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Breaking bad habits

publication date: Jan 3, 2010
author/source: Keith Souter
Keith SouterA habit is a form of learned behaviour and is not likely to disappear suddenly just by taking a medicine, whether that is an orthodox  or homeopathic. Some form of behavioural modification is going to be necessary.

Modifying behaviour
I favour a graded reduction of the habit and usually advise a period of observation of how often the activity is done. This can be quite informative to the individual, because they may hardly be aware of the extent that the habit has taken over their life. For example, how many cigarettes or how many drinks are consumed?  A small notebook is useful to record whenever the person feels the urge to carry out whatever habit is causing the concern.

With some habits, after the observation period comes an agreed, realistic reduction programme. With cigarettes, for example, you decide on a definite stop smoking day. Then, leading up to this day, you agree a schedule of reduction. Splitting the day into three-hour increments, for example, from waking up until going to bed. Then allocate a maximum number over each segment, but without being able to borrow from one segment or store up for later. And over this period reduce the number of cigarettes. This way you will reduce the physical dependence, so that by stopping day it will only be the psychological dependence that has to be dealt with.
It is a good idea to have habit substitutes. In the case of smoking I advise cutting carrots, celery sticks or liquorice roots to cigarette length and chewing them whenever the craving comes on.

Changing habitat
Think of a habitat as  the places that you indulge the habit. Smokers have had their habitat severely restricted and many people will have given up just by virtue of having been forced out onto the street to indulge their habit.
With problem drinking then avoiding the places where temptation lurks is obviously sensible.

Taking up new interests may help. Choose something that you have never managed to get round to, or which may seem out of character. If you want to change habits, you are changing yourself, so these sorts of changes become symbolic of how you can make it happen.

Homeopathic treatment
Alcohol and tobacco dependence need behavioural treatment, but the following homeopathic medicines have all performed well in treating people with these problems. My approach is to prescribe  30c potency twice a day for three days and repeat at intervals of two weeks.
  • Caladium is a keynote remedy for tobacco addiction, especially in men who have noticed that they have become impotent or have erectile problems. These problems are probably due to the toxicity of nicotine.
  • Capsicum is a good remedy for people who crave drugs, tobacco or alcohol and who tend towards being overweight, of a peppery temperament, and who easily feel homesick.
  • Nux vomica is for fiery, irritable types who are always in a hurry and who are impatient with everyone. "Give me the remedy now," they almost demand.

The above article is part of a longer version published in Health and Homeopathy, autumn 2009.

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire and has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul.