Saturday, May 2, 2009

What works and what doesn't work?

I'm approached all the time to sell products that claim to help a smoker quit. One company claimed that cravings would vanish by smelling a cinnamon scented wand. In a very unscientific experiment, I gave them out to all of the participants in one of my workshops. One third said that the wands did remove the craving, one third said the wands did nothing and one third said smelling the wand caused an increase in cravings. Another man swore that when he rubbed a Peruvian amulet, his cravings went away.
I firmly believe that regardless of how outlandish a quitting method seems, that every method will work for some, but no method works for everyone. Some products will work because of the placebo effect, which if the user believes strongly that a method will work for them, then with the power of their own mind, they will be successful. So when a client will ask about any alternative method used for quitting, I have to admit that I am biased. I've been facilitating cessation classes for 19 years and I often hear, "This class is my last resort--I've tried everything and nothing works." (which includes acupuncture, & hypnosis). The individuals that attend my classes are the ones that have tried all the other methods and products and found they didn't work.

So what does work? Smokers are like individual snowflakes, each connected to their cigarettes in various ways. So instead of endorsing any particular product or method, I encourage smokers examine how they relate to their cigarettes. When do they smoke? What habits are associated with smoking? What physical effects do they feel when quitting? By looking at how they are connected to their cigarettes, will tell them what aspect they need to work on to be successful and often it is not just one aspect but many.

Rather than spending money for products claiming to be a magic wand to quit but probably won't work, except to line the manufacturer's pocket with the smoker's money, practice changing one aspect of smoking. Break one habit, such as not smoking in the car anymore, only smoking outside. Practice going outside for a smoke break with your friends but don't smoke. Talk to your doctor about different medications, it may take trial and error to find a combination that works for the individual.

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