How to stop adults from sucking their thumbs

Written by crystal lassen
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How to stop adults from sucking their thumbs
Apply something nasty tasting, such as a band-aid, to the thumb sucker's thumb. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

It is common for children up to age 5 to suck their thumbs; however, it is less often that one hears about adult thumb suckers. Adults suck their thumbs for basically the same reasons that children do. Thumb sucking can be a means of bringing a feeling of comfort or stress control. When an adult feels stress, the thumb sucking behaviour can manifest as it is related to a comforting, low-stress time of one's life. Breaking the cycle can be difficult, especially if the individual has been sucking his thumb for life.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Behavioural therapy
  • Hypnotist
  • Medication

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  1. 1

    Try an alternative. Perhaps you suck your thumb as an oral fixation. Chew gum or eat a sucker whenever you feel the need to place your thumb in your mouth. If you feel the need to suck your thumb only when it's bedtime, your thumb sucking could be related to relaxation. Try drinking soothing tea before bed or reading yourself to sleep. Sleeping pills can also help you relax and drift off fairly quickly. Other relaxation techniques that may be helpful are meditation exercises or stepping into a hot bath.

  2. 2

    Attend behavioural therapy. If thumb sucking is affecting your relationships, visit a therapist. Behavioural therapists can help you learn how to modify your behaviours in a positive and effective way. You will likely attend private sessions and may be directed to a support group in which you will interact with others who have similar behavioural disorders. Your therapist will also likely provide you with a series of mental exercises or techniques that you can perform at home whenever you feel the need to suck your thumb.

  3. 3

    Hypnosis has been known to work for some people with a wide variety of issues. Attend a licensed hypnotist and try it for yourself. Beware of scams. Talk to people you know or even ask your doctor or therapist for ideas. Find a hypnotist that is well-known and has a large client base. Schedule a visitation appointment to visit with the hypnotist before you allow him or her to hypnotise you. A visitation will give you a better idea if the hypnotist that you have selected is professional or not.

  4. 4

    Visit your primary physician. It's likely that your thumb sucking is the result of excess stress or anxiety. If this is the case, try taking an anti-anxiety medication. The only anti-anxiety medications approved by the FDA are available only through prescription from a licensed professional. Before you take any medications, inquire about the possible side effects of the medication that you are thinking of taking.

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