The habit: smoking
THE FIX: HYPNOSIS
Marc St. Camille of Power Hypnosis (25 E Delaware Pl, 312-440-1908) greets me at the door with a frisky Labrador wearing a pink scarf around its neck. St. Camille, who is dressed in a pink silk tie and an elegant navy suit that highlights his tan skin and his flashy white teeth, leads me up the stairs to his downtown office.
I’m here because lately my social smoking has turned into a little three-cigs-a-day habit—one that I want to kick before I become one of those frightening raspy-voiced women.
St. Camille’s approach to hypnotherapy as a means to pry the nicotine monkey off your back typically takes just two one-hour sessions. Compared to the scads of unsightly nicotine patches I would have to otherwise don to try to break my habit, this seems like a deal.
He seats me on a red couch draped in fur. Then St. Camille places a fitted blindfold over my eyes and a pair of headphones in my ears. Speaking into a microphone, he tells me to picture myself alone on a beach. “I want you to imagine now that we can dematerialize you into trillions and trillions of tiny molecules…but before we dematerialize you we scan your mind, your brain, your body the way we might scan a computer’s hard drive for a program that is corrupted…and we delete all smoking routines.”
For the next 30 minutes, St. Camille’s soothing voice instructs my mind as I drift in and out of consciousness. I leave feeling not sure if I had been hypnotized or just sleepy.
Two weeks later, I’m still occasionally indulging in the sweet relief of nicotine, but am no longer carrying around a pack. And everyone knows if you’re only bumming cigs off others, you’re no longer a real smoker.
— Maude Standish
About $240 for two sessions
THE FIX: THE PATCH
I started smoking in high school because all the cool kids were doing it. Then I quit. Then I started again in college because all the cool kids were doing it. In my defense, I was a theater major, and theater people are a smoking breed—it makes us look so dramatic.
Of course, it also stains our teeth, clogs our lungs and makes us reek. I don’t smoke much these days; I never take cigarette breaks at work and go days without even thinking about smoking. But there’s one hurdle I’ve never been able to jump: If I’ve got a beer in my hand, I long for a drag; before I can stop myself, I’ve bought a pack.
Now that the smoking ban includes bars, it’s time to finally kick the habit. Popping out for a cig isn’t a fun prospect in the middle of Chicago winter, so it seems time to test-drive the nicotine patch. But since my craving’s more psychological than physical, I’m worried that it wouldn’t do much for me. I was kind of right.
Nicoderm CQ comes in three dosage steps to ease the nicotine craving: 21mg of nicotine a day, down to 14 and then seven. As a “light smoker” (defined as ten or fewer cigs a day), I start with step two. Day one I’m a wreck—not because I want a cigarette, but because it’s more nicotine than my body is used to having. That woozy rush you get from the first drag of the day? I have it all day long. But on my first night out on the patch, it does keep me from smoking, if only because I’m afraid I’ll pass out if I put any more nicotine in my body.
Still, the patch doesn’t stop me from wanting a smoke with my cocktail, and at around $50 for every two-week supply (the makers suggest an eight-week process for me, and ten for heavy smokers, who start with the largest dose), it costs more than I usually spend on smokes. After ten days, I give up on the patch. I’ll have to break my beer-and-cig association without help, but I’m sure to keep trying—I don’t plan to be left out in the cold.— Kris Vire
$48 for a two-week supply; a ten-week program would set you back $240