August 3rd, 2010
06:14 PM ET

Change your thinking to kick that cigarette habit

Imagine how tantalizing, how powerful the craving for a cigarette is. Then imagine you could stem that craving by merely changing the way you think. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that merely thinking differently could help control cravings.

"Most people think that the reason smokers use substances is because of a lack of self-control," said Kevin Ochsner, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University. "We show they don't lack it, the problem they have is they may not know what strategy to use."

Let's face it, our brains are wired for short-term rewards, whether it is the first drag on a cigarette or the first bite of a hot stack of pancakes. According to study authors, the strategy to curb those cravings is almost deceptively simple: re-wiring the brain to think long-term.

Ochsner and colleagues gave brain scans to 21 people who reported regularly smoking. They posed two scenarios. In one, they measured what happened in the brain after asking smokers to think about the immediate rewards of smoking, for example the first drag on a cigarette, how the smoke would feel entering the lungs, or the sensation of smoke curling out of the mouth. In the second scenario smokers were asked to imagine the long-term consequences of smoking - health problems associated with it - such as emphysema or heart disease.

By way of comparison, the same was done with food. Study respondents were shown photos of delectable, fatty foods and asked to think about the short-term rewards (how great the food would taste), and the long-term consequences (obesity, diabetes, heart disease) while their brain activity was measured.

Turns out, something as simple as focusing on the long-term consequences of smoking (or eating fatty foods) could control the craving.

"This gives us a biological explanation for how cognitive regulation of craving works," said Hedy Kober, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and the study's lead author. "By changing the way they think about cigarettes in moments of craving, by focusing on the negative long-term consequences, [smokers] can reduce craving and change their own brain activity."

Two areas of the brain are at work when we crave things - the prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum. The prefrontal cortex is an area associated with reasoning and the ventral striatum is associated with emotion, desire, and craving. Among study participants, successfully curbing cravings involved activating the reasoning part of the brain more than the craving-driven region.

Except re-wiring the brain, re-shaping how one thinks about craving, is far from simple - it is a long process. And then there are important questions about the biological underpinnings of addiction. Still, study authors say that thinking differently is powerful therapy.

"It takes a sustained, continuous effort," said Ochsner. "It is teaching you a new kind of emotional response instead of just going reflexively. It's slow and painful but we absolutely have the potential to do it."

Post by:
Filed under: Addiction • Brain • Psychology • Smoking

soundoff (3,495 Responses)
  1. Irena Eshleman


    June 11, 2021 at 06:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rv repair near me now

    Good site you've got here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    June 11, 2021 at 06:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Patrick Sovich

    I really like it when folks come together and share thoughts. Great blog, keep it up!

    June 11, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Matilda Callow


    June 11, 2021 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Isidra Remley

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 11, 2021 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. fun88

    I think this is one of the so much important info for me.
    And i'm happy studying your article. But want to commentary on some basic things,
    The web site taste is wonderful, the articles is in reality great : D.
    Good process, cheers

    June 11, 2021 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. rv repair service near me


    June 11, 2021 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. near me


    June 11, 2021 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rv media center

    Excellent web site you've got here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    June 11, 2021 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. kênh bóng đá tv

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Hôm Nay, Liên Kết Coi Soccer Trực Tuyến 24hbxh anhTheo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania vào ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới mang đến futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon tuy nhiên sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi bên trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch thi đấu, bạn hoàn toàn có thể sắp xếp làm việc


    June 11, 2021 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. near me


    June 11, 2021 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. vinyl wrap for rv

    Hi there! I just would like to offer you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you have got here on this post. I'll be coming back to your website for more soon.


    June 11, 2021 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Beds Near Me


    June 11, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Alignment Shop

    There is definately a lot to know about this issue. I love all of the points you have made.


    June 11, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sprinter 2500 Front Glass Repair


    June 11, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. horse trailer remodel

    I'm more than happy to uncover this site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and I have you saved to fav to look at new information on your site.


    June 11, 2021 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Toilets California

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It's the little changes that will make the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 11, 2021 at 21:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sprinter Van Dent Repair Shop


    June 11, 2021 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. 2006 Mercades Sprinter 2500 Turbo Actuator Repair


    June 11, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Dodge Sprinter Repair Service

    I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    June 11, 2021 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. gamewin88 slot

    Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much
    the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

    My homepage ... gamewin88 slot

    June 11, 2021 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv repair lancaster ca


    June 11, 2021 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Furniture Los Angeles


    June 12, 2021 at 04:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Municipal Vehicle Repair Shop


    June 12, 2021 at 04:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv repair santa fe

    Saved as a favorite, I like your blog!


    June 12, 2021 at 04:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Van Wheelchair Lift Repair Near Me


    June 12, 2021 at 04:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Van Body Shop Near Me


    June 12, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. rv repair shop near me

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don't speak about such topics. To the next! All the best!!


    June 12, 2021 at 07:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Municipal Vehicle Repair

    Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 12, 2021 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Blinds Los Angeles

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article plus the rest of the site is also very good.


    June 12, 2021 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Frieghtliner Sprinter Abs Module Repair

    You've made some good points there. I checked on the internet for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 12, 2021 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mercedes Sprinter Authorized Repair Center

    There's definately a lot to learn about this topic. I love all the points you have made.


    June 12, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Frank Buscher


    June 12, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Shemika Allgeier


    June 12, 2021 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Lou Hennard

    That is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate infoÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

    June 12, 2021 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Tennie Calumag


    June 12, 2021 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. MileSwa

    buy cialis online cialis and depoxitine levitra vs cialis vs viagra

    June 12, 2021 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. ollies near me


    June 12, 2021 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. office supplies near me

    Hello there, I do believe your site could be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, wonderful website!


    June 12, 2021 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. EncoxGtv

    us online pharmacy viagra true rx pharmacy most trusted canadian pharmacy

    June 12, 2021 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. recycling near me


    June 12, 2021 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. tow truck near me


    June 12, 2021 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. mcdonalds near me

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you book-marked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    June 12, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. EncoxDev

    america rx pharmacy Micardis anti-depressants

    June 12, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. qt near me


    June 12, 2021 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. ZisseVed

    how soon before sex should i take cialis generic cialis coupons order cialis india

    June 12, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. five below near me


    June 12, 2021 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. bookstores near me

    You're so awesome! I don't suppose I've truly read through anything like that before. So nice to discover somebody with original thoughts on this issue. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!


    June 12, 2021 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. horseback riding near me


    June 13, 2021 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. dry ice near me


    June 13, 2021 at 01:11 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

Leave a Reply to RV Repair Shop Near My Location


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.