It’s likely that hypnosis can help some people quit smoking, especially when combined with other smoking cessation programs. That said, more research is necessary to confirm this.

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Quitting smoking can improve your health. A 2019 research review showed that smoking is the top cause of preventable illness and death in the world.

For many people, quitting is a huge challenge. One quitting method that gets a fair amount of attention is hypnosis.

Read on to learn more about hypnosis for quitting smoking, resources for qualified practitioners, and other tips for quitting.

Hypnosis has long been used as a form of entertainment. In that context, it looks like a form of mind control. The hypnotist holds power over the subject and pushes them to do silly things. But that’s all for show.

Hypnotherapy is real, but there’s no mind control involved. It’s more of a meditative state.

A trained hypnotist uses verbal cues to lead you into a highly focused, meditative state in which you might be more open to advice. The therapist makes suggestions based on your goals.

Unlike the folks in those stage performances, you won’t be under a spell. And you can’t be persuaded to do anything you don’t want to do.

A 2017 research review summarizing advances in hypnosis research notes there is some evidence suggesting that hypnosis may be effective in helping people quit smoking. In particular, hypnosis, when combined with other treatments, may enhance their effectiveness.

A 2021 study also found that 86% of subjects no longer smoked 6 months after undergoing hypnosis. However, after the first 6 months, only 32% did not begin to smoke again. This suggests that while hypnosis may be effective in helping people quit, it may be more effective in the short term than in the long term.

There is also some evidence that hypnosis can help people who have already quit smoking. In a 2017 study of people who stopped smoking for at least 3 days, researchers found that more people continued to avoid smoking after 26 weeks among those who underwent hypnosis as a preventative treatment than among those who had behavioral therapy.

A 2019 research review also suggested that self-hypnosis to quit smoking is associated with a 6-month abstinence rate of 20-35%.

However, a 2019 research review also suggested that when it comes to hypnosis and smoking cessation, hypnotists may exaggerate their rates of success. There’s also not enough evidence to say if hypnotherapy is more effective than other types of counseling or quitting on your own.

Do ‘quit-smoking’ hypnosis apps work?

There’s not a lot of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of hypnosis apps to quit smoking. Hypnosis itself is hard to study, so much of what we hear is anecdotal.

On the other hand, there’s a growing number of quit-smoking apps that use self-hypnosis as a tool. You can give these apps a try on your own or as a complement to hypnotherapy.

In a 2020 clinical trial comparing two approaches to quit-smoking apps, researchers found the odds of quitting smoking were 1.49 times higher in the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) app group.

This is a mindful approach in which you acknowledge triggers and change how you respond to them. It was compared to an approach based on the United States Clinical Practice Guidelines (USCPG) involving avoiding things that trigger your desire to smoke.

There’s very little evidence that hypnotherapy has serious adverse effects.

Minimal literature suggests there is a chance it could cause some side effects like headaches and anxiety and in rare cases psychological problems like psychosis.

However, in most of the known cases, it was difficult to understand whether the cause was hypnosis or other medical or environmental factors. It may also depend on the practitioner and their training.

That said, you may be disappointed if you pin all your hopes on hypnosis to help you with smoking cessation.

If you want to quit smoking and are interested in hypnotherapy, you may want to consider making it part of a bigger strategy. Speak with a doctor for help with quitting smoking.

On your first hypnosis visit, you’ll talk with your practitioner about your smoking habits and your desire to change. Also up for discussion should be what you’ve tried so far and what methods you’ll continue to work on along with hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy methods may vary a bit from one practitioner to another, so ask potential therapists how they’ll go about it.

Generally, sessions can last from 60-90 minutes. How many it will take depends on how well you respond to hypnosis and how much reinforcement you feel you need.

Your hypnotherapist will use verbal cues and mental imagery to guide you to a relaxed, meditative state. Once you’re in this altered state of awareness, you’ll get suggestions like smoking is poisonous, or you should control smoking and not let smoking control you, for example.

The goal is to have these thoughts surface when you get the urge to smoke. Remember, you’ll be fully aware of what’s happening. You will not lose control over your behavior during the session or later on.

To reinforce what you’ve taken in, the therapist may also teach you the basics of self-hypnosis, as well as provide you with audio-visual material or suggest apps to use at home

If you’re interested in hypnotherapy to quit smoking, start by asking your doctor or your insurance company for a referral.

You can also contact professional associations of mental health professionals and hypnotherapists, or search these databases:

How much does smoking cessation hypnotherapy cost?

According to the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, hypnotherapy sessions average $75-125 per session. Some may be higher than that, and not all health insurance policies cover hypnotherapy.

What is the success rate of hypnosis to quit smoking?

In a 2018 study, researchers found that 16 out of 20 subjects quit smoking after undergoing hypnosis, which equals 80%. Other research has found a similar rate, though there isn’t enough evidence yet to really confirm this or to prove the effectiveness of hypnosis over other interventions, or in the long-term.

How many hypnosis sessions are needed to quit smoking?

Different people may need a different number of sessions, and no particular number has been proven by research to be more effective.

Hypnosis is a therapeutic tool used for a variety of problems, including quitting smoking.

If you plan on trying hypnosis to quit smoking, be sure to look for qualified practitioners with experience in smoking cessation.

Although there’s not a lot of evidence as to its effectiveness, there is little risk in using it to back up your total smoking cessation plan. That said, hypnosis might not work for everyone and it may take several attempts to find out what works for you.

For help with smoking cessation call:

  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. A confidential Quitline (1-800-784-8669) to connect with a trained quit-smoking coach.
  • Call 877-44U-QUIT. Speak with smoking cessation counselors through the National Cancer Institute’s Quitline.
  • Text QUIT to 47848. Sign up for SmokefreeTXT to receive targeted daily tips and tools.
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