by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes
The Addiction Myth
Yes, it is the case that many smokers find it very difficult to give up smoking. Cravings can drive you up the wall. Trying to ignore them can make you very irritable or reduce you to tears. Smokers can sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to obtain tobacco.
These facts have often been pointed to as a way of refuting my statements that nicotine is not addictive, tobacco smoking is not drug-taking and cravings are not withdrawal symptoms. The people mentioning these facts do not know (or simply do not believe) that all those experiences can be shut down in a single hypnotherapy session provided it is conducted properly and the client is content to be rid of the habit. Before the session, the client may have mixed feelings about that but those matters can be resolved during the session itself as long as the therapist knows what they’re doing.
Let’s leave hypnotherapy aside for the time being and examine the addiction idea. It is equally true that some smokers find it quite easy to stop smoking, and wonder what all the fuss is about. Some are scarcely bothered by cravings for long periods during the day if they are out shopping, gardening or playing sports. Sometimes smokers run out of cigarettes but can’t be bothered to go to the shop until the following day if it’s raining or just cold outside. Yet people often say to me: “But isn’t nicotine the most addictive drug in the world?” Let’s just consider a few curious aspects of that notion.
Point One: Nicotine is the only notable ingredient in Nicotine Replacement Treatment (NRT) Products like patches and gum. These products are available for sale in any supermarket, right there in the household health products section, aisle 17, alongside the heroin and the crack cocaine. No sorry, right next to the vitamins and the baby powder. The “most addictive drug in the world”? What is it doing there? It’s not even kept behind the pharmacy desk in the supermarket like baby medicines such as Calpol!
Cigarettes, too, are available for sale in the same supermarket but those have always been for sale in shops, that is not a recent change in the law. Even so, you cannot just pick them up off the shelf, you have to go to the tobacco counter and ask for them. Soon they will be hidden under the counter but Nicotine itself – the most addictive drug in the world! – will remain right there on the shelves next to the Olbas Oil and the Kids’ Vitamins. Doesn’t that strike you as dangerous neglect? Shouldn’t the most addictive drug in the world be in a restricted zone, or something? Aren’t unaddicted, non-smoking people being needlessly exposed to the most addictive drug in the world there? Doesn’t that sort of retail practice suggest that nicotine is no more threatening than the vitamins? True, they also sell bleach and other potentially dangerous substances, but not for consumption! And no-one has ever suggested that those were drugs, or ‘therapeutic’ in any way. The very ordinariness of this mode of presentation does not fit the suggestion that nicotine is the most addictive drug in the world!
Point two: When these products were first licensed, you could only obtain them if you went to your GP, who would check your general health status because it is well known that nicotine is dangerous, especially to anyone with a heart condition and/or high blood pressure. Somehow that cautious position has been abandoned, as if medical people ceased to care about such things, and nowadays you can just buy it anywhere no matter how much of a risk you might be running. I have even heard of smokers who are in hospital after a heart attack being given nicotine patches despite the rather obvious fact that they weren’t going to smoke anyway for a while, being laid up in a hospital and very likely scared to death of pushing their luck at that point even if they did have an opportunity to smoke. Which they don’t, so why anyone with even a modicum of medical training would deliberately feed nicotine into their system at a time like that is beyond rational explanation. And if a second heart attack resulted from that, I’d say that’s manslaughter. They certainly wouldn’t give the poor soul anything else that would increase their heart-rate and blood pressure at a moment like that, so why nicotine?
Because of the stupid ‘addiction’ tale. That is the only reason, and it’s a mistake.
Point Three: When people break into chemist’s shops or pharmacies – to steal real drugs of course – do they ever bother to steal the NRT? Did you ever encounter a dodgy character in a pub selling knock-off nicotine patches? No? Well why not? The place is full of “nicotine addicts”, isn’t it? The truth is, no-one does that because no-one wants the stuff, you would have trouble even giving it away. There is no black market in nicked nicotine whatsoever. I’ve even seen NRT products for sale in Pound Shops! “The most addictive drug in the world”? Think again.
Knock-off ciggies though? Now you’re talking! So it is not nicotine the smoker craves, but their usual habitual object – the cigarette. Or if they are a pipe smoker, they wouldn’t want a cigarette at all. If they are an habitual cigar smoker, they wouldn’t want to smoke a pipe and are highly unlikely to do so even if they have no cigars. Do we see heroin addicts being so sniffy about delivery methods when withdrawal kicks in? No. Which takes us straight on to:
Point Four: Real habitual drug users usually do not give a damn what form the drug comers in. If they have the luxury of a choice they will have preferences, but are most unlikely to do without if anything is available that can be abused. They are notorious for abusing anything from cough medicine to poppers if nothing else is around, but no-one abuses NRT products because there is no buzz, no pleasure to be had. If you ask a real habitual drug user when they first started using drugs, will they answer that question by telling you when they first started smoking tobacco? No, they’d never think of that. They’ll tell you when they first started using drugs. Totally different thing.
Point Five: Why do we never see youngsters or teenagers abusing NRT products? If it’s nicotine they’re after, surely it would be easier to sneak around school wearing a patch than risk getting caught with smelly, smoky cigarettes – what a giveaway! Will we ever hear teachers saying: “Turn out your pockets, sonny – and take off your shirt while I check you for patches!” No, of course not. No kid would be seen dead with nicotine patches, what sort of rebellious devil-may-care statement is that? They wouldn’t bother with them in private either, because nicotine is not what teenage smoking is about. And when we were 13, we all knew that, too!
Point Six: Cigarette smokers who have run out of cigarettes will often politely refuse the offer of a cigarette from a friend because they dislike that particular brand. I did that many times myself when I was a smoker. Much earlier in my smoking career though, I would sometimes find myself searching everywhere for cigarette-ends that might yield enough shreds of tobacco to roll up into a rather pathetic apology for a cigarette, but I certainly never did that after my teenage years. I also learned through experience that some brands were particularly nauseating to me, so as time went on I would politely decline those even if I had no cigarettes of my own. What kind of ‘drug addiction’ develops from quite desperate-looking, indiscriminate indulgence to choosiness as time goes on? Real drug addictions typically develop the opposite way around.
Point Seven: It is quite common to see smokers who have smoked for twenty years who nevertheless only smoke five or six a day, and just as unremarkable for a relatively new smoker to smoke twenty a day or more. I knew one woman who only ever smoked one a day, just before bed, but did that for decades. Some smokers only smoke if they go out, or if they are drinking alcohol. Some people only ever smoke on a special occasion, such as at a wedding reception. “The most addictive drug in the world”? How are they getting away with it?
Point Eight: Nowadays, few people can smoke at work so quite a lot of smokers don’t smoke all day, then go home and smoke nine or ten cigarettes whilst watching TV. It’s not like they need NRT to get them through the working day – the only time smokers buy that is if they are trying to quit altogether! So, are these people unaddicted all day long at work, and then suddenly addicted again in the evening? Are they ill at work because of this? No! They might find that it irritates them when the change is first introduced and they are obliged to adjust their habitual routine, but very quickly they find that it doesn’t bother them much at all. Just like the way smokers adjusted quite easily when it was banned on buses, on trains, in theatres and cinemas. Now that smoking in bars and pubs is no longer an option, many smokers have noticed that the number of times they light up has reduced without them making any effort to reduce it. Has their “need for nicotine” somehow waned? Why aren’t the ‘nicotine receptors’ in their brains “going crazy!” like in the TV NRT advert, forcing them outside just as often as they smoked inside the bar?
Because smoking is a compulsive habit, not a drug addiction. All these are examples from Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was. There are many more in the book, 400 pages of evidence that clearly demonstrates that the nicotine tale is a lie, and explains what smokers’ cravings really are and how we shut them down in the hypnotherapy session. I’m not going to re-write the entire book here obviously, anyone who is interested in learning more about that can read it for themselves. By the way, on the book link above there is a download option to the right of the page that comes up. You can read the whole thing for just five pounds sterling (less than eight US dollars).
People who attack my book (nearly always without reading it) by citing “scientific studies” are just repeatedly playing the “Everyone knows it’s a drug addiction, and here’s the scientific proof!” card, in the hope that smokers won’t bother to actually read the book for themselves, or closely examine the methodology of the actual ‘scientific’ trials but just assume that nicotine addiction is scientific ‘fact’. These are the sort of studies that assured us all that Prozac was more effective than placebo, that Champix and Zyban were effective and safe smoking remedies – nay, Wonder Drugs! Some of the studies that are supposed to prove that nicotine is an addictive substance – collectively known as the animal IVSA tests – are closely analysed in my book and prove to be full of obvious contradictions so they don’t prove any such thing in reality, yet they are still cited by medical bodies like the Royal College of Physicians AS IF they do, because those people are hoping you will just believe them without looking at it any more closely! They are donning the white lab coat and talking down to everybody, taking smokers for fools and it is all because nicotine has become a huge global money-spinner, with smokers and taxpayers picking up the tab.
The ‘addiction’ suggestion/interpretation of tobacco smoking plays a very big part in keeping the whole sorry mess dragging on for decades, and it is time for that fundamental medical error to be revealed as such, so that smokers can stop wasting their time with products that don’t work any better than willpower, and get some proper help for a change.