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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

The psychology behind smoking addiction

Sep 12, 2016 12:12PM ● By Gary Robertson

When I talk to smokers, many say they have quit several times. My response is that they really never quit. They just stop for a while.

When smokers stop, the addiction pattern continues operating. Smok- ers often substitute eating and gain weight if they quit. Vaping, patches and gum are nothing more than al- ternative delivery systems that don’t resolve the addiction long term.

When I talk to smokers about a cure, I mean eradicating the entire addictive pattern. After all, tobacco addiction constitutes an aberration of normal behavior. None of us were born addicted to tobacco. We used to be air breathers. That is the state we need to return to—normal, healthy behavior that respects the health and wellbeing of everyone around us and values our own physical health.

I know this is possible because when someone asks me for a light or a cigarette, I offer to cure them of wanting that particular cigarette instead. If they say yes, I show them how in less time than it takes for half a smoke. My point is that if anyone can be cured of a particular smoke, then curing everyone is pos- sible, painless, quick and easy.

So the difference between giving up tobacco for a time, as commendable as that may be, and being cured of tobacco addiction involves permanent resolution. When we just quit, the door remains there. We might have locked it, perhaps even nailed it shut. But the door remains, leaving the possibility of going back through later on. Being cured means no doorway exists. I quit several times. I went to a hypnotherapist and received some suggestions that never stuck. I went to a hospital seminar and learned about the physiological aspects of tobacco smoking, complete with an actual smokers lung, blackened and shrunken. I tried acupuncture, too. I learned that information and partial interventions are insufficient once the addiction was making my decisions for me.

The real key to dismantling the smoker’s dynamic involves discovering the benefits it gives you at considerable cost long term and getting that without tobacco. One of the most common motivations for smoking involves using nicotine energy as a substitute for natural will. We smoke to give us the ability to do things for longer periods with better concentration than we could without tobacco. Consequently, to stop means we cannot continue pushing ourselves beyond what our natural interest and motivation support. Like when teamsters whipped their horses to force them beyond what they will do by offering car- rots, we have a huge fear that we will not be able to function without artificial stimulation. The longer one smokes, the bigger the problem becomes.

When I quit, cigarettes were 50 cents a pack. I have not wanted an- other one for over 35 years, so I can say I’m cured after smoking for 18 years. My stepmother died of lung cancer and when my father suc- cumbed to smoking-related disease I wrote up a program, “The Smo- quitz System” to help others quit before they suffered like he did, or like my brother who now needs to carry around an oxygen tank.

Here’s to making that important switch to being an air breather once again. I hope the insight you gain from this article is that a com- plete cure of tobacco addiction is possible for you, as it was for me.

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