Rebels without a cause: A convenient excuse for not being able to quit smoking or a predisposition to failure?

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Rebels are everywhere, and they aren’t of the usual teenager variety! 

A 2019 report by the World Health Organization shows that smoking kills over 8 million people a year. It is no wonder that nearly 70% of smokers want to quit.  Nevertheless, annual quit success rates remain low, at roughly 7%. This suggests an awareness of tobacco’s life-threatening consequences, but not enough willingness to change.  Certain personality traits tend to resist professional help, therefore making it hard to quit smoking says QUIT smoking expert, Julia Lorent.

shutterstock_717350314.jpgCertain personality traits hinder the road to breaking an addiction.  Resentful and rebellious types find it difficult to accept help and face change.  The solution is to rewire the brain, a process known as ‘neuroplasticity’.  Practising a different emotional response to treatment is the key to breaking an addiction.  With the right approach, anyone can move forward and live a healthy, smoke-free life. First, we need to understand the power of the brain.


“Someone naturally defiant might seek help with their addiction, but when they come to the session, they automatically associate the guidance of a professional with an attempt to control. The result is a refusal to cooperate. This reaction might be rooted in years of associating ‘change’ with ‘danger’; therefore, resistance is a form of protection “ says Julia.  “Rewiring the brain can change this natural response, which is not as scary as it sounds.”


The brains strong neural pathways are habits or “programs” and “schemas” we develop to defend, protect and succeed. Usually formed early in life, they can be changed and altered. Archaic opinions of the “broken brain” are thrown to the curb and we now know the brain is indeed “plastic” and can be retrained. To change bad habits, these old pathways must be weakened by forming new ones. In other words- any dog can be taught new tricks!

shutterstock_1085940914.jpg“New thought patterns are formed by thinking of something differently or practicing a different emotion until the brain begins to use this pathway more. Trained professionals just like us have trained extensively in this field, everyone is different and so it is very important to do this process professionally.  Eventually, that way of thinking will feel like second nature while the old pathway will weaken until the person’s behavior has changed” says the keynote speaker and hypnotherapist.

Known as ‘Neuroplasticity’, this process can change how a person emotionally responds to the treatment of their addiction.  For example, a smoker decides they want to quit, so they go to a treatment session but then they start to feel a strong emotional resistance.

According to Melbourne QUIT Smoking Clinic this response is likely because:

  1. They associate change with fear; therefore, feelings of rebellion start to rise as a form of protection.

  2. They feel like they are being ordered to do something and not in control.

  3. It is too difficult to overcome the resistance to change because the neural pathway is too strong.

Changing something significant like smoking can be uncomfortable. This may derive from a deep-seated fear of failure or the unknown. For example it can be incredibly daunting to imagine themselves in social situations without the stimulant to aid them.

shutterstock_1103094848.jpgUltimately, people respond to change with dragging feet. That is why addiction therapy is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes training and patience. It is all about taking it one step at a time and accepting the help needed to cross the finish line.

However, according to Ms. Lorent before training can even begin, clients who are hostile, defensive, demanding, and rebellious must address their emotional response to treatment. “We can treat the source of resistance by creating and strengthening new, positive neural pathways — an essential part of achieving lasting change.”


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