Dr Gary Elkins, creator of quit smoking app Finito, knows first hand the impact smoking can have on health, family and relationships.
“The inspiration for Finito was both personal and professional. My father was a heavy smoker and he knew that smoking was having a bad effect. At age 69 he was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is the big artery that goes to the heart and for smokers that can become hardened and inflexible, and burst. And although he did get to surgery, it wasn’t successful.
“He died from cigarette smoking. It gave me a passion to want to help others stop smoking and to be able to stop this tragedy that smoking can lead to.”
Dr Elkins has spent much of his life examining the applications of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. As a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, and Director of Baylor’s Mind Body Medicine research laboratory, he has spent years conducting hypnosis research and randomized clinical trials investigating hypnosis interventions.
Having already developed Evia, a groundbreaking hypnotherapy program for menopausal hot flashes and night sweats, Dr Elkins again teamed up Mindset Health to create Finito, a four-week hypnotherapy based quit smoking program.
“A lot of my research has focused on how we can develop the most effective hypnotherapy for smoking cessation program and find a way to easily bring it to the public.
“Quitting smoking is hard and there are several reasons for that. First, nicotine is an addictive substance. And so any substance that is addictive, if you stop, withdrawal symptoms occur. Those withdrawal symptoms include things such as cravings, and can disrupt the person's sleep, their mood and so on. And so that withdrawal period is difficult for most people to go through.
And then there is also a psychological dependency. A person who has smoked for a long time, they can get the idea that they need cigarettes. It's hard for them to imagine going through life without smoking.
There can be a lot of triggers for smoking⸺stress or it's part of the person's everyday lifestyle or their work, their social activities. All of these things come together to make quitting smoking difficult.”
How hypnosis for quit smoking works
“Hypnosis for quit smoking takes a multi-component approach.
“In the early phase the individual quitting is going to experience some withdrawal symptoms. The Finito program is really designed that if you're experiencing cravings, a self-hypnosis session will lead you into comfort and calmness until that craving passes.
“Another part of the process is for people to see themselves as a non-smoker. As the person progresses through the program, hypnotherapy helps them change their lifestyle and imagine a positive future without cigarettes. It helps them prepare to navigate different situations without smoking.
“The third part is about addressing stress. Quitting is a stressful process, but also people use smoking because they think it helps them cope with stress.
Calm your IBS in 6 weeks
Take our free assessment to discover if Nerva can work for you.
✅ 89% success rate Start assessment
✅ 80,000+ people helped
✅ Created by gut health experts
❌ No appointments or waitlists
❌ No pills or diet change
Hot Flash Relief
Manage your hot flashes in just 5 weeks.
✅ Science-backed & effectiveLearn more
✅ Natural & safe option
✅ Created by Dr Elkins
❌ No appointments or waitlists
❌ No medications
Refer, monitor and grow
A free and easy way to refer patients to digital hypnotherapy programs.Let's Connect
“There is very strong evidence of utilizing hypnotherapy for stress management. So through hypnotherapy the person reduces stress and learns other ways to cope with their feelings, other than smoking.
“These components are all essential. This is why multi-session hypnotherapy for quit smoking is so much more effective than quitting without support.
What is hypnosis?
“Hypnosis is defined as a state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness.
“It's characterized by an increased capacity for response to suggestions for alterations in sensations, thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
“Let’s break it down. First it's a state of focused attention. It's a very natural state and something we all experience. Examples would be getting absorbed in reading a book, or going to a movie theater. We focus our attention on whatever is happening on the movie screen. And within that state we're absorbed.
“We're open to the suggestions, even if those suggestions, you know, are something that's being played out on the movie screen or so on. And for that reason, usually in hypnotherapy, we utilize not just direct suggestions, we use words, but also mental imagery. So that the person can visualize and experience the things that are being described or the goal.
“Hypnotherapy really means utilizing that hypnotic state for a therapeutic purpose. So whether that's to help the person manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, sleep better, reduce menopausal symptoms or stop smoking.
“The way that I think about it is hypnosis plus therapy equals hypnotherapy. Utilizing hypnosis for that therapeutic, positive purpose, whatever that might be.”
Does hypnosis for quit smoking work?
“Most interventions for quitting smoking have a 25-30%% success rate.
“But if we look at multi-component, multi-session programs like Finito, the success rate goes up dramatically. The research is really in the range of 60 to 90%.”
In one study, it was found that quitting with hypnosis makes you 10 times more likely to abstain from cigarettes for more than a year, than quitting without support. In the same study, 81% of patients reported they had stopped smoking at the end of their multi-session hypnotherapy program.
Is going cold turkey really that hard?
“Could you stop smoking just cold turkey? Well, some people can, it's possible.
“Most people, especially if they are a chronic smoker, want to stop smoking. And so the idea of going cold turkey is appealing. But if they’ve smoked for a long time, or if they're smoking a couple of packs a day, that's a big leap to go from smoking that amount. To zero all at once without support.
““The reality is that only around 7% of smokers quit without assistance.
“I think there are stages that people go through in their readiness to quit, and it’s one of the reasons it takes an average of 30 quit attempts before being successful.
“The first stage, it's where a person is thinking about stopping smoking. It's on their mind, but they're not fully committed to it.
“The second stage where the person recognizes that that smoking is having negative effects on their health or lifestyle. At that stage it’s almost a wish. ‘I wish I could quit smoking.’
The third stage is where the person is getting honest with themselves and they recognize that to continue to smoke is going to have a bad effect on their health, their loved ones, people that they care about.
“That's where the person makes attempts to stop, often cold turkey. And even if those attempts aren't successful there's the final stage and that's where the person thinks, ‘Okay, what is it really gonna take for me to stop smoking? What's my program? What's my plan?
“They’ve realized that they are not able to stop smoking without some assistance. And so that's where the person is ready to then set a stop date and really stay with the program.
“Persistence pays off in that final stage, and we’ve created Finito to help people get there. Even if they lapse, we ask them to keep coming back and keep trying. Because we know that every time they come back they’re closer to reaching that goal.
“It's important to never give up, repeat it if you need to, but with the Finito program, when you're ready to stop smoking, you can expect to become a non-smoker.”
Dr. Elkins is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory, and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. He is the expert behind the hypnotherapy for smoking cessation program, Finito as well as the hypnotherapy for hot flashes program, Evia.