Monday, March 16, 2015

Understanding how a quitter will go through the Stages of Change before finally quitting

On an online quitting smoking support group I had suggested Allan Carr's book, "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking" to someone who needed motivation to quit. Someone else responded back with: 
VJ -- I read your book and Allen Carrs book... I liked both but nothing helped me quit .. but myself ... and I never thought I could do it .. but I did it ..   L.
I have had smokers tell me this before and what they are really saying is at the time when they either attended my group, were counseled by me, read my book, ....they weren't ready to quit YET. My response back to L.:
My belief is that ANY time spend thinking about change leads to making that change. The Stages of Change Model has been around for a very long time which explains how a person goes from not want to make a change (precontemplation) to making the change. At each "stage" there are psychological processes that help a person move along the continuum. Here is a chart that I use when I do trainings for health care professionals:
A person in precontemplation has no desire to change. It is no use giving them a solution because they don't think they have a problem. Consciousness raising is giving them a problem--which is what Allan Carr's book is all about--changing the way you think about smoking.
Contemplation is where you want to quit but you still want to smoke. There is ambiguity--"I want to quit BUT not right now". Self-reevaluation is looking at yourself in relationship to whatever change you want to make.
L.-- commitment is what you are talking about when you say that only you helped you quit--you made the commitment to yourself. And every time you read something, every time you thought about changing, you were raising your consciousness, doing a self-reevaluation, and increasing an emotional arousal.
One of the reasons why it is so hard to quit is that everyone is at a difference stage, so giving advice to someone who is in contemplation needs to be different than someone taking action. An action step would be to tell someone to go for a walk instead of smoking (countering) but if you told that to someone who is in precontemplation--it would fall on deaf ears because they don't even want to quit, but that information gets stored away in their brain, and is put to use if and when they ever make it to the action stage.
Motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral therapy and relapse prevent are the type of therapy skills used at each stage.
My book has a little bit of all stages within it.

Her reply: VJ, Yes you are right . I did not think of it that way ..

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