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Does Hypnosis for Drug Addiction Work?

Most people think of hypnosis as this gimmicky trick to help people stop bad habits like smoking. Many are surprised to learn that hypnotherapy is an evidence-based treatment that can help treat a wide range of psychological difficulties. Hypnosis for drug addiction isn’t a magic fix to substance abuse, but it can help some people.

What’s Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the combination of hypnosis with psychotherapy. You need a licensed and trained therapist to conduct this type of treatment. Most of the time, a licensed psychologist would be able to perform this treatment. 

During a hypnotherapy session, the therapist works with the patient to achieve an altered state of consciousness. This occurs under hypnosis, which relaxes the unconscious mind and lets the patient be more open. Simultaneously, the patient under a hypnotic state is more susceptible to changing old habits and feelings, which could be explicitly directed towards addictive behaviors. 

Who Can Perform Hypnotherapy?

Trained hypnotherapists must have a master’s or doctorate in a related field and undergo a six to eight-week training course from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. It is a common method of treatment in the US.

Most people find it surprising to learn that about 15% of the world’s population is highly hypnotizable. On the contrary, about 25% of people cannot be hypnotized by another person. However, in this case, a licensed hypnosis practitioner can teach a person how to practice self-hypnosis and reap the same benefits.

How Hypnosis for Drug Addiction Work?

When someone is under the effects of hypnosis, they’re more passive and compliant with the therapist’s suggestions. People are more open to fantasy, sometimes can access long-forgotten memories, and become more imaginative. Thanks to this, they can adopt a different perspective on their addictive behaviors. Suddenly, what seemed impossible, like quitting an addictive substance, seems achievable and desirable. 

One study found that of all participants that received hypnotherapy, 90% completed treatment. After six months of completing treatment, 100% of them were still clean and sober. After the two-year mark, almost 78% of those in the study remained abstinent. These results position hypnotherapy as a useful tool for addressing long-term drug and alcohol recovery.

While this study was done on a small group, it shows the potential of hypnosis for drug addiction treatment. When incorporated with other evidence-based therapies like CBT, hypnosis can help:

  • Ease withdrawal symptoms: When people go through detox, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable. Hypnosis can help manage these symptoms and reduce cravings during early recovery.
  • Alleviate pain: Addiction recovery can cause both physical and psychological pain that could become a barrier to making progress in recovery. Hypnosis can help people switch their perspective of pain and feel better.
  • Change addictive behaviors: Here’s the real strength of hypnosis. This holistic treatment taps into the unconscious mind and can alter ideas and change unhealthy behaviors linked to addiction. 
  • Boost emotional health: Many recovering addicts also struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders. Hypnotherapy can help boost emotional health to improve your overall wellbeing. 

Is It Effective?

Of course, hypnosis is not a one-time, instant fix for addiction. Though everyone responds differently to hypnosis, some people react positively to hypnotherapy. There are countless myths about the powers of hypnosis that often undermine its effectiveness or safety.

Still, when performed by a trained hypnotherapist, this can be a safe and effective practice. Some even say that self-hypnosis is considered safe as well. 

In 2003 German scientists found that hypnotism was almost twice more effective than therapy alone for psychosomatic illness, test anxiety, and nicotine addiction. The success rate raised from 37 percent to 64 percent in patients that underwent hypnotherapy as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Some studies have shown that hypnotherapy can be useful for addiction treatment. Based on the idea that hypnosis can help people through the power of suggestion to improve their willpower in overcoming addictive urges. However, others argue that since addiction isn’t about will, hypnosis is useless. 

We know that when someone is under a hypnotic trance-like state, their peripheral awareness decreases, which heightens their attention and suggestibility to the point that a therapist can effectively alter the neurophysiological networks capable of rewiring specific patterns and conditioning. Based on this, someone’s feelings and behaviors can be influenced during and after they come out of their hypnotic state. 

Another study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that hypnosis helped alleviate post-surgical pain and fatigue, nausea, and other discomforts.

All of this is not to say that hypnosis or hypnotherapy should be considered the only form of addiction therapy. It’s important to note that hypnosis should be part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program that incorporates other evidence-based therapies.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorders, reach out to us today. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we focus on comprehensive addiction treatment programs tailor-made to address your unique needs. Don’t let addiction take away your life. Treatment is more available than you think.

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