Clients tell me they’ve tried gum, patches, and even those plastic cigarette substitutes. Lots of them quit long enough for nicotine to be out of their system, but when they come to me they’re smoking again.
I understand why. Smoking isn’t really about nicotine. Nobody starts smoking for nicotine. If THAT were the reason, then everyone would just chew the gum and spare their lungs.
Everyone starts because of something about the Culture of Smoking. Maybe they wanted to show their independence, or maybe they smoked to share something with a lover, or maybe they wanted to fit in with other smokers.
I went out walking this morning and found this empty pack of duty-free cigarettes in the bushes. It's a real pack. On the back, a similar label warns of impotence. Impotence! I'm sure that brings to mind some unpleasant images and feelings. But someone still bought and smoked that entire pack because the images and feelings that wired into his brain when he first started smoking were strong enough to trump these warnings. Smoking isn’t about thinking, it’s about wiring.
So someone gets scared enough, or sick enough, or somebody threatens to fire them, or leave them, and they quit smoking. Long after they quit something stressful happens. Maybe they lose their job, or have a fight with a loved one, and they begin to feel those overwhelming urges to have a cigarette. Urges so strong that they’re afraid they’ll give in. They see how they will give in. So they do.
Does it even make more sense that those urges are about nicotine? Can nicotine return financial losses or make a loved one closer? Or does it make more sense that there's still a long-held and deep-seated meaning about how smoking helped them feel when they first hardwired the habit?
Nobody really has an urge to pick up an expensive paper tube of carcinogens and burn it. That solves nothing. If smoking were about nicotine, people would just slap on a patch, or swallow a pill. But tobacco companies are smart enough to know that it's the Smoking Culture that gets people hooked. That early experience that endures.
My clients quit for good because their mind and brain finally shifts the meaning of it.
You can, too. Even one more pack is too much. Let’s talk about how we can make this the LAST time you quit.