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Allen Carr

Alan Carr's books and quitting philosophy have benefited numerous people.

Since Carr's philosophy, or quitting method is widely discussed, a summary will be included in the FAQ. This does not mean that AS3 endorses, supports, or solicites Carr's publications. If Carr's philosophy intrigues you, then feel free to investigate further on your own.

The following synopsis of Carr's Method was written and contributed by David Moss and originally posted to AS3:

"First, Allen Carr's qualifications: he's not a doctor or a psychologist, he's a guy who smoked five packs per day (I didn't even know that was possible!) and who quit one day with no difficulty whatsoever. He was so astounded by this that he subsequently devoted his time to finding out why quitting had been so easy for him, and then wrote a book about it.

"He understands how smokers' minds work, so he doesn't fill his book with a load of horror stories on why you shouldn't smoke. We all know that already, and it doesn't help. Allen Carr turns it around and asks, why smoke? Our bodies tell us 'have a cigarette' and we give way, or we fight it with huge amounts of willpower. Instead, we should ask our bodies 'what for?'. He takes all the stock answers - it tastes good, it helps me relax, it helps me concentrate, it relieves stress, it relieves boredom - and disproves them one by one. In fact, we smoke to relieve the withdrawal symptoms that we all suffer between cigarettes, because nicotine is a fast acting, fast decaying drug. All the other justifications are rationalizations which don't stand up to scrutiny. The logical conclusion is that you shouldn't even think in terms of 'giving up' cigarettes, because you're not giving up anything - you're just stopping smoking because you simply don't need cigarettes.

"His next point is that quitting is actually very easy. Most smokers make the mistake of confusing the physical withdrawal symptoms with the psychological "crawling up the walls" cravings and panic that you get when you want to smoke and can't. The actual physical withdrawal symptoms are a mild, empty, hunger-like feeling, which doesn't hurt and which is easy to ignore. The psychological cravings, because they're psychological, will simply cease to exist if you can develop the right mental attitude. For this reason, Carr is very insistent that the reader continue to smoke until he's got his attitude right (i.e. until he's finished the book), so as to avoid the negative experience of a failed attempt to quit. Think about the question given above - what positive benefits do you get from smoking - until you're completely convinced that smoking gives you nothing. You don't need huge feats of willpower, because you're not giving up anything. Making quitting into a test of willpower only makes it harder. You don't need replacements like sweets or gum, because you're not giving up anything that needs replacing. You don't need nicotine patches or nicotine gum, because you don't need nicotine. Enjoy the withdrawal symptoms, because that's how it feels when you defeat your addiction.

"We all know that it takes about three weeks for the body to be cleared of nicotine. But don't think in terms of 'making it' three weeks without a cigarette, which would lead you to expect something wonderful to happen after three weeks. Nothing happens, because the physical withdrawal symptoms are so mild that you don't even notice they've gone. That wonderful thing happens in the moment you stub out your last cigarette and become a non smoker. Don't get melancholy and depressed about life without cigarettes, because you're not giving up anything. Enjoy life as a non-smoker, it's better in every way. Don't even try to avoid thinking about cigarettes - every time you think of them, think about how wonderful it is that you don't need them.

"Allen Carr gives five point that need to be internalized before you begin:
  1. Be quite clear in your mind, you're going to quit. Not hoping to quit or trying to quit, just going to quit. It's easy.
  2. You're not giving up anything, but you're gaining a hell of a lot.
  3. There's no such thing as 'just one cigarette'. Your choices are to quit, or to smoke for the rest of your life.
  4. Don't think of smoking as an unpleasant habit. It's an addiction, and it's getting worse every day. The right time to quit is now.
  5. Understand the difference between the chemical addiction and the 'junkie' mentality. As soon as you stub out your last cigarette, you're a non-smoker. Non-smokers are people who don't use cigarettes.

"If you've really taken these points on board, quitting will be simple and absolutely painless. You don't believe it? That's not surprising, we've all been brainwashed by advertising, by films, by society's generally tolerant attitude to smoking, and by our own addiction. You need to open your mind and think about what Carr is saying in order to ditch this conditioning and realize that Carr is right.

"Finally, a disclaimer - the above is my personal summary of Allen Carr's book, and I may have left out or misunderstood something important.

"I very much hope that this information will make quitting as easy for someone out there as it was for me, and I'd be happy to deal with any follow-up questions. David"