I never thought I would be a smoker. I casually picked up the habit when I turned 18—I would have one here or there at a party or while I was out driving. As a freshman at the University of Delaware, my roommate was a smoker and our third floor dorm was a designated smoking floor—so you can imagine my once-in-a-while-cigarette turned into a full-blown addiction.
My first attempt at quitting was at the age of 25, right when CHANTIX—a nicotine-free prescription pill—came on the market. I quit within two months and stayed cigarette free for almost seven years. I don’t know what triggered my need to pick up the nasty habit again, but it continued despite my boyfriend’s persistent pleas for me to stop. I spoke with my doctor in the fall of 2016 for advice—should I go back on CHANTIX since it worked so well for me in the past? She recommended hypnosis and, although I was skeptical, I thought, why not?
I made an appointment with Carol Stonestreet Paredes, a certified hypnotherapist. She offers hypnotic sessions to assist people with weight loss and anxiety, but she says smoking cessation is the most popular. “A person has to want to quit smoking and want to be hypnotized. I can’t make someone do something against their will,” she says.
Paredes and I spent the first half of the visit (which lasted over an hour) in what she calls coaching—“I work on the conscious mind and the subconscious mind to help you change your relationship with cigarettes.”
Then the hypnosis began. I relaxed on a lounge chair. I remember feeling anxious—what if she can’t hypnotize me? Paredes spoke in word patterns as I focused on a light on the wall. She played music and told me to close my eyes. All of a sudden Paredes is telling me it’s time to wake up. I’m confused. Wake up? She’s smiling. She said it is all over and that she, too, was a little worried that she wasn’t going to be able to hypnotize me. I thank her, walk out of the office in a bit of a haze, promising to follow up with her in the next few days.
The next day my boyfriend and I attended a Friendsgiving party, where I was surrounded by lots of friends who still smoke. The thought of a cigarette never crossed my mind and to this day, it still hasn’t.