Success with nicotine products

I hate to break this to you, smokers, but your government doesn’t want you to realise that NRT doesn’t work because they don’t really want you to stop smoking.

by Chris Holmes

A full eighteen months after Harvard University proved that nicotine replacement therapy “is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long term than trying to quit on one’s own”, we might wonder why smokers are still being prescribed these useless products at the taxpayers’ expense. This is no longer an “evidence-based” medicine – in fact it is not a medicine at all and never has been. There is no such thing as “therapeutic nicotine”.

“Therapeutic” means it does you GOOD!

Nicotine is a poison. All the effects of nicotine are toxic, but the drug companies that produce nicotine replacement products have been funding research for years now, trying to find another application for the products because they know it won’t be long before all smokers know it doesn’t work at all. Every now and then stories pop up in the press reporting that “research suggests” that nicotine patches “might be useful” for this, or “could be helpful” for that.

The problem with “research”

Let us not forget that it was “research” which suggested in the first place that nicotine replacement poisoning “might be” helpful to smokers. The trouble is, they only looked at the short-term effects. This is what passes for “science” nowadays because research like this is organised and funded by the companies that make the products, and all they’re after is a licence. So those short-term effects don’t have to be impressive, they only have to be slightly better than a control group using a placebo. This is easy to organise: you just run several groups at the same time, some with placebos and some with the product, using only small numbers of people within each group.

Cherry picking

Why small numbers? Because when you convert that number into a percentage later, you magnify it. Then you cherry pick both ways: you take the placebo group with the lowest number of successes, and the product group with the highest. The difference in real numbers of successes may be no more than a random anomaly really, but as soon as you convert both figures into percentages it looks like a very clear and positive result. Sometimes they even stop clinical trials early because they have achieved that already and they don’t want to blunder on long enough to run into nasty side effects or relapses that may occur in the long term. It is okay for the end-user to blunder into that sort of thing, but we don’t want it mussing up the trial data.


Did I mention that we exclude anyone from the trials who might be fragile in any way mentally or physically? Just in case they don’t respond very well or have a bad reaction that might mess up the trial and make the drug look dangerous. Of course the end-user isn’t protected by being excluded. Doctors will prescribe it with confidence to anyone, because they fondly imagine that it has been proven in the trials to be effective and safe. It hasn’t.

The truth about NRT

The cruel truth is that nicotine replacement products are still being fraudulently funded by public money and recommended to smokers because it creates the impression that the government is doing something about smoking but in reality it does not reduce the tobacco tax revenue by being effective in stopping people smoking. In fact that official endorsement legitimises a bogus product which can also be bought over the counter, and the government collect Value Added Tax (meaningless phrase that, isn’t it?) from the sale of those products. Also, promoting methods that actually work – such as hypnotherapy, for example – would save lives, meaning that more people would live to retirement age and start claiming a pension when there are frankly too many people doing that already…

The truth about the Department of Health

So that is why, when the science proved that every penny of public money spent on nicotine products is completely wasted, the government pretended not to notice, just as they did when their own research came to the same conclusions in 2005 (the Borland Report). I hate to break this to you, smokers, but your government doesn’t want you to realise that NRT doesn’t work because they don’t really want you to stop smoking. They want you to smoke, then try the nicotine gum, then smoke, then try the patches, then smoke, then try the lozenges, then smoke, then try the microtab, then smoke, then try the nicotine spray, then relapse into smoking again and hopefully this will have taken so many years that you ALMOST get to retirement age but not quite.

And then they want you to die. That is what “success with nicotine products” means to them.

New Studies Back the Truth Will Out Campaign on Nicotine

In May 2008, Truth Will Out stated that Nicotine Replacement doesn’t work at all, smokers’ cravings are not withdrawal symptoms and nicotine is not addictive – in fact it’s not even a drug. 2010: Tel Aviv Uni study confirms that cravings are not withdrawal and nicotine isn’t addictive, 2012 Harvard Uni confirms that NRT doesn’t work. Only one point still needs proving: nicotine isn’t a drug, it’s just a poison!

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:

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:


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.


Hypnotherapy to stop smoking: a few tips!

Professional advice for any smoker thinking of trying hypnotherapy to stop smoking. Handy tips to maximise your chances of immediate success.

by Chris Holmes

As more smokers become aware that Champix (or Chantix in the U.S.) is not so much a ‘Wonder Drug’ as a ‘Wonder If I’ll Just Get The Nausea, Or If I’ll Have A Complete Personality Change, Murder My Family And Then String Myself Up In The Garage’ sort of a drug, some of them are bound to also wonder if there are ways of quitting smoking that don’t involve gambling with your life.

There certainly are.  Not only that, they have proven to work better than any of the medications in the long run anyway (i.e. at the twelve month follow-up stage, by which time over 80% of Champix users are smoking again.)

Hypnotherapy, the Allen Carr method (which functions as a form of hypnotherapy anyway) and acupuncture all have proven hit-rates that beat the meds.  I have no connection with the last two, as I am a professional hypnotherapist specialising in smoking, alcohol, gambling and drug habits for over a decade… but I recommend them anyway because they have a proven track-record and they are SAFE.  In a moment I will provide some handy tips for anyone considering hypnotherapy.

Acupuncture: The key with this method seems to be to find an experienced practitioner who has worked with the smoking issue a lot.  I don’t pretend to know HOW it works, but it definitely works for some – and as it cannot damage you or make you go crazy it is well worth a shot if you haven’t tried it.  Surely it makes no sense to try any method that involves risk unless you have already tried all the ones that do not.

Allen Carr: He is no longer with us but his books are.  So are the group-therapy franchises that grew out of his own private sessions as a ‘therapist’.  In truth Carr set himself up as a smoking cessation therapist with no formal training of any kind, and one of his successes claimed that “he BORED me into quitting!”  This maybe reflects Carr’s tenacity and unshakeable belief in his own method, plus his tendency to go on a bit!  The group therapy sessions are four to five hours in length, ending with about 15 minutes of “hypnotherapy” from practitioners who are not really hypnotherapists.  The cost was around £250 last time I looked, which was a few years ago.  My advice is to read Carr’s original book first, the one that made him famous.  He self-published it originally, then it went on to sell millions of copies. It’s about six quid, and it’s called “Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking.”


1) If you have a bad attitude, you’re angry with the world or suspicious by nature and think everyone is out to cheat you, DO NOT ring a hypnotherapist.  You will not respond positively and then you’ll convince yourself it’s THEIR fault!  You COULD start by having therapy to fix your emotional issues, and then succeed normally with the smoking.  That would work, and it would also make you happier.  But it wouldn’t work the other way around.

2) For everyone else, hypnotherapy is the ideal way to ditch the habit effortlessly and with no weight-gain.

3) If the therapist is quoting fees that go over £200, find a different therapist UNLESS: you are rich and famous and/or the practice is located in Harley Street or whatever the equivalent of that is in your country.  (Where all the private doctors who “specialise in diseases of the rich”, as Tom Lehrer put it, have their offices.)

4) Some hypnotherapists will usually aim to do smoking cessation in one session, as I do.  Some don’t, and that’s okay as long as the overall cost of stopping smoking stays within that £100-£200 range.  Do not assume that if you pay top dollar you get the best therapist.  You just get the best-dressed therapist, with a Rolex.  Their overall success-rate won’t be any different to anyone else’s.

5) Your therapist should explain to you, in advance, that hypnotherapy is nothing like the experience you expect it to be.  Most clients are expecting to be asleep, or “away with the fairies” or something.  In fact, you feel perfectly normal.  You don’t “feel hypnotised” at all.  This is important to know in advance, otherwise the client may assume “it’s not working” which can affect their MOOD and therefore the outcome.

6) The ideal mood for hypnotherapy success is LOOKING FORWARD to that success.   A mood of positive, eager anticipation.  So if anything is bothering, worrying or troubling you during the session – anything at all – TELL THE THERAPIST IMMEDIATELY.   Interrupt the proceedings, ask, raise any questions you like.  Then they can deal with it, it won’t be a problem.

7)  The more positive you are, the better the result will be.

8) The more comfortable you are with the therapist, the better the result will be.

9) The more you are looking forward to being rid of tobacco, the quicker you will be.

10)  It does seem like nothing is happening during a hypnotherapy session.  Don’t let that bother you – all hypnotherapy sessions are like that.  You only notice the results afterwards.  ALSO: It does sound as if the hypnotherapist is simply telling you things you know already.  That is because your conscious mind DOES know those things already.  Hypnotherapy is an update for the Subconscious mind – which controls all habitual behaviour – to bring it up to speed with what the conscious mind has already learned.  So I tell all my clients:

“The trance part of the session does seem a bit boring!  And we use quite a bit of repetition when we talk to the Subconscious, so not only does it sound like I’m telling you things you know already, but several times over!  But it gets the job done, and that’s all that really matters.”

It also helps to know: how much clients relax varies enormously and doesn’t matter at all, and that the only thing that really matters is how you feel about what is being said to you about tobacco.  If you are in broad agreement with it, that’s acceptance and success should be immediate.

Finally: don’t ‘test’ the results by trying a cigarette.  Hypnotherapy shuts the habit and the cravings down.  Testing it by smoking simply starts them up again.  Further hypnotherapy will shut them down again, but it is cheaper to let sleeping dogs lie.

more about hypnotherapy  

the book that blew the whistle on the nicotine scam


Champix Chantix Success Report No.1

so I had to wonder why – four years after Champix was made available in the UK – a “wonder drug with a 50% success rate”, we were told – this was the first smoker I had ever met, professionally or socially, that reckoned they had quit successfully with Champix and without side effects.

I’ve met loads that haven’t succeeded with Champix, and about half of them said they had to stop taking it because it made them ill.

by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

Today I met someone who was successful with Champix.  This person had come to me for weight loss, and some of that weight gain had been as a result of stopping smoking.  The young woman – let’s call her Lucy – reported that although she had taken a course of Champix in 2010, and it “did nothing at all”, this year she was really determined and had told herself that: “This time the tablets WILL work… this time I’m definitely going to stop smoking!”  And indeed she did.

So – presumably – the first time around she did NOT tell herself that.  Maybe that’s why the tablets “did nothing at all”.  And – presumably – the tablets were made to the exact same specifications as the 2010 batch… dosage was the same, length of course the same… indeed the only factor that was different was her mental attitude and the positive suggestions she was giving herself.

Positive suggestions and mental attitude are what hypnotherapy are all about.  Essentially we do the same sort of thing but without the tablets, AND we include therapy to prevent the weight gain, which is easily avoided if your hypnotherapist knows what they’re doing.  I’ll soon reverse Lucy’s weight gain anyway, but we could have done the lot in one go if she’d come here in the first place.

But that’s not what prompted me to write this post.  What prompted me to write it was the realisation that Lucy was the first of my clients ever to report lasting success with Champix.  True, it had only been four months so far, but she was pretty confident she had it licked and I had no reason to doubt this.  Now, I meet a lot of smokers and ex-smokers in the course of my work, and of course we talk about these things all the time, regardless of what the session today is actually about, so I had to wonder why – four years after Champix was made available in the UK – a “wonder drug with a 50% success rate”, we were told – this was the first smoker I had ever met, professionally or socially, that reckoned they had quit successfully with Champix and without side effects.

I’ve met loads that haven’t succeeded with Champix, and about half of them said they had to stop taking it because it made them ill.

So when people contact the Truth Will Out site (occasionally) to report that they and their partner and their neighbour and all their 27 friends have successfully quit with Chantix or Champix… (and that all of them had previously tried hypnotherapy and failed! despite the fact that less than 1% of the population have ever consulted a hypnotherapist about ANYTHING)… I might be forgiven for doubting this tale, and wondering if this message really comes from some liar who sells Champix over the internet and is a bit worried about sales being not what they were now that smokers are beginning to twig that this “wonder drug” isn’t any better than the last one (Zyban), but it does seem to be WAY more harmful and unpredictable.

safer alternative

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,

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

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

Depression, Champix: Doctor, NO!

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my email and you may certainly reproduce it on your website using my full name, I’m happy to support your campaign as much as I can. I will also write a review on Lulu for the book. I always read the reviews so it is nice to have a recent one to read when making a decision.
Chris, I look forward to purchasing Vol. II and my dad is eagerly waiting for me to finish Vol. I so he can read it too ( he doesn’t smoke) as he is very interested in the smoke and mirrors that health professionals/Pharmaceutical companies pass off as fact to the public all in the name of profits.


*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

Rachel Whalen wrote:
Hi Chris,
I have had clinical depression from a very young age and over the years have
found a medication that lets me live a normal life. I work in an interesting
field (forensics) and have a loving home and family life. My doctor who issues
me with my medication offered, quite sincerely, to give me a script for Champix
to assist me when I asked about giving up the smokes. I was shocked that she
would do this knowing my history. Needless to say I told her I would get back to
her on that and promptly went home and started researching Champix in earnest
which is how I came across you site. I ordered your book from and am
now half way through it. What you are saying makes total sense to me
and I have
chosen a reputable hypnotherapist which I will be seeing in a few weeks. I am
really looking forward to stopping smoking and getting rid of that compulsive
behaviour the safe way. I can only imagine the kind of hell I could have
experienced had I just blindly took my doctors offer. Thank you, Chris.

Just in case anyone still doesn’t know, Champix should NOT be prescribed to anyone with a history of depression according to current medical guidelines. These are not the only smokers that have been severely affected by “psychiatric events” whilst taking Champix, but the risk is certainly higher. So why the hell is this happening over and over again all over the world? Don’t doctors bother to read the guidelines?

Anyway, I asked Rachel if it was okay to reproduce her email here – anonymously if she preferred, to which she replied today:

Hi Chris,

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my email and you may certainly reproduce it on your website using my full name, I’m happy to support your campaign as much as I can. I will also write a review on Lulu for the book. I always read the reviews so it is nice to have a recent one to read when making a decision.
Chris, I look forward to purchasing Vol. II and my dad is eagerly waiting for me to finish Vol. I so he can read it too ( he doesn’t smoke) as he is very interested in the smoke and mirrors that health professionals/Pharmaceutical companies pass off as fact to the public all in the name of profits.
Kindest regards

Ah, splendid. It seems the Truth Will Out Campaign is getting its message across to the public, if not the medical profession. In this case, the patient was fortunately more clued-up about the medication than the Doctor. Scary, that, isn’t it?

Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was (Volume II: A Change of Mind) is available now as an ebook, a pdf or a paperback. The Nicotine Myth is doomed, it is only a matter of time now.

the hypnotherapy option


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.

86% Failure Rate for Champix

“In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind phase II clinical trial, 638 men and women aged 18-65 who smoked an average of 10 cigarettes per day during the previous year, without a period of abstinence of more than 3 months, where put on placebo, bupropion (another drug used as a smoking cessation aid, brand name Zyban®), or different treatment schedules of varenicline for 7 weeks. Subjects were tested for continuous quitting by measuring exhaled carbon monoxide. After one year, the success rates were 14.4%, 6.3% and 4.9% for varenicline, bupropion and placebo, respectively.”

That was from WikiNews, August 15 2006. Link to this article at the end of this post.

This is interesting because it demonstrates what we can expect in long-term results from new medications (boosted by hype and fresh expectations) compared to old ones which no longer are. Elsewhere on this site I have quoted results for willpower alone from various studies giving us figures of anywhere between 4% to 8% when the results are reviewed at one year. So the placebo (dummy medication) figure given above, 4.9%, is entirely consistent with that. But look how Zyban (bupropion) had also fallen within the normal placebo or willpower range by 2006, whereas earlier reports had suggested it had long-term outcomes of around 13% to 14% – same as the new varenicline (champix, chantix) scores here. So will Champix too fall back within the expected range for willpower or dummy pills once all the hype has passed?

It seems likely. We have certainly seen that with Nicotine Replacement products which were credited with 10% to 20% success rates when the University of Iowa study was carried out in 1992, but we now know from several different independent studies that the current outcomes at one year are a miserable 5% to 6%, once again well within the willpower range.

So this indicates that even in 2006, the long-term outcomes of this so-called “new wonder drug” were no better than the previous “wonder drug” Zyban, which is no longer even managing a miserable 14% success rate now that it isn’t regarded by anyone as a wonder drug any more. Clearly, the difference is entirely accounted for by suggestion and heightened expectation.

That’s not science. That’s marketing. And a complete waste of precious NHS resources.

WikiNews August 15 2006

Hypnotherapy works best, according to the study by the University of Iowa. Find out more in the Evidence section of this site, and here.

Meanwhile, the reports of bad reactions are piling up just as I predicted last year (link).