Can CBT Help you Quit smoking?

CBT has been shown to be one of the most effective methods for changing a behavior and has quickly become one of the most popular methods for treating anxiety, but how effective is CBT for helping people to quit smoking? Most smokers that try and quit really want to give up their smoking habit, but often find themselves failing within the first few days. As smoking is a habit, it is very difficult to quit with just will power alone, to quit smoking you need to break your habit. Changing a behavior by yourself can be a difficult task, but in the hands of a good CBT practitioner patients can change their thought process and thus their habit in just a few sessions.

The decision to stop smoking is usually not one that occurs overnight. Everything has a cycle and a process – quitting smoking is no exception. Take a closer look at the Stages of Change Model to see where you might be.In general, there are five stages in the decision to quit:

stages of change

  1. Pre-contemplation: This is the stage when you are not even thinking about quitting. You are not ready to start any process. You are not likely to be receptive as to the health benefits of quitting.
  2. Contemplation: During this stage, you begin to seriously consider quitting. You begin to think of smoking as a behavior you want to change. You are responsive to feedback and education about smoking.
  3. Preparation: It is during this stage that you may set a ‘quit date’ and start looking into quitting programs. You might start actively thinking about taking small steps towards quitting, such as cutting down on the number of cigarettes smoked. You are actively preparing to quit.
  4. Action: You actually quit. You actively seek social reinforcement for quitting. You find yourself actively doing things in place of smoking. You may need help with the withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Maintenance: You are in the process of learning how to handle triggers and developing long-term coping strategies. This stage also refers to long- term quitters.
  6. Relapse: Even after quitting smoking, the challenge has obstacles including the opportunity to recycle back to the earliest stages or go directly to preparation or action stages.
  7. Termination: You build the skills and confidence you need to stay smoke-free for good.

Something that we are seeing become more and more popular with people trying to quit smoking is the use of ecigarettes. We spoke with John Dobson, the owner of the popular website Vaping Insider and he had this to say:

“The vaping industry has seen massive growth over the last few years as smokers have begun to discover the effectiveness of ecigarettes as smoking cessation devices. Not only have they been shown to be 95% healthier than regular cigarettes, but they also allow smokers to taper down the amount of nicotine they get over a few weeks so that they can gradually curb their nicotine habit while avoiding huge cravings.”

Remember, you are not alone. More than 70 percent of smokers express a desire to quit and the average smoker makes 7 serious attempts before finally succeeding! More than 50 percent of those smokers who express a desire to quit eventually manage to quit so hang in there and set yourself up for a healthier 2016!

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy that deals with the treatment of psychological disorders caused by either depression or extreme anxiety. This approach lets you understand your emotions, behaviors and actions and gives you the chance to change your way of thinking.
Anxiety and depression are often caused by unpleasant events in one’s life. Anxiety is a kind of emotion that contains element of worry and often affects the behavior and reaction of a person. It could be triggered by either problems in school or work. For instance, if you’re someone who’s aiming for a promotion, won’t you get anxious that someone will take that promotion away from you? Anxiety helps you prepare against any untoward incident. It helps you to either make a move or just run away. So if you don’t want that promotion to be taken away, then you would do everything to impress the big boss. Although anxiety might help us prepare ourselves to fight, it can also affect our behavior and somehow, it may affect other people. In the previous example, if you badly want that promotion, then you would probably destroy his image to get that promotion yourself.
So how does CBT work? Anxiety is the feeling or emotion that influences behavior. In the case of the example given, the feeling that someone else will get that promotion influences the person’s decision to destroy his competitor’s image. In CBT, you are taught to think differently given the same situation that you are in. For instance, if you are in the same situation and later on you became friends with that person that you’re competing with, you might change your action towards the situation.


CBT involves two approaches to work. First is for cognitive change and the other one is for behavioral change.

1. CBT Approaches for Cognitive Change
Cognitive change involves the thinking process of a person. To change your way of thinking, you have to first identify what are the things that cause you to feel upset or anxious. After identifying those situations, you need to evaluate the negative thoughts that you have so that you will see how you can correct the error in your way of thinking.

2. CBT Approaches for Behavioral Change
Behavior is the outward result of a strong feeling. The only way to change your behavior is to constantly remind yourself of the possible outcome of your actions. Always think of the pros and cons of giving in to your feelings before taking action. Exposure therapy could also help you do behavioral change. The goal of exposure therapy is to allow you to experience the situations that could trigger your fear or anxiety. But the exposure starts with mild-moderate fear. This will allow you to know how you will react in certain situations.

These two approaches can be used by anyone even without the help of a CBT therapist. You just have to take note of your feelings or emotions and make sure that you don’t express your automatic negative thoughts that may cause harm to other people.

Recent Study: The Effects of CBT on Acne patients

Acne is a common skin condition for most adolescents, but can continue on well into adult life. Patients suffering from acne often experience negative feeling such as sadness, anger, anxiety embarrassment and reduced self confidence. These feelings often come from the false belief that the patient is ugly or worthless by society’s standards and can lead to depression or suicidal thoughts. Depression is one of the main conditions treated by cognitive behavioral therapy and can be an effective therapy for acne patients suffering from these conditions.

For example, the patient may have the false belief that their acne will prevent them from leading a normal life and that they will be unable to find a boyfriend or girlfriend. A good therapist should challenge this belief and help the patient see how unrealistic this is as well as trying to get the patient to recall examples from their life where these beliefs were shown to be false. If someone has become reclusive to the point of quitting their job or university a CBT therapist could help them challenge those negative beliefs internally before encouraging them to return to work with their new beliefs.

Acne Dublin

A recent Irish study conducted by Dermatology Ireland at their private dermatology clinic in Dublin got acne patients who were suffering from symptoms of depression, OCD and anxiety to take part in free CBT sessions. The aim of the study was to see if reduced stress and anxiety surrounding acne could lead to better patient outcome. Although it was only a small study of 50 patients, they found an 18% decrease in acne in patients who took part in the CBT sessions during their treatment. This is one of the first studies that used CBT to try and improve the effectiveness of an acne treatment and we will be interested to see the results of a larger study.

A recent Korean study of 136 dermatology patients examined the knowledge and daily habits of patients surrounding acne and their treatment. Patients that visited Dr. Jung and Dr. Hawang’s private dermatology clinic were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their knowledge of acne and their habitual care. The result of the study showed that patients have very unorthodox beliefs surrounding their acne and that patients fail to take the appropriate care and in some instances even had adopted counterproductive behaviours when treating acne prone skin.  They concluded that introducing cognitive behavioral therapy to the field of acne treatment could have positive benefits for patients.

This is a much overlooked aspect of CBT and more research needs to be conducted on the topic of using CBT to improve patient compliance for a more effective treatment. We consulted with the expert dermatologist from dermatology Ireland where they are trialing combining CBT along with

Did you know?

1) 41% of all adults get a mental disorder in any given year and that 20% of adults have a serious mental health problems?

2) The most common mental disorders are: Tobacco addiction (28%), fears (20%) divided into specific phobia (7%), social phobia (5%), panic disorder (2%), GAS, Compulsive Disorders PTSD and Hypochondria) Alcoholism (10%), depression and dysthymia (about 8%) and Burnout (7%) and that many of these disorders can be improved with CBT.?

3) That men are far more likely to have an alcohol or drug addiction and women are far more likely to acquire an anxiety disorder, depression or an eating disorder?

4) The risk of mental disorders is highest among young adults (18-25 years), with townspeople, singles-particularly single parents-, less educated, housewives- and men, unemployed and disabled?

5) In the Netherlands in 2003, 57.5 billion was spent on health care, the majority of which (12.7 billion euros, a quarter of the total) was spent on mental disorders (including mental disabilities and dementia, successively the most expensive and second most expensive diagnostic groups) ?

6) Depression is 12th in the top 20 of the most expensive diagnostic groups and that the cost of schizophrenia and disorders due to alcohol and drugs also score high on this list?

7) Depression and anxiety disorders are among the five most serious diseases in the world?

8) Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common disorders treated with (CBT)?

9) That in 2005, 230,000 people in the WAO (one third of of almost 700,000 people in the WAO) had a debilitating mental disorder? And that approximately three billion euros was spent on benefits (and we’re not even talking about people with a mental disorder in sickness, unemployment and social assistance and about the “loss” in economic input of this group gross national product)?

10) A British study (LSE) showed that 1% of national income is lost because people with depression or an anxiety disorder do not receive effective treatment or any at all.

11) This report also shows that although one third of all (mental) disability is related to depression and anxiety, only about 2% of the health budget is spent on them.

12) CBT is not one specific treatment but rather a systematic and scientific approach to problem solving?

13) A good therapeutic relationship is very important for successful treatment?

14) CBT can deal with both the past, present and future of the patient?

15) CBT uses scientific knowledge about the breadth of human functioning, how the brain functions and social behavior?

16) CBT is the most appropriate treatment for many symptoms and disorders?

17) CBT deals with both conscious and unconscious cognitive processes?

18) CBT strives to increase the independence of patients by making them actively involve the treatment?

19) The formulation of clear treatment goals contributes to the effectiveness of CBT?

20) CBT for the treatment of most common mental disorders, has been extensively researched and has the most prepared independent multidisciplinary guidelines?

21) Training in attention and concentration can lead to improvements in interpersonal functioning and personal relationships?

22) One in five people have suffered from an anxiety disorder in their life and 12% in the past 12 months?

23) That anxiety disorders are the most treated disorders by CBT?

24) The loss of quality of life by anxiety disorders is similar to that of many common illnesses such as heart disease and stroke?

25) That untreated anxiety disorders often have a chronic course?

26) That the majority of people with anxiety disorders are overlooked by their GP?

27) That the cost of treatment increases by 40% if the Multidisciplinary Guideline for anxiety disorders are applied?

28) The Multidisciplinary Guidelines on Anxiety Disorders show that about 2/3 of patients show significantly fewer symptoms of debilitating anxiety after CBT treatment?

29) That CBT is as effective as medication and that there is less relapse after finishing the treatment?

30) In the short term CBT is as effective as medication for treating depression and has a longer lasting impact?