The Benefits of Using Hypnotherapy in Addiction Treatment

Hypnotherapy as an Addiction Treatment — The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab

The Benefits of Using Hypnotherapy in Addiction Treatment

Updated on 09/30/20

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, you may be confused about your options for addiction treatment. While conventional methods are helpful for medical detox and treatment, there are many different ways to address addiction. One holistic treatment option that is finding excellent success in treating addiction is hypnotherapy.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis to help a person create a positive change in his or her unconscious mind. Many people are familiar with stage hypnosis, but this type of treatment is more focused. It is delivered by a trained hypnotherapist who speaks with clients during a session, learning about different aspects of their life that they want to examine and change.

The therapist then puts the client into a hypnotic state, which relaxes the unconscious mind. This is when a person is more susceptible to changing old ideas and feelings, which is something that applies to addiction treatment.

Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Unfortunately, hypnosis has received a bad reputation thanks to silly stage gimmicks and even outright scams. The of hypnotherapy as a treatment is something much different. Hypnosis is an ancient therapy that has been used successfully for thousands of years.

Hypnosis, while effective, is not meant to be the single source of treatment for anyone’s substance use disorder or other issues. Instead, it is intended to be part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program that may also include several types of holistic treatment options.

As to the question of whether hypnosis works, it certainly does. One study published in the Journal
of the National Cancer Institute concluded that hypnosis was successful in alleviating post-surgical pain as well as fatigue, nausea, and other discomforts.

When used with traditional methods, many types of holistic treatments can enhance addiction recovery.

How Effective Is Hypnotherapy as Addiction Treatment?

Hypnosis is being used with great success in addiction treatment. There are quite a few studies that confirm its effectiveness in this setting. One study called “Group Hypnosis of Drug Addicts” looks at using hypnotherapy to treat people who have an opioid use disorder. The goal of the treatment was to reduce or eliminate the participant’s use of heroin and other street drugs.

Of the study participants who receive hypnotherapy, 90 percent completed treatment. Within six months, 100 percent of those were still off of drugs and 78 percent remained abstinent at the two-year mark.

positive results from different studies, many rehabs are incorporating this type of holistic treatment into their programs. This is a powerful supplement to a comprehensive addiction treatment program that can help in several ways. These include:

  • Lessening withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can be physically and mentally intense. Hypnosis can help manage these symptoms.
  • Alleviating pain. Hypnosis can alleviate other physical and emotional pain that could be a barrier to addiction recovery.
  • Changing addictive behavior. This holistic treatment works on the unconscious mind to alter ideas and change dangerous behaviors linked to addiction.
  • Boosting emotional health. Hypnotherapy can treat co-occurring disorders as well as contribute to stronger overall emotional health.

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, The Recovery Village offers a range of addiction treatment options that are customized to meet your needs. We include many holistic treatment choices to give you the best chance at recovery and finding a new way to live.

Contact us now to get answers to any questions and explore your admissions options with one of our addiction specialists.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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Does Hypnosis Work for Drug Addiction?

The Benefits of Using Hypnotherapy in Addiction Treatment

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy is the process of using relaxation techniques to induce suggestions on the mind, which then affect the conscious mind, which is thought to be effective in treating substance use disorders related to behavioral problems.

While often a subject of contention in medical circles, hypnosis is a commonly sought out treatment for drug addiction, with patients and their families relying on professional and non-professional hypnotics to relieve damaging behavior patterns related to drug abuse.

If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, hypnosis can seem a relatively easy treatment solution to help work around compulsive drug use symptoms. However, there is a lot you should know about hypnosis and its effects on the mind and drug addiction before relying on it as your only solution.

What is Hypnosis?

Most people have an idea of hypnosis as a magic trick, where someone is hypnotized using a focus such as a spinning pendulum to focus attention and lull the patient into a trance- state, after which they become incredibly susceptible to suggestion.

While the reality is much less extreme and often involves a long series of relaxation techniques, hypnosis does allow a hypnotherapist to bring the patient into a state where they feel awake but completely relaxed.

This is a state of disassociation, where the unconscious mind comes forward and the person often isn’t entirely aware of what they are doing or what is real.

This process is similar to that experienced by meditation, some hallucinogens, and other drugs, which are used to increase suggestiveness in patients (for example, LSD was used by the CIA to induce suggestiveness).

About 15% of the population is very easily hypnotized where about 25% of patients cannot be hypnotized at all.

Once under hypnosis, a trained hypnotherapist works to implant a suggestion, typically a new behavior. Here, repulsion from your drug of choice is a common tactic, where the hypnotherapist works to create a feeling of loathing or disgust whenever that drug is mentioned or present.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy combines hypnosis with traditional psychology and behavioral therapy, typically with the intent of using hypnosis as a short-term fix and behavioral therapy as a long-term solution.

Here, a registered psychologist or therapist performs the hypnosis and supports that hypnosis with treatment.

The therapist may use the hypnotized state to try to access memories and trauma which might be underlying the addiction or to implant suggestions to change their perspective on drugs or their own behaviors.

Does Hypnosis Cure Drug Addiction?

While hypnosis is widely used to treat drug addiction in the United States, it is not a cure. No one will go to one session and walk away recovered.

Some studies show that hypnosis can help a therapist or psychologist to connect with the patient, to implant suggestions which can help patients avoid drug use and abuse, and to learn more about underlying problems, but it’s not a cure.

  Instead, hypnosis is one in a range of tools that could be useful in treating drug addiction. It’s a complement to traditional treatment, not a replacement for it.

For example, if someone is given a suggestion while under hypnosis, they still have to follow through with it and do it. Most hypnotherapists suggest that hypnosis will only work for those who are open to change and ready to implement it but only need an additional suggestion to keep moving.

Because substance abuse including drug abuse is primarily a behavioral problem rather than purely a physical addiction, complementary treatment solutions hypnotherapy can be valuable supplements to traditional behavioral therapy.

In one study, ten heroin addicts were treated using hypnosis, with 90% of patients completing treatment and 78% remaining clean after 2 years.

While the extremely small size of the study is notable, it does suggest that hypnosis may be a valuable complementary therapy to traditional therapy.

Most hypnotherapists use hypnosis with the intent of:

  • Alleviating the severity of withdrawal symptoms through suggestion
  • Creating suggestions of repulsion or aversion to undesirable behaviors such as drug use
  • Developing deeper and meaningful conversations with patients without the impingement of the conscious mind

Should Hypnosis Be Used as Part of Drug Addiction Treatment?

While it’s understood that hypnosis isn’t a permanent cure for drug addiction, and even suggestions don’t last in the brain, it isn’t worthless as an addiction treatment tool.

Suggestions made under hypnosis can temporarily convince the hypnotized patient of ideas or concepts, such as that needles are terrifying, their drug of choice is repulsive, they will feel nauseous when they use, and so on.

These suggestions in the unconscious mind can manifest in real and very physical reactions to substances and substance use, possibly preventing short-term relapse or drug use during outpatient care.

However, there are numerous problems with using hypnosis as a treatment therapy, the most concerning of which is that there are no set standards for what it means to be in a hypnotic trance, no defining medical body creating guidelines for safety and privacy, and only a 6-8 week training available for most practitioners.

These standards are far different from the strict and lengthy training undertaken to learn hypnotherapy. This is in stark contrast to behavioral therapists and psychologists, who devote years to learning about the human mind and how it works in combination with the body.

While some psychologists and behavioral therapists also practice hypnosis, most do not and most will have very limited training on what hypnosis is and how it works.

So, while hypnotic suggestion could be useful in helping individuals to steer clear of drugs or substances temporarily and could be useful in behavioral therapy by helping individuals to get to the root of their underlying problems and could potentially be used to complement existing therapy solutions, it isn’t necessarily recommended as part of addiction treatment and certainly not as a replacement for full addiction therapy.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug addiction, hypnosis may seem an easy way to fight cravings and get your life back.

However, there is no replacement for traditional addiction treatment with behavioral therapy, addiction treatment with hypnosis will still be a long uphill battle, and you can typically get treatment with withdrawal symptom reduction through medically supported detox rather than through hypnosis, but with the benefit of a controlled medical environment. Seeking out traditional treatment, attending detox, and going to counseling, therapy, and group therapy is the best and most proven way to treat addiction. In addition, the largest barrier to recovery for most people suffering from drug addiction is that as many as 80% don’t receive evidence-based care (behavioral therapy, counseling) but rather seek out quick and short-term fixes. Any true recovery will involve months and even years of ongoing therapy and support and it will be an uphill battle.

While getting help and going into detox is the first step, hypnosis isn’t a proven or valued way to recover on its own unless you support it with ongoing evidence-based care.

Going to an evidence-based recovery center, with either outpatient or inpatient care, receiving medically supported detox when necessary, and then following an evidence-based program complete with group therapy and counseling from qualified (licensed and highly educated) staff is a much better long-term solution to drug addiction.

If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and you have questions about hypnosis or other aspects of treatment, we can help. For more information please contact us today and we can talk about treatment options that will fit your needs. The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Southern California.


Can Hypnosis Help You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

The Benefits of Using Hypnotherapy in Addiction Treatment

Many people think of hypnosis as a stage trick. They imagine a magician waving his hands and snapping their fingers. Then the subject clucks a chicken or does a funny dance.

However, it is a simple and powerful tool used in many fields of scientific study. Essentially, hypnosis is a method to put someone in a relaxed state.

It can help improve your focus and turn your attention internally. Many compare it to a meditative or trance- state.

Hypnotherapy is an alternative treatment that combines hypnosis with psychotherapy. A hypnotherapist uses hypnosis to achieve a medical benefit for the patient.

Hypnotherapy works by relaxing the conscious mind. This allows the subconscious mind to become more focused.

The patient’s consciousness is more exposed in a hypnotized state. Therefore the lihood of them gaining psychological insight into their thought processes increases.

While the patient is under hypnosis, the hypnotherapist will introduce positive suggestions to the patient's subconsious. These help the patient make a positive change in their life.  

Some studies show that hypnotherapy can help patients to curb bad habits and influence positive behavioral change. Hypnosis has been proven effective in smoking cessation.

One study of smokers that were hospitalized found that 36% of people who received hypnosis were still nonsmokers after 26 weeks. Only 18% of those who received standard NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) were still nonsmokers.

Hypnotherapy is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation: results of a randomized controlled trial

Because of its success in treating tobacco addiction, many believe hypnotherapy can be an effective treatment for other addictions. Alcohol use and other substance use disorders are no exception.

Hypnotherapy is also used to treat other medical conditions, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Pre-surgery anxiety
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Hot flashes in breast cancer survivors
  • Headaches
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain 

Despite hypnotherapy’s success with smoking cessation, there is limited evidence of its efficacy in treating other medical conditions. More research is needed to understand the full effects and potential.

Can You Get Hypnosis to Stop Drinking?

Hypnosis is used to treat alcohol dependency, addiction, or abuse. Hypnotherapists help patients curb binge drinking, address problem drinking, or quit drinking altogether.

When used to stop drinking, hypnosis should only be performed by qualified healthcare professionals. This includes psychologists, physicians, nurses, or therapists licensed for this technique.

Patients who wish to address their alcohol consumption through hypnotherapy should speak with an addiction specialist. They may determine whether a patient is a good candidate for hypnotherapy and provide a referral to a licensed hypnotherapist.

Rehabilitation Services To Help You Overcome Your Alcohol Use Disorder. Alcohol Rehab Help Has Specialized Drug And Alcohol Rehab Facilities Across The U.S.

Call now (855) 772-9047

How Does Hypnosis for Alcoholism Work?

During a hypnosis session, you will discuss your problems and goals with your hypnotherapist. Then they will explain the entire process to you and make sure you are calm and comfortable.

When you're ready, your therapist may ask you to close your eyes or focus on a visual stimulant (such as a candle flame). They will guide you into a state of relaxation. This is often called a hypnotic trance or a hypnotic state.

While in this state, they may ask you to visualize certain situations. Perhaps a time you chose to abstain from alcohol.

They will give you suggestions to encourage positive changes in your behavior or relieve symptoms. For example, a hypnotherapist may suggest that the patient no longer finds drinking alcohol pleasurable or necessary.

Once you are finished with these exercises, your therapist will slowly guide you the hypnotic state.

The goal of hypnosis for alcoholism is for the patient to integrate the positive behavior suggestions into their unconscious mind. This should help them to change their drinking habits or no longer drink.

Pros and Cons of Hypnosis for Alcoholism

Hypnosis for alcoholism offers the following potential benefits:

  • Relief of anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Increased relaxation
  • Improved immune system function
  • Successful treatment of addiction

Although rare, there is a chance that some patients may develop adverse short-term reactions to hypnosis. The potential negative consequences of hypnotism include:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety or distress
  • The creation of ‘false’ memories
  • Unsuccessful treatment of addiction

Hypnosis is not safe for a person with psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. For patients with psychological disorders, the more serious consequences of hypnosis include:

  • Prolonged mental illness
  • Seizure
  • Stupor
  • Spontaneous dissociative episodes
  • The resurrection of memories of previous trauma

You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.

Call now (855) 772-9047

Is Hypnosis for Alcohol Abuse Effective?

While some patients have had success with hypnosis for alcoholism, hypnosis has not been studied thoroughly in a clinical setting. Therefore it cannot be considered proven to be an effective treatment for alcoholism.

However, limited research has shown hypnosis to be about as effective as motivational interviewing — one of the most popular and effective treatment methods.

A recent study was carried out at an inpatient facility center in Norway. Half of the participants received motivational interviewing. The other half received hypnotherapy. These were only small features of a broad recovery program.

This small randomized trial found that the patients who received hypnotherapy reported slightly less emotional distress. In addition, nine of them reported complete abstinence. Only seven reported complete abstinence in the control group.

This study had limitations including the small sample size and the fact that the two therapies were part of a larger treatment program. However, it suggests that hypnotherapy can be effective in treating alcohol use disorders.

Can Your Body Heal if You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

Alcohol causes a wide range of negative impacts on the body. Drinking in excess can increase cancer, diabetes, and liver disease risk, among other severe conditions.

Drinking alcohol causes several other unpleasant effects, such as:

  • Depression
  • Sugar cravings
  • Excess calories
  • Liver fat
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Dry skin
  • Foggy concentration.

Living alcohol-free offers many health benefits.

Alcohol lowers the body’s immune system. When you stop drinking alcohol, your body will be able to heal from illness much more quickly.

Research has also found that hypnosis can even alter a person’s immune function in ways that offset stress and reduce susceptibility to viral infections.

Alternative Treatment Options for Alcoholism

In the previously mentioned study, patients receiving hypnotherapy as an alcohol addiction treatment used alcohol less and experienced less mental distress than those undergoing motivational interviewing.

In another study, alcohol users who used self-hypnosis audio tapes reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity and the least anger and impulsivity compared to others.

These results suggest that hypnosis can be a useful additional treatment in helping individuals with chronic substance abuse with their self-esteem, serenity, anger, and impulsivity.

Studies show that other alternative treatment options can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression in patients with alcoholism. Many alternative therapy treatments offer overall positive wellness benefits.

Other alternative therapy options include:

  • Sequential muscle relaxation
  • Visualization
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Acupuncture
  • Music therapy

The best treatment plans take a comprehensive approach to care. Before seeking hypnotherapy for alcoholism, patients should consult with a licensed healthcare professional to determine if it is beneficial.

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