Why it is so hard to quit?
The health consequences and medical costs associated with cigarette smoking are well established and research indicates increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases, various forms of cancer, and chronic obstructive lung diseases in those who smoke. Despite knowledge of these adverse risks and consequences, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable mortality in the United States.
So, if it is so clear tobacco smoking is dangerous, why we do not see massive quitting? That is so, in spite of the huge and expensive efforts to get the smokers scared and make the tobacco smoking expensive and less socially acceptable
The immediate negative consequences of quitting cited by smokers include increased stress, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, negative affect and cravings. A myriad of strategies exist to help prepare smokers to quit and avoid relapse: pharmacological products, motivational enhancement therapies, brief advice therapy, alternative counseling modes (telephone, Internet and computer), self-help, and individually tailored treatments. However, a recent Cochrane review indicated that insufficient evidence exists to support the use of any specific behavioral intervention for helping smokers who have successfully quit for a short time to avoid relapse. Most interventions aimed at preventing relapse typically focus on teaching new skills to cope with temptations. However, these do not appear very effective or helpful in the long-term. The review recommended focusing on supporting initial cessation attempts and reducing associated physical and psychological negative consequences.
EFT - a different approach?
The most difficult consequences of quitting cited by smokers include the craving urge and situational triggers, such as smoking while drinking coffee and lighting up when others light up. Strategies, which specifically neutralize these issues, may be of great benefit. Approaches, which target both the cognitive (negative thoughts) and somatic systems (cravings), are showing promise in this field. Generally termed ‘energy psychology’ approaches, these self-help processes are based on traditional exposure and response-prevention strategies belonging to the cognitive therapies, and non-Western techniques such as tapping on acupressure points. The most widely used energy psychology modality is Emotional Freedom techniques (EFT).
EFT utilizes the physical somatic activity of tapping with two fingers on acupressure points on the face and body, while focusing cognitions on the psychological problem. This type of exposure therapy appears to activate the amygdala, a part of the brain linked to memory storage, threat responses such as flight, flight or freeze behaviors, and emotions such as pleasure, anger and fear. Researchers at Harvard Medical School, in a 10-year research program investigating the effects and mechanisms of stimulating specific acupressure points for trauma related issues, found that rubbing, tapping or holding pressure on these points sent de-activating signals to the amygdala. By repeating the techniques while continuing to focus the mind on the psychological problem, the amygdala reduces its stress response, the hippocampus re-records the problem/memory without the physiological anxiety symptoms, and the neural pathways initially involved amend themselves so future confrontations with the problem or memory no longer cause distress.
EFT was founded by Gary Craig, a Stanford Engineer, Ordained Minister and Personal Performance Coach. EFT is simply emotional acupuncture without the needles. Our bodies are made up of subtle energies. When negative emotions are present, it is simply a disruption of the bodies energy system. With EFT you stimulate certain meridian points by tapping on them, and it tends to balance the energy flow in our body. EFT is simple to learn, gentle and easy to use, can be used anywhere, only take minutes, and has such great results.
Targeting Common Concerns
Despite the known benefits of smoking cessation, people continue to have difficulty quitting their smoking habit. What stands in their way are vital issues that EFT can address.
1. Cigarettes as Tranquilizers
Clients wishing to quit smoking admit that they use cigarettes to avoid, numb or suppress a variety of feelings that are uncomfortable. Some people use cigarettes to relax and calm themselves, some use them for an energy boost, while still others use them to feel safe or protected. When using EFT for smoking cessation, investigating and addressing any underlying emotions that cause the person to reach for cigarettes is essential. EFT can be aimed at any uncomfortable and unwanted feelings (physical or emotional) or thoughts (imagination, memories, or beliefs) including loneliness, emptiness, rejection, anger, fear, and unworthiness. Once these underlying emotions are detected and treated with EFT, a person’s cravings to smoke and numb or distract from these feelings is reduced or eliminated.
2. Withdrawal Symptoms
One of the biggest fears clients share before beginning a quit smoking treatment is their fear of painful or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms; often based on prior failed efforts at quitting that they experienced themselves or observed in others. Frequently it is more helpful to interpret withdrawal symptoms as the body’s way of expressing physical or emotional anxiety about “giving up” the drugs and chemicals in cigarettes. The body literally craves the drugs and nicotine, and war stories from friends who have gone “cold turkey” abound. EFT can be used for each specific symptom as well as for the fear of the future and what withdrawal may feel like.
3. Favorite Times of Day to Smoke
When people quit on their own, they can fail to acknowledge the intensity of physical and mental associations they have with cigarettes. These associations are so powerful that they can lead a person to sabotage and fail as early as the first few days of quitting. Classic associations that must be addressed and treated are (a) smoking while on the telephone, (b) smoking while in the car, (c) smoking after a meal, (d) smoking during stressful times, (e) smoking before going to bed or after sexual intercourse, (f.) smoking in social situations and (g) smoking with a favorite drink such as coffee or beer.
All of these emotional links can be eliminated with EFT while stress in general is being neutralized. Ex-smokers feel quite confident that they can handle formerly difficult scenarios or times of day after learning the EFT procedure.
Here are the EFT basic steps to Stop Smoking:
1. Write down all doubts, triggers, emotions, obstacles, and concerns you have about quitting smoking? (I doubt that I can quit smoking or quitting smoking is too stressful)
2. Evaluate the intensity level of each issue or emotion on a 1 to 10 scale (10 being the most). (Doubt - 8, Stress - 7)
3. Set up the affirmation and reminder phrase starting with the most intense issue first. (Affirmation - Even though I doubt I can quit smoking, I deeply and completely accept myself, or Even though I think quitting smoking will be too stressful, I deeply and completely accept myself).
4. Begin tapping lightly on the following meridian points on one side of your body using your index finger and middle finger with either hand, as you speak the phrases aloud.
* Karate chop (KC) - Side of the hand below the pinky finger at the center of the fleshy part of your hand that you would use to karate chop.
"Even though I doubt I can quit smoking, I deeply and completely accept myself." (Repeat 3 times).
* Eye brow (EB) - Near the bridge of your nose just to the side where the eyebrow begins.
“My doubts about quitting smoking”
* Side of the eye
"I doubt I can quit smoking"
* Below the eye (UE) - If you were looking straight ahead, about an inch directly below your pupil on the bone at the bottom of your eye socket.
"My doubts about quitting smoking"
* Under the nose (UN) - Just under your nose about at the halfway point between your nose and upper lip.
"Doubt I can quit smoking"
* Middle of the chin (CH) - The middle of your chin under your lower lip in the indention.
"All the other things I have tried did not work"
* Under the collarbone (CB) - Just below your collarbone to the side of your sternum in the indention (where the clavicle, sternum and first rib meet).
"I really just doubt I can quit smoking"
* Under the armpit
"My doubts about quitting smoking"
* Top of the head (TH) - At the very top or crown of your head.
"Doubt I can quit smoking"
5. Take a deep breath.
6. Re-evaluate the intensity level of the issue using the 1 to 10 scale.
7. Tap a second round. You may continue tapping as many rounds as you need to reduce the intensity level of the issue below a 3.
8. Move onto the next emotion or issue starting with the Evaluation #2.
9. Once you have removed all of your doubts, fears, concerns, and obstacles, you are ready to quit smoking.
10. For the first few weeks, use EFT at least three times each day to deal with any emotions, or issues that come up.
Well, even with the instructions easy and straightforward to understand, it is hard to believe they can actually work, especially for the hard-core smokers who have long history of the quitting failure. Therefore, the first and the most important recommendation is even simpler than that – find a professional certified therapist and try it first as supervised and guided session. As soon as you will gain trust in the technique and will see practical advantages, you might be switching to the self-application approach, which will save you money and allow applying it whenever you need and wherever you want.
Here is the video presentation, which will help you to understand the approaches and techniques:
Sources and Additional Information: