If you’re like most smokers, you cling to cigarettes to relieve stress and tension brought by everyday life challenges. You think you can smoke away the negative emotions you experience. That’s probably why you are reluctant to quit – you are afraid that you may not be able to handle life stresses without cigarettes. Add other self-defeating thoughts like “It’s too late to quit”, “The damage has been done, there’s no point to stop”, and so on. If these things are hindering you from quitting smoking today, you may benefit from undergoing cognitive behavior therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps patients understand the thoughts and emotions that influence their behavior. It is generally short term and is directed to a specific issue. CBT is based on the idea that thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behavior. For instance, you smoke because of one or multiple reasons, not just because you want to. Unfortunately, some of these reasons don’t have scientific basis and are just products of myths. A professional therapist can help you reverse these negative thoughts and guide you to a more positive behavior.
How can CBT help you quit smoking?
You learn healthier ways to deal with stress. A trained therapist can guide you in recognizing and eliminating the thoughts that make you believe that cigarettes are stress-relievers. The truth is that when you smoke, the nicotine in tobacco stimulates your brain to release ‘feel-good’ hormones that uplift your mood, only for a short period of time. Over time, smoking causes radical changes in your brain chemistry, making you more prone to stress and illnesses. Through CBT, you can learn healthier strategies to deal with everyday stress. Not only that, these approaches can also improve your quality of life.
You explore facts about cigarette smoking. Not all smokers are aware of the health consequences of
tobacco use. You probably know that smoking can cause lung cancer. But the horror story does not end there. Cigarette smoking is among the leading risk factors for heart disease, dementia, other types of cancer, and many other diseases. Your therapist can bust the myths that are hindering you from quitting smoking today.
You increase your confidence and ability to quit for good. Self-defeating thoughts are very destructive. Statements like “I can’t do this”, “I’m afraid I will fail in my attempt to quit”, or “I’ll never be able to quit smoking” can really stop you from achieving better health and a happier life. The therapist will work with you to develop responses to these thoughts until you are able to overcome them and realize that they don’t have the right to control your life or hinder you from obtaining your health goals.
It increases the success rate of smoking cessation treatments. Whether you are using medications like Chantix or Zyban, or nicotine replacement therapies, you can greatly benefit from undergoing CBT at the same time. In fact, some studies have shown that cognitive therapy can help smokers quit even without the help of medications or NRTs.
It helps reduce cigarette cravings. Overcoming cravings is important to the success of your quit smoking journey. In 2010, a study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that CBT is effective in helping quitters resist cravings for cigarettes.