Yes, acupuncture can be helpful for smoking cessation but there’s also deep internal work that must be done.  We can use the Chinese medicine NADA ear protocol, and other acupuncture base strategies, for addiction but without getting to the root of the craving, it’s much more challenging to let go of this pernicious habit.  Explorations that help us to dive deep and explore previously hidden underlying motivations can be an incredible aid on this journey.  It’s also important to have strategies in place for when cravings arise.  With focus and diligence it’s possible to release the repetitive and sometimes unconscious use of cigarettes.

Asking the Questions:

Answering some questions in a journal format can be very helpful.  The writing can be a bit free form as you explore the questions but later you can take some time and clarify the main points.  The first question is “What are your biggest wins from smoking?”  Taking time to get clear on how it benefits you.  Is it a strategy to alleviate anxiety, dissolve stress or cool anger?  What about using other methods to accomplish the same ends?  There are wonderful Chinese herbal formulas for all of these issues and also many supplements available over the counter that can help balance neurotransmitters and calm the cortisol (fight or flight) response.  The herb lobelia is a member of the tobacco plant family and attaches to the nicotinic receptors which can be helpful for nicotine cravings.  Rather than going right to a cigarette to help manage these emotions, maybe some of these options would be a way to get out in front of tough emotions.

Another question to clarify is “What are your biggest losses from smoking?”  How does it harm you?  Explore all the possibilities.  Maybe it helps you stuff down your emotions and not process them.  Maybe your loved ones complain about the smell and your significant other doesn’t want to kiss you.  Maybe you’re concerned about the cost and the financial bottom line of purchasing cigarettes over the years or for many it’s the knowledge that this habit is really terrible for our lungs and our overall health.  Explore what the biggest downsides are for you.

Making a Plan:

What will you do to substitute for every benefit that you currently get from smoking?  What activities will compensate sufficiently?  Make a list that fulfills every item on the benefits list.  What are some other things you can do when you’re stressed?  Maybe walk 15 minutes, do 10 push-ups or simply sit with slow, deep breathing for two minutes.  You could even have a rule during the first week of quitting or when you’re just trying to dial back your usage that you can have a cigarette but only after you’ve run around the house 3 times, done 20 sit-ups, 30 jumping jacks and 5 minutes of silent meditation.  The idea being that by the time you’ve done all this, hopefully the craving has passed.  In Chinese medicine we never underestimate the benefits of moving the “qi”.  Suddenly we have more energy and a brighter out look just from moving our bodies or breathing more deeply.  Another helpful strategy is to journal when a craving comes up that you don’t want to honor.  Maybe, for example, if anxiety is triggering the craving you can explore what’s under the anxiety, where it comes from historically or possibly just exploring the triggering event that’s happening here and now.

Underlining the Benefits:

What will be the positive results of your quitting?  Make a list that addresses every item on the losses list but reframed into a positive.  Imagine how it will feel to have succeeded and accomplished this goal.  Really feel the glow of satisfaction and accomplishment.  It’s important to start by at least succeeding in our own head and psyche.  If we can’t see it there it’s much harder to manifest it in real life.

In Conclusion:

Acupuncture is helpful to stop smoking but there’s more that you can do.  Psychological work can help us understand ourselves better and understand the why behind our actions.  Delving into these questions can help us to get really clear on the underlying benefits and the deeper, sometimes seemingly mysterious reasons why we do what we do.

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