There are programs based on group meetings and peer support. Others are predicated on providing education while still others rely heavily on pharmacology – most usually in the forms of either a Nicotine Patch or an SSRI (anti-depressants have been found to be successful in helping people curb the urge to light up.) Some rely on the use of hypnosis or biofeedback. The question is evident and in every smoker’s face every day : What is the best program for me? What program is most apt to help me stop smoking and to remain smoke free?
The answer comes as a surprise to many. At the risk of oversimplifying, the answer goes something like this: Until you wake up one morning and decide that this your last day as a smoker was yesterday, no program is apt to help – certainly not apt to be able to assure the likelihood of sustained non-smoking. On the pother hand, on the day you wake up knowing that yesterday was your last day as a smoker, literally any organized smoking program will provide you with the help you need to get through nicotine detoxification and past it into the clearer atmosphere of non-smoking. Yes, my friends, it is about motivation more than it is about the credentials or ‘track record’ of any particular program.
Now this is an unwelcome answer to smokers who want and expect a program to ‘fix’ their addiction. Without inherent motivation and genuine affirmation and resolve, there is no successful program – short of moving you into an environment where there is nothing to smoke available. But even assuming you could pay for and be admitted to such a program (and they do indeed exist) life afterwards is apt to quickly revert to what it was before you spent your time and money on nicotine rehab. Recidivism in any addictive issue is very high – whether it be alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or tobacco products. The person remains fertile soil for that recidivism so long as there remains any appreciable degree of uncertainty on the issue of commitment and resolve. The higher the resolve – the clearer and non-ambivalent the decision – the higher the likelihood of a successful and sustainable recovery. Most people who smoke awaken on some basis wishing that they did not smoke. It is on one of those days that it’s time to walk into a program before giving into the temptation to light up the first one of the day. For those who never wake up wishing they were tobacco free – no program is apt to pay off. For those that do, the timing is of the essence.
Motivation does not come, ordinarily, after the fact. It is a prerequisite for meaningful change of any kind. So, save your money! Don’t waste your time or cash in a program until you have made a commitment you are ready to honor to yourself to quit. Until then, your ambivalence will win out and your lungs will continue to lose out each and every time. What makes programs successful is not the details or the strategy of the program – it is the resolve of the participants to let it work for them. No sermon here, just reality