Hypnosis is something we’ve all heard about at one point in our lives. We often think of a magician performing on stage in front of hundreds of people. To us, hypnosis often means getting some to fall asleep at the sound of fingers snapping or getting someone to speak in an accent different from their own. This magic trick often makes people extremely susceptible to suggestion which causes these people to perform actions outside of the norm. However, hypnosis is more than just a magic trick, it can be used as a form of therapy and can even help treat people who are actively struggling with addiction. Let’s take a deeper look into what hypnosis is really like and what hypnotherapy can do for a person struggling with addiction.

What Is Hypnosis?

We all have a vague understanding of what hypnosis looks like, but exactly how does it work? For starters, the magic trick hypnosis we often see in performances is highly exaggerated. Hypnosis actually focuses on relaxation techniques that help the unconscious mind come forward. A person does not completely dissociate but do become much more susceptible to suggestions. This kind of effect is similar to the kind of effects we see in meditation and some drugs (ex. hallucinogens). Once a person is in a state of hypnosis, they become much more receptive to suggestions from others (in this case it would be a therapist).

How Does Hypnotherapy Work?

That’s right, hypnosis can actually be used as a form of therapy and it’s called Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy combines hypnosis and traditional behavioral therapy. Basically, hypnosis is used as a short-term solution against trauma or a behavior someone wants to change and then behavioral therapy is used as the long-term solution. Here’s how it works:

  1. A therapist helps a patient get into a dissociative, meditative state through breathing exercises or focus techniques. 
  2. Once under hypnosis, the therapist can start to access thoughts, feelings, emotions, and memories that may be causing a person to perform the negative behavior they are wanting to change.
  3. Hypnosis helps these people open up and feel more comfortable talking about these sorts of traumas which helps the therapist get to the root of why the patient performs the actions that they do. 
  4. When the therapist is able to understand the root of a patient’s issues, they can start to use hypnotherapy techniques to suggest changes to their thoughts and behaviors. 

For people struggling with addiction, a hypnotherapist will use those underlying memories and feelings to better understand why a person abuses drugs or alcohol. When they are able to understand this, they can start to suggest changes to perspectives on substance abuse. What therapists will often do is help the individual develop thoughts of disgust when they think of using substances. This can be done by helping the person realize the effects of their abuse habits on themselves and the people around them. However, is this a full-proof method for treating addiction?

Does Hypnotherapy Work For Addiction Treatment?

Hypnotherapy can certainly help a person in addiction treatment, but it is by no means a pull-proof method for recovery. More often than not, it is used more as a complement to regular addiction recovery treatment. A person who undergoes hypnosis needs to be fully open to changes, but a person going through addiction recovery may not be 100% ready for change. Addiction is a very difficult thing to deal with, the desire to use can last for days, weeks, months, or even years after treatment is finished. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how even if someone is committed to starting a new life in sobriety, their minds may not be 100% in it yet. The full commitment to sobriety comes with time. 

For a person to fully change through hypnotherapy, their mind, body, and soul need to be completely rid of substances and the desire to use them. However, a person can use hypnotherapy as a complementary service to traditional addiction recovery treatment. Hypnotherapy is often used in addiction recovery treatment as a method to cope with withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is the main reason why people relapse back into substance abuse; they can be extremely difficult to deal with. Hypnotherapy can help a person alleviate these symptoms through relaxation and focus techniques. These techniques will help create repulsion and aversion to behaviors like substance abuse. One study actually showed us that hypnotherapy was used to help former addicts successfully recover. In the study, ten heroin addicts were treated with hypnotherapy and 90% of them successfully recovered. 

Ultimately, the decision to use this form of therapy comes down to one question: Are you willing and ready to change? If the answer is yes, then hypnotherapy just might work for you. There isn’t enough evidence to say that hypnotherapy is a full-proof method for addiction recovery treatment, but studies do show some pretty significant and intriguing results. Yes, hypnosis can be used to treat recovering addicts, but it should not be treated as a cure to addiction. The addiction recovery process requires a lot more than just dissociative suggestions. Former addicts need to go through detox, medical supervision, behavioral therapy, individual/group therapy, and so much more in order to successfully recover. Recovery is a very sensitive process and it can take a lot of time to be successful. But, through constant treatment and intentional efforts to change, a person can successfully recover from something as ugly as substance abuse.

For anyone that is looking to go through addiction recovery, we highly suggest you stick with traditional treatments at a rehabilitation center or an outpatient program. People who try to do a DIY approach to addiction recovery often relapse and may even end up even further into their substance abuse habits. If you or a loved one are thinking about going through recovery, call your local rehabilitation center today and get more information. It’s a massive decision to live a sober life so it’s best to do it right!

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.