Smoking for distraction is a way for people to avoid worries and bad feelings. Smoking is often a substitute for something else. My client today was unusual. He smoked fifteen cigarettes a day every day, except weekends. He doesn't smoke at all on the weekends, but he cannot give up the weekday smokes.
It is quite common to find people who only smoke at night, or only at weekends, or never when there are other people around. Many smokers can go without for long periods of time depending on the situation they are in.
This client smokes in the van on the way to work. He is a business owner in charge of several jobs where tradesmen are working independently at different work sites. All day he worries about the job, progress and what has to be done next. And that is the key to his smoking.
He is in fact catastrophizing about what could go wrong with each job. On the way there he winds himself up by imagining what he will find when he gets there, and uses smoking as a way to relieve the pressure. He is smoking for distraction. That is why he doesn't need to smoke on weekends: he doesn't have to go talk to workmen about progress on weekends.
Previous Therapy Fails
He had been to a hypnotist before many years ago. And he lit up on the way home from that session. I believe that people find it easier to modify their behavior when they understand what is driving it. In this case I found that he also had aspects of depression. His mind is always busy and he is a bit of perfectionist.
This combination means that he worries that things are going wrong when he is not there, this causes anxiety and the smoking given hem something to do to break the cycle. Now that he knows why he smokes and what he gets from it, it will be easier for him to come up with different strategies to get the same result.
In this case he decided that he would chew a pencil instead, and take a ten minute brisk walk after each site visit. That, combined with the stop-smoking trance I did with him should allow him to stop immediately.