In our previous piece, we spoke about the ill effects of tobacco use on the psyche and the body. We’d now like to elaborate on the techniques used to aid smoking cessation. There are a several methods involving medication and counseling techniques to aid cessation. These are used in combination to deal with the habit at hand!
 
Medications like Champix or nicotine patches may aid cessation. Some clinicians even suggest the use of an e-cigarette to slowly wean off smoking. Medication is also supplemented by brief advice, or full-fledged counseling to aid the process. Motivational Interviewing is an approach that finds its applications here. It is a ‘quiet and eliciting’ technique that helps individuals question their decisions subtly. The framework used in Motivational Interviewing is known as the OARS.
 
  • ‘O’ in the OARS stands for open-ended questions. These are questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no response. Some examples would be asking how important the act of quitting is to the patient, or what would happen if they quit. This would help them understand how what they are working towards is positive for their long-term health! Most people do not think that they can manage without the rush that a cigarette induces. They may be hesitant to quit right away. In this case, it is important for the clinician to not impose upon the individual, but to relate to their problems. Saying that they understand their concerns, and that they will be slowly and steadily handled is probably the best bet!
 
  • ‘A’ refers to affirmations. It is often rare for those who face an addiction to receive an affirmation about how well they might be doing to abstain. Giving the individual the initial push by encouraging them might just be the trick to help them overcome their lack of self-control. Telling them that they’re doing a good job with finding other ways to deal with the stresses of work or family will reassure them. Advising that a positive outlook will help their cause could help them go cold-turkey.
 
  • ‘R’ refers to reflective listening. Hearing out what a client has to say helps clinicians understand their concerns, and also what works towards helping them reach a goal. Highlighting concerns about maintaining weight by smoking increases trust. What if an individual isn’t open to change yet? It becomes important to hear them out and try to reinforce the impetus for change within them through one’s words. If they’re going through a spell of hectic hours at work, reassure them that they will be able to quit after this spell. This will probably help them stick to their guns!
 
  • ‘S’ refers to summarizing. Giving an individual an overview of their behaviors and tendencies often helps them think rationally. Telling them that they might enjoy smoking despite the disapproval from their family is an example. It might make them think, “How does this affect the people I love? Is it wise for me to make them worry so much about me? Is their concern legitimate?”
 
A meta-analysis conducted by Lai et.al proves that Motivational Interviewing aids smoking cessation. The studies involved close to 10,000 smokers. The results were fascinating. Compared to brief advice, motivational interviewing worked better with medication towards successful attempts. The increased successful quit attempts shows that Motivational Interviewing is indeed, effective. If you’re facing issues with quitting, this approach might just be the answer for you!

An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.