10 Oct Hypnotherapy for Addiction?
In recent years, the practice of hypnosis has been receiving a lot of positive publicity for its ability to help people make constructive changes in their lives. Hypnotherapists have helped their patients stop smoking, lose weight, reduce anxiety, and overcome insomnia, just to mention a few of their accomplishments, and the list of bad habits and behavioral issues that hypnosis has been used to treat has been expanding steadily.
But what about addiction and alcoholism? Have hypnotists been able to assist those who are attempting to conquer serious substance abuse problems?
The answer to this question is “yes”; hypnosis has in fact been able to help some addicts and alcoholics manage their chemical dependencies more effectively. It is important to emphasize, however, that no responsible hypnotherapist would claim that alcoholism or drug addiction could be overcome through the use of hypnosis alone. Hypnotherapy has proven to be an effective complementary treatment for substance abuse, but it can only make a substantial difference if it is used in combination with more established and conventional forms of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Hypnosis and the Roots of Addiction
Psychologists and counselors who work with substance abusers will spend a significant amount of time trying to help their clients understand the underlying factors that drove them to drugs and alcohol in the first place. This process of deep introspection can at times be quite troubling and disturbing, and addicts and alcoholics will often throw up roadblocks of denial and repression in order to protect themselves from having to face unpleasant truths or re-live traumatic memories.
Hypnosis can be of great assistance to addiction therapists working with patients who are struggling to cope with their pasts and fighting to overcome their reflexive need to run away from painful truths. Deep relaxation and memory enhancement are two of the benefits of hypnosis, both of which can be useful for addicts and alcoholics who need to put aside the fears that are preventing them from recalling the important details of their personal histories. Hypnosis will allow addicts to remember what they have purposely forgotten without becoming overwhelmed by the emotions these efforts will inevitably cause to re-surface.
There is one note of caution here: it is vitally important that efforts to stimulate this sort of deep and intense psychological exploration through the use of hypnosis only be undertaken inside a licensed treatment center or rehabilitation facility. In this type of clinical setting, the professionals on staff will be well prepared to deal with the extreme stress and inner turmoil that addicts can sometimes experience when they are forced to finally come to grips with everything they have been keeping repressed or hidden. There are some addiction specialists who have the kind of advanced training in hypnosis that is necessary to initiate such an approach to treatment, but rehabilitation centers that lack highly-skilled hypnotherapists on their staffs should be sure to bring in someone who has been certified by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis before proceeding.
Hypnosis in Recovery
Hypnotherapy for addiction has a role to play during the recovery phase, after patients have left drug treatment centers and returned to their former lives. At this point, sobriety has essentially been achieved, but the possibility of relapse is always lurking just around the corner, waiting to put an end to all of an addict’s determined attempts to change.
Trained hypnotherapists can show addicts and alcoholics in the recovery phase how to look at everything they are thinking and feeling objectively and analytically, as if they were examining the mind of another person from an elevated and detached perspective. This can lead to insights that will help recovering addicts more clearly identify triggers that might put them at risk of relapse, thereby giving them greater power to resist the temptations brought on by such stimuli.
Peer reviewed studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis have found that addicts who attend hypnotherapy sessions regularly for periods ranging from six months to a year after leaving treatment centers are less likely to suffer relapse. This would seem to verify that hypnosis can definitely help people struggling with difficult issues gain control over their formerly spontaneous reactions and behavior.
A Promising Future
Treatment modalities in drug and alcohol rehabilitation are in a constant state of flux and evolution. Brand new complementary therapies that can effectively supplement traditional methodologies are constantly being discovered, and hypnotherapy certainly deserves an exalted place on this ever-growing list of helpful additions to the substance abuse treatment lexicon. Since only about 10 percent of people are immune to hypnotism, this innovative form of addiction treatment has the potential to help almost anyone who is open to giving it a try.
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