Researchers use small electric jolts to help smokers quit the habit and stay smoke-free up to one year later
There are two categories of smokers.
Those in the first category are quite happy with the habit. They know and understand the risks. They’ve been warned by health professionals, and by their thinning wallet, faltering breath and all sorts of other telltale signs that this is a dangerous game they’re playing. But they choose to smoke anyways.
Hopefully, you belong to the second category.
You want to quit.
And if that’s the case, you’ve probably tried and failed more times than you care to remember.
Nothing seems to work.
- You tried smoking less — But then life happened and you went back to smoking your usual amount, if not more.
- You tried to quit overnight — But pretty soon you turned into a raging fiend on a rampage, so you decided to preserve your sanity and pick up the habit once again.
- You tried nicotine patches — But you realized they were no substitute for the “activity” of smoking, so you threw them out and bought another pack of smokes.
The list goes on and it keeps getting longer.
It’s a very disheartening picture for you and so many other smokers out there who keep trying and failing.
Why you fail at quitting smoking
It’s simple. You keep failing because smoking is a habit. And by nature, habits are reinforced every time you repeat the behavior.
You might try to exercise willpower. But willpower is a limited resource, and habits tend to outrun willpower over time.
Smoking is like a toxic relationship. Cigarettes become a part of your life. Think about it.
- when you have coffee
- when you socialize
- after you eat (or even while you eat)
- after sex
- while you drive
- when you’re stressed, sad, angry, upset, grieving, crying
- when you’re relaxed, enjoying yourself, happy
- when you mourn the loss of someone
The cigarette cheats you into thinking that it’s part of every one of those activities. Eventually it becomes an extension of “you”.
And that’s precisely why it’s so difficult, so terrifying, to quit smoking.
You need to reprogram your brain.
Thankfully, 80+ years ago, science discovered a method to do just that. And studies show that it has an astonishing success rate with all sorts of habits, including smoking!
Researchers use small electric jolts to successfully help 67% of smokers quit in as little as 5 days
In a research experiment, a number of smokers were treated with harmless electric jolts to help them quit smoking. The participants smoked an average of 21.5 cigarettes per day. They had all previously tried to quit smoking by their own will-power or other conventional means.
Participants were hooked up with electrodes and provided a favorite brand of cigarettes. At some point during the smoking process, they would be given a signal. This signal was followed three out of four times by an electric jolt.
The participants had been instructed to put out the cigarette upon receiving the signal. Failure to do so immediately would result in a second jolt.
Additionally, they were asked to imagine a favorite situation for smoking, such as the first cigarette of the morning. As they reached the imaginary moment of lighting the cigarette, the same signal/jolt procedure was carried out.
From 21.5 cigarettes a day, to 1.4 cigarettes a day in 3 sessions, with most participants quitting the habit within 5 sessions
By the end of the treatment, 67% of the participants had quit smoking completely, and when assessed one year later, 43% were still off cigarettes.
According to the researchers, “there was a noticeable effect after the first session” (Russell, 1970).
The attitude of participants towards cigarettes changed drastically.
In fact, feedback included comments such as “I threw it away after two draws, to my surprise”; “I took only a few puffs-I just didn’t fancy it. My mate laughed when I threw it out the window.” (Russell, 1970)
One participant even complained that the “cigarettes were stale”. (Russell, 1970)
Russell, M. A. (1970, 12). Effect of Electric Aversion on Cigarette Smoking. Bmj, 1(5688), 82-86. doi: 10.1136/bmj.1.5688.82