by Nirmala Raniga, Founder and Director
There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that smoking is bad. What smokers don’t hear from media stories and commercials about the many fatal diseases to which smoking contributes – high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and cancer to name a few, they hear from friends and family – the risk of second hand smoke, the smell, the contamination to the air, the expensive daily financial outlay and even the face wrinkles that smoking creates!
These are all valid and sensible reasons that should inspire smokers to butt out. But for the most part, they don’t. According to a recent survey commissioned by Health Canada, even the warning messages on cigarette packages and the recent use of unsightly graphics that cover 75 per cent of cigarette and little cigar packaging aren’t working. In March, 2012, Environics Research Group surveyed 1,505 adult smokers about their response to these health warnings. Overwhelmingly smokers reported that they recognize that smoking is a major health problem, but fewer than half considered the health warnings effective at changing their overall smoking habit. Why?
The addiction to cigarettes is far more complex than being hooked on nicotine. If it were only the drug, there are remedies on the market that relieve the cravings and help get smokers over the hump. The BC Government has even funded nicotine replacement therapies such as the nicotine patch and others through the Provincial PharmaCare Program to help smokers quit. The problem is, these pharmacological remedies don’t help smokers get over the psychological needs that smoking fulfills. Smoking is more than an addiction to nicotine. It is a physical and emotional release from stress and tension. It meets an inherent need that smokers might not have been able to address any other way.
Smokers, on the whole, will say they wish they never started. But smoking may have initially served and important function, whether increasing a sense of empowerment, belonging, or distraction from stress. Whatever the reasons, those long-forgotten needs may linger.
So, when people try to give up the addictive habit of smoking, they are attempting to lose more than the craving for nicotine. They may be giving up a long-established tool that has helped them cope. A friend of sorts. And that can be the hardest part.
Finding how to now address healthy needs that were not able to be satisfied in the past may be key for change. A new sense of self-worth, soothing, and connection can be achieved that can diminish the allure of cigarettes.
Many smokers have found the key to quitting is to pass up the nicotine replacement pharmaceuticals and go directly into their own sub conscious minds – the centre of their beings, to break the cycle of desirability that attracted them to smoking in the first place. One way to do this is through hypnotherapy, a method that induces a hypnotic, or deeply relaxed state of mind that enables the hypnotherapist to create an aversion to smoking through a series of direct suggestions. Smokers also learn self-hypnosis techniques to reinforce the aversion practice.
Dr. Deepak Chopra, the co-founder of the Chopra Centre for Wellbeing takes a more holistic approach to any form of addiction treatment through the teachings of Ayurvedic Medicine. Ayurvedic Medicine, or “the science of life” seeks to integrate and balance the body, mind and spirit. A chief aim of the Ayurvedic practice is to cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease, thus helping to reestablish harmony and balance. Dr. Chopra teaches that given the chance, the body will say to the mind that it doesn’t want this poisonous nicotine any more. He encourages smokers to listen to their mind, not their memory.
Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center, in partnership with the Chopra Centre for Wellbeing, is a private residential centre located in Squamish BC that also practices the Ayurvedic teachings to treat people with a broad range of addictive behaviours, including smoking. Guests participate in the 4 to 6-week program where daily Yoga and meditation sessions, along with massage therapy, acupuncture and personal therapy combine to promote balance and integration of mind, body and spirit. Guests at the center have the opportunity to become free of the initial magnet that drew them to smoking and to discover the joys of a non-addicted life.
At Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center, being smoke-free is acknowledged as an integral part of health and is incorporated into the Center’s 12 weeks of customized post-residential services that may include consultation with family and friends to plan how being smoke-free can be supported. If you have any questions or to learn more, please contact us today.