next question: “Do you remember how it made you feel when you first learned how to inhale the smoke?”

Now it is not that unusual, if in conversation with a person who isn’t aiming to quit anytime soon, or has an axe to grind about alternative therapy, or is just cheerfully pro-smoking, to hear them declare: “Actually, I really liked it!  Yes, I took to smoking like a duck to water and I didn’t even cough! In fact I love nicotine so much that even during the night I have a couple of patches stuck to my forehead so I can dream that I’m smoking all night long!”

I’m sure you’ve met someone like that, but it is almost unheard of for that person to book a hypnotherapy session.  Nor should they, they’re obviously quite happy the way they are, being all ‘nicotine friendly’. And why not.

No, I only work with people who have already decided that they want to get rid of the habit, and they only give one of two responses to the question: “I don’t remember” or “It made me feel dizzy and sick”.  There are hardly any exceptions to this apart from the relatively few smokers who first tried tobacco when they already had alcohol in their system.  Some of those people will have experienced the effects of inhaling tobacco smoke much more like a ‘high’ than the rest, who just found it a sickening experience they don’t particularly enjoy recalling, so of course some of them don’t recall it.  This is normal – many people who didn’t have a very nice childhood will report that they don’t remember much about their childhood at all.

The Actual Effects of Nicotine

I ask all smoking clients: “Do you know what nicotine actually does?”  I have yet to encounter a smoker who does know.  The most common guess is: “I think it relaxes me, or something…”  Can we find a parallel in real drug use? A heroin user who doesn’t know what heroin does?  A coke-head that doesn’t know what cocaine does?  No, of course not!

If any future client were to confidently announce: “Why, yes!  Nicotine makes my heart beat faster than it should, reduces blood flow to my extremities which causes the poor circulation that can eventually result in amputation, and the combination of these two changes causes a rise in blood pressure.  It also raises blood fats levels, which is useless and possibly a contributory factor in heart disease, and finally it raises the risk of thrombosis!”

…then I would immediately ask them if they imagined for one moment that they were truly smoking for the effects of nicotine.

Smokers smoke because of cravings, that is true.  But cravings are nothing to do with nicotine or anything else in the smoke.  And we get lots of cravings, they’re not all about tobacco.  They are impulses from the Subconscious mind which prompt you to do what you would usually do at that moment or in that situation, and the factor that has confused everybody about cravings is that they are transmitted via the body and they are real physical experiences that can be mild or very unpleasant indeed, and they will always be interpreted as a ‘need’ or a ‘desire’.

If you respond, the signal will cease which is why it has been misinterpreted as a ‘withdrawal symptom’.  If you don’t respond you get another signal and they will often become more frequent and progressively more uncomfortable and distracting because the purpose of the signal is to distract you from what you are thinking about just long enough to recognise what the circumstances suggest (to the subconscious) you should do, and also to ‘prompt’ you to do something other than what you were already doing.  If you don’t respond the subconscious assumes you didn’t notice that signal so it sends another, more insistent one.

If you have made a conscious decision to stop smoking, the Subconscious doesn’t know, so it (quite innocently) keeps sending the reminders which the poor old conscious mind is now trying to ignore using willpower (conscious effort).  The problem with that is that willpower is an extra effort we don’t normally make, so you can’t keep that up.  You can do it for a while, but it is an effort!  And an effort that you cannot sustain so as soon as you run out of steam – or get distracted by something else – the smoking habit is simply reasserted by the Subconscious mind because those conscious efforts didn’t change anything about it, they were simply a temporary conscious effort to repress the behaviour by force.

If I were wrong about all of this, and it were all about drug dependence, addiction and withdrawal then all of my smoking clients would walk out of my office the same way they walked in.  As would the drinkers, the gamblers, the cocaine-users and the chocoholics… but they don’t.  Cravings and habitual behaviours can be shut down in a hypnotherapy session provided the therapist is a successful specialist in those matters and the client is quite happy to be rid of the problem and has chosen the hypnotherapy route willingly.  True withdrawal symptoms can not be shut down in that way.

In Chapter Ten of Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was I define the Compulsive Habit as distinct from addiction which is the big gap in the medical understanding of these matters, which has got all messed up with theories about dopamine etc. because an understanding of the Subconscious mind is not a part of their training, not is it part of our general education but it should be.  We were all raised and educated in the first place with no mention of a subconscious mind, which leads to the current generalised notion that the conscious mind is the mind and it doesn’t really like the idea that there is another one!  Which is why I repeat the observation in the book a number of times that “the conscious mind doesn’t really believe in the Subconscious mind, except perhaps in theory”.

And by extension, doesn’t really believe in hypnotherapy until the results are encountered for real.  It is not a magic trick.  It is not a parlour game. It is not mysterious in any way, it can all be explained and accounted for. It is not remotely dangerous or risky, but stage hypnosis unfortunately makes it look as if it might be which is why that always needs explaining before we start doing any therapy!

Hypnotherapy is often regarded as alternative medicine, which is wrong on two counts. Firstly, it is not alternative because it was officially recognised as a valid therapeutic approach by the BMA and also their American counterparts in the mid-1950s, so it is orthodox and it has been, and is, used in both medicine and dentistry, though nowhere near as often as it would be if it were not for all the misinformation, prejudice, unnecessary fear and ignorant scoffing that we have had to contend with for the last couple of centuries.  Secondly, although it has medical applications hypnotherapy is not medicine, it is 100% communication so it has more in common with educational procedures than medical ones, and the current, almost universal lack of understanding of the Subconscious mind is entirely down to the Subconscious-shaped hole in our traditional models of education.

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