I’ve helped a lot of people to stop smoking over the last few years – people who smoked more than forty a day, people who’d smoked since they were 12, and people who had tried and failed nearly twenty times. Adam* though was someone who I’d never seen before – someone who wanted to stop smoking e-cigarettes.
He’d started in January last year to help him stop smoking. He’d got down to eight cigarettes a day but couldn’t completely stop and so started using e-cigarettes. That had worked, but without realising it at first his vaping slowly but steadily increased. When he came to see me he said he felt back where he was before he cut down on his smoking.
“Part of the problem is that there’s no natural end to e-cigarettes” Adam told me “and so when I do start I’m smoking them for much longer. And because I can smoke them in the house and the van I’m smoking more often as well. I started on them because I didn’t want to feel I was relying on nicotine – and now I’m using more than ever, and I’ve got a constant sore throat and a dry mouth.”
Helping Adam to stop using e-cigarettes wasn’t very different to helping someone to stop smoking. We got him to think about his triggers – driving, after a meal, with a coffee – and how he could change his reactions to them, or his routine. We got him to think about what benefits he got from vaping – time away to think, a way of marking off the day, keeping in touch with his friends who smoke – and how he could still get those without using e-cigarettes. Finally we got him to think about what successfully not vaping would mean to him – no longer having a sore throat and dry mouth, his sense of achievement, and how proud and happy his girlfriend would be.
Having helped Adam to get control over his triggers, realise that he wouldn’t miss out on what he got from vaping, and then think what success would be like he was ready for his session of hypnosis. The key to it working is that people can’t be worried about missing something, or not be clear about what success means to them. Once he had those things it was easy to help him harness his willpower once and for all to stop using e-cigarettes.
*Adam’s real identity has been protected, and he is happy to share his story.