By Katherine Elmore
July 28, 2008

katherine-elmore(KATHERINE ELMORE)Its been a good week overall, and Im mastering the basics of quitting. I think we all know what they are by now: commitment, support, the avoidance of triggers, coping techniques, and some type of medication, like gum or the patch. Ive stumbled a couple of times, but I got right back on track the next day, so my confidence is building. But Im still not there yet, and its more than a little frustrating.

After complaining to my best friend, she told me she was really enjoying some self-hypnosis recordings shed downloaded online. After I stopped laughing and making the "L" sign on my forehead, I asked her if it worked. My friend said that, if nothing else, spending a few minutes listening to them gave her a chance to relax and reflect. Relaxation and reflection are two things I have too little of in my life, so I figured, What do I have to lose? Also, a drowning person will grasp on to any old thing that floats by.

I went to the website my friend recommended and perused the options. The site alleges that hypnosis can solve everything from fear of stairs to chronic nose-picking (among other problems you probably didnt know people had—at least not people old enough to have a credit card). So I downloaded a $9.95 "Quit Smoking" program to my iPod, put in my headphones, and found a quiet couch.

I tried to relax while a man who sounded vaguely like James Bond (all of them) counted down from ten. I was determined not to let my skepticism get in the way of being hypnotized, so I listened carefully and tried to mentally follow all of his instructions. The script wasnt too surprising; it included such phrases as "You no longer want to smoke" and "You are proud of your accomplishment." It also included 007s echoing voice saying, "Deeper...deeper...deeper..." Lets just say that was a little distracting.

I know theres no evidence that hypnosis works. All I can say is, for that day, it worked for me. The next day, it did not. My friend describes it as being a guided mediation, and for that, I think it was worth it.

If Ive learned anything during this process, its that for most people theres no single magic bullet. I recently read that humor writer David Sedaris went so far as to move to Tokyo for three months for the sole purpose of quitting smoking. Moving overseas is a little impractical, but Im not willing to rule out anything. The power of a dramatic change certainly cant be underestimated. Living in a nonsmoking home and working in a nonsmoking environment are big reasons why I never fully returned to my pack-a-day habit after starting a family and going back to work.

There are lots of tips and techniques out there, and I just have to find that combination of factors that gets me to the finish line. One thing Ive found enormously helpful is reading the advice and comments posted here on I know I didnt invent the struggle, but being a closet smoker, its pretty easy to feel like youre alone. To anybody else out there who feels alone in all of this—Im behind you 100%.

Read Katherine's previous posts:
I Quit! (I Think) (July 16, 2008)
I'm Quitting Tomorrow (July 9, 2008)

Also read Libby's quitting blog

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