Allen Carr’s ‘Easy Way’ method helped millions quit smoking, but medicine never took it seriously — until now
I just quit smoking ... only 2 days ago, so I might be jumping the gun with that statement, but I'm feeling pretty confident at the moment. Still vaping with a minimal nicotine dose. In a week, I'll cut out the nicotine entirely, and in two weeks, quit the vaping, too. That's the plan now, anyway.
I posted about it here, and among the feedback, this guy Alan Carr's EasyWay method of quitting was recommended (thanks @Amarok).
I'm not using it, but never heard of him/it before and found this article about it. It's a really cool read. Not sure if it counts as science, or health, or life or what. But the most interesting thing to me was how the scientific community ignored his method and claimed success rate, mainly just because they didn't like how the guy talked crap about every other method of quitting. Preliminary evidence showed his method had a success rate somewhere between 25%-90% which, even at the bottom of that range, was at least as good as any other treatment known. But the scientific community dismissed it for 30 years, because the guy came off as a used-car salesman.
So for me, this is interesting for many reasons, but primarily for highlighting how the scientific method in practice sometimes fails humanity.
Edit: His method is hard to pin down, especially with any kind of scientific rigor ... but the tl;dr version is the idea that, once you understand well and truly, that smoking is an addiction, and there's nothing about it you actually enjoy, that almost magically, it suddenly becomes easy to quit. Based on that, one can appreciate why the scientific community had doubts. Here's a 'money' quote.
"...smoking is like putting on a pair of shoes that were two sizes too small, for the simple pleasure of taking them off every couple hours."
Good on ya, I had decent luck with the scale-down vape method. It let me indulge the ticks while weaning off the drug which helped against relapse immensely.
I think you had mentioned tending to relapse ariund 4-6 weeks. I'd reccomend going with a low/no nicotine vape until at least through that first relapase window. For me, the physical addiction to nicotine wasn't the problem, it was all the deeply engrained behaviors that went along with smoking. Playing with your lighter, fiddling with your fingers, the oral fixiation. Plus all the social stuff you had engrained in your day....the hardest part of quitting was finding a new rythmn for breaks. Going by the addiction clock was stress relieving at work, but adhering to the same schedule made cravings stronger, and skipping breaks made work more stressful and also made cravings stronger.
Keep the vape around until you're pretty confident you won't relapse. Better to fall back on vaping than all the way back down to smoke.
One of my friends had a similar sort of "doing stuff with hands" addiction to you. When he gave up smoking (in the days before vapes), he took up origami and would fold something whenever his hands wanted him to go through the motions of smoking. Over the next couple of months every flat surface in our house slowly filled up with paper cranes, frogs, bears and so on.
When I gave up I did it one cigarette at a time. First I gave up until 9am, which meant breaking the habit of the smoke on the walk to work. That took at least 2-3 weeks before I didn't want that cigarette any more. Then I gave up until 11am, which meant breaking the habit of the mid-morning smoke break. By the time I reached the last smoke before bed a couple of months later, I didn't want it at all. For me, breaking one big task - giving up entirely - down into smaller, more easily achievable tasks worked really well. Losing the smoke on the way to work was easier because I knew I only had to make it until mid-morning. Then that was one was easier because I only had to make it until lunch, etc. I know that approach won't work for everyone but it was good for me.
The important bit, I think, is that you have to want to give up. Then it's a question of finding a method that works - be that vaping, gum, Easy Way, whatever. If you don't want to stop nothing will help.
Most definitely. I wasn't able to give up 100% until I had kids. That helped cement my self determination to quit.
After vaping since 2013, I quit cold turkey tonight. I'm snapping an elastic on my wrist whenever I reach for the empty space on my desk.
Stick with it. ditching tobacco is actually great once its all over with.
The sad thing is, I "officially" quit almost 20 years ago. Since then, I have allowed myself to get re-addicted 7-8 times, often after being completely smoke-free for many years. I would always "re-quit" after a couple months, when it became obvious I had let myself get hooked again.
It was always easy for me to quit, so I never fretted too much about starting back up (though I never actually intended to start back up). But this last time has been hard. My intention as of now is to really quit this time, for life.
that's fairly common. I used to work with a guy who was doing a pack a day in winter and didn't smoke the rest of the year. He'd done this for twenty years.
Best of luck quitting forever!
Am I the only one who finds Alan Carr (and honestly anything that involves CBT or is CBT-adjacent) to be incredibly patronizing and counterproductive? When I tried the Easyway, it came off as just telling you "you dumb idiot, you only smoke because you don't know it's an addiction and you actually don't like it."
Every time I've had a therapist who's tried to push CBT for other things in my life, it's ended with me leaving their practice because all it does is activate this deep and strong oppositional streak in my mind that makes change impossible until what it perceives as the external imposition of values and thoughts ends. It sucks because I've had many therapists who both get almost offended when I lead with "let's not try any CBT, it has not worked one iota for my issues in past experience", and declare me treatment-resistant when it doesn't work, despite not trying any other treatment modalities first. I'm curious if that's due to my CPTSD issues (as I've seen in multiple places that CBT is contraindicated in PTSD treatment, and can in fact be harmful), but since the DSM still doesn't recognize that as a diagnosis, it's been a challenge finding trauma-informed therapists that do understand this.
While that may be true for some (even most) people, it's absolutely not true for me. I enjoyed the effects of nicotine from my very first cigarette onwards, and as someone with ADHD, nicotine on its own is an effective self-medication-- never mind the synergistic effects that Adderall and other stimulants have with nicotine. I disliked smelling like stale smoke and the mess of ash/butts, but outside of that, I genuinely enjoy nicotine, and it's why I've been vaping at a 3mg level for two years now-- it's the perfect mix of oral fixation (something I had long before I ever picked up a cigarette), nicotine, and not stinking after use, plus with reduced (no, I'm not claiming it's perfectly healthy) health concerns relative to combustion.
TLDR: Alan Carr basically wrote a CBT-based self help book, but there's a chunk of us for whom any CBT approaches are utterly ineffective.
There are many criticisms about CBT that I would agree with, but I'm not sure I would agree "patronizing and counterproductive" to be one of them.
(For those out of the know, we're talking about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
The biggest problem I have with CBT is that it's become the "lowest common denominator" of psychotherapies - it's basically the "Just give them antidepressants" for anything where there's no magical pill that will solve their problems. It's an extremely basic form of therapy which doesn't need terribly extensive training to become good at. And it's such a 'cheap' form of therapy that there are companies who are training chatbots to perform those duties instead.
Like any psychotherapy school, there's immense variation in how each professional approaches its actual practice. Some are patronizing, some are not, and so on.
Personally, I find CBT boring but useful, there's rarely anything surprising or exhilarating.
It's not the image many people have of therapy, we kinda expect profound revelations of some sort. Psychoanalysis is kinda like that, and it's useful as well.
I'd say that psychoanalysis (Lacanian is the one I know) is great for broad existential and philosophical crisis, for those who need to find their place in life. Issues of identity, as well as other problems of great complexity, abstraction, and subjectivity.
CBT is more about specific goals, such as fighting addiction, dealing with a particular source of anxiety or stress, overcoming a specific fobia, etc.
I think of therapists providing CBT as filling the same cultural space that older relatives fill in more communal societies and pastors or other community spiritual figures fill in areas with more believers. They're an authority figure infused with culturally-relevant wisdom listening to someone's problems and helping to set them on the right track.