Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (CBTs) are brief, scientifically validated therapies that deal with on the interactions between thoughts, emotions and behaviors. These therapies focus on a person's current problems, while taking into account their historical causes. They help to gradually overcome disabling symptoms and aim to reinforce appropriate behaviors.
CBTs are based on different techniques that help patients identify the mechanisms that cause their difficulties, experiment with new behaviors and thus gradually break out of vicious circles that perpetuate and aggravate mental suffering. They help the person to better understand the negative thought patterns that lead to inappropriate behaviors, such as addiction, that can cause psychological distress.
According to the CBT model, we learn to smoke. Indeed, smoking is a behavior acquired in line with three principles: social learning, classical conditioning learning and operative conditioning learning.
This theory developed by psychologist Albert Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and imitating the behaviors, attitudes and emotions of others. The majority of our actions are therefore inspired by our experiences acquired through other people. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon to hear that a person has started to smoke encouraged by relatives or simply to do "like everyone else ".
This learning, described and theorized by Ivan Pavlov, explains the circumstances that trigger a desire. In conventional conditioning, a stimulus triggers the response of an organism. Thus, a person who has learned to smoke during breaks at work can easily associate his envy with the fact of seeing his colleague leave the office, for example.
Developed by B. F. Skinner, this model emphasizes that our behaviors are influenced by their consequences. Thus, the frequency with which a person smokes will depend on the effects of smoking on that individual; depending on the intensity of the pleasure or soothing felt after smoking, in the short and long term, the person will smoke more or less. If smoking has been associated with very pleasant situations (informal sharing with colleagues, taking work breaks, reducing stress), the likelihood of continuing to smoke increases, even outside pleasant circumstances.
Smoking is thus a behavior that can be learnt through different types of learnings. People who smoke often doubt their ability to change their habits and sometimes do not believe in the harmful effects of smoking. These thoughts and beliefs drive the person to maintain this smoking behavior.
There are different types of thoughts, which are organized into "triads": oneself, others and the future. These thoughts are equally divided according to the stages of unwanted behavior:
Before smoking: "I'm going to smoke to be more awake at work" or "I did a good job so I deserve a cigarette".
While the person is smoking: "Smoking is the only way to decompress"
After smoking: "I have no will, I'm addicted and I'll never be able to quit"
While CBTs have shown that smoking is a learning behavior, they also demonstrate that it is possible to learn another behavior, more appropriate for the person you want to become.
In concrete terms, CBTs teach strategies to deal with the urge to smoke (strategies of avoidance, replacement, repulsion, etc.). For example, a smoker can plan a break with colleagues indoors - a strategy to avoid being surrounded by smokers and being tempted to accept a cigarette. A replacement strategy could be to give yourself a relaxing bath or a good dinner as a reward after hard work - rather than a cigarette. For someone who has chosen to quit smoking, it is therefore a matter of trying to control circumstances as much as possible, in order to adopt a non-smoking behavior that, step by step, will be natural to him. CBTs thus make it possible to think about quitting smoking in the long term, with a view to a better quality of life. The emphasis is therefore placed on knowing and mastering these strategies in order to increase the former smoker's self-confidence. This will make him realize that he is able to achieve his goal of abstinence.
Stimulus control strategies are oriented towards regaining control for a person who has quit smoking in situations where he is less likely to succeed, such as the following examples:
A person can avoid situations with a high risk of relapse by going to places where he can control his desires. At work, for example, he may plan an indoor break with colleagues, get some fresh air in 100% smoke-free places or be careful not to have any cigarettes in his bag or pockets.
It is a question of finding alternative behaviors, which have the same role as a cigarette before. If the smoked cigarette was a symbol of a reward after a long day of work, the person can use a replacement strategy, as it is important that he continues to please himself for all his efforts! But how can we associate rewarding with another behavior? It depends on the researched function; if the cigarette had a relaxing effect on the person, breathing techniques may be a good alternative.
It is a form of alternative strategy. Thoughts in general are the driving force that makes it easier to take action and maintain habits in the most difficult moments. The important thing is to recognize these automatic thoughts and to look for alternatives. For example, in case of a permissive thought, the person may say to himself: "I worked well, so I’ll eat an apple. ». For a comforting thought: "I need to decompress, I'm going to call a friend. "I will go to bed earlier to be more fit at work tomorrow. ».
If, for the moment, another alternative behavior is not yet conceivable, it is possible to adopt a repulsion strategy. This one consists in keeping the action that the person wants to change but postponing it until later. The objective is not to automatically succumb to strong sensations, especially during withdrawal, to allow oneself time to become aware of these unpleasant sensations which are only temporary and to remember one's objectives. For example, following a strong desire to smoke, the person can give himself 15 minutes to evaluate what to do next. Either the craving passes, or he smokes 15 minutes later. In both cases, the individual will have won a new battle and will be able to congratulate himself because he will have taken another step forward towards his objectives!
CBTs are one of the only non-medicinal approaches whose effectiveness has been scientifically proven, and that is why Kwit is entirely based on its principles.
In fact, Kwit aims to provide daily support to its users, always with kindness and positive motivation in their smoking cessation. The user can count on this application to become a real partner; during times of distress or demotivation, the former smoker only has to shake his smartphone to receive a motivational message designed to restore his self-confidence, make him feel better and help him resist his potential cravings to smoke.
In addition, Kwit accepts that a former smoker may go through periods of weakness and relapse. In that respect, the application encourages him to analyze the factors and emotions that triggered this intense desire in his "diary". Acceptance of relapse thus enables the user to learn to understand and therefore over time to control his desires with his own strategies, and to adopt a behavior of which he can be proud. Kwit helps the user defend the idea that a relapse is not a failure and that he has, despite this misstep, the ability to take control of himself to achieve his goal of becoming an "Ultimate Kwitter".
So Kwit is a faithful companion that invites its user to believe in himself. This self-confidence also includes unlocking successes as the Kwitter progresses through withdrawal. He is thus valued and keeps a concrete track of his achievements, which he does not necessarily become aware of without the app. Seeing the progress on this path to a smoke-free life gives a lot of energy, and strengthens the will of the Kwitter.
Finally, Kwit highlights, throughout these successes, all the benefits of quitting smoking for the Kwitter: the improvement in his state of health and general well-being, the money and time he saves, the number of cigarettes he has not smoked or the actual decrease in the carbon level he has in his blood. All these indicators raise awareness and prove to the user that he is becoming the person he wants to be, by quitting smoking.
As a continuation of the application of CBT-based methods, the Kwit withdrawal solution is also inspired by the "R.A.I.N." approach, coming from mindfulness meditation, which encourages people to recognize, accept, analyze and step back from, in this case, cigarette addiction.