Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shut-Up Stupid Sunday: Smoking Cession Seminars

We have a hypnotist rolling into town and flooding the radiowaves with ads for quitting smoking and weight loss.

These adds promise that through hypnosis you can suddenly stop smoking or lose 30 to 50 lbs, all for $59.95. Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is.

I struggled to quit smoking a couple years ago, and detailed that here. In that time I learned a little bit about the science of nicotine addiction.

Nicotine is an addictive drug that changes the state of the brain, when you take away the nicotine the brain rebels. Random areas of the brain start going hyperactive as it tries to establish a new equilibrium. When this happens the victim has no control over their emotions, strange old memories flair up randomly making the victim think they are hearing voices or hallucinating, and they can have seizures.

Nicotine stays in the blood stream for 3 days, so the brain has to react to lower and lower levels of nicotine during that time. So for the first 3 days of quitting the victim is literally psychotic. After that the nicotine stays in the fatty tissue of the body for 28 days and is released sporadically causing the victim to undergo milder withdrawal symptoms during that time.

Finally the brain needs to completely reset itself to not having nicotine, this can take anywhere from 6 months to a year. During that time the victim feels “not quite right”.

Because nicotine has such a powerful effect on the brain people who try to quit on their own experience an 82% failure rate. With therapy, either behavioral of drug, that failure rate goes down to 80%. The only true treatment that has been shown to work is locking someone up for 28 days to get them over the worst of the withdrawal symptoms and then put them in a foreign environment (like an other country) for a year so the feeling of being not quite right is normal. If you want to quit and have $60,000 or more to blow this is the way to do it.

With hypnosis therapy the failure rate is about 80%, the same as any other treatment but the key is it is an ongoing process. Getting hypnotized one time a week gives the person something to focus on during the cravings (If it does anything more than that is debatable).

Taking the unverifiable claims of hypnotists that use once a week sessions to get people to quit smoking, it is a behavior modification program that needs to be done over time to be effective. Or if you take the psychological view it is all just the placebo effect.

Whichever hypnosis is in regard to quitting smoking, these one-day seminars for $59.95 don’t even measure up to the loose standards of the pseudo-science and are a complete rip off. So to the people running these things that are designed to just to make a quick buck at the expense of people who are suffering I say, “Shut-up Stupid and find a productive way to make a living.”

Is there a group of stupid people that irritate you? If so I am looking for a guest blogger to do their own “Shut-up Stupid” post. Drop me an email at:

1 comment:

JL said...

Ok, I too suffer from understanding the process way too well to actually put myself through it over and over and not get it right. Very keen and insightful; I needed to hear it.

Oh well, Tuesday is a new day and I will try once again to quit:) By noon I fully expect I will be blaming the recession for my "stress" and inability to control myself...

As always, wonderful post!