Research into hypnosis as a treatment tool for addiction has shown that this alternative practice can help some people. Results are mixed, though, and it seems that the strategy is best used as a tool within a more traditional and comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. If you’re interested in trying it, work with the professionals in your treatment program to find an experienced hypnotherapist.
What Is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis, sometimes called hypnotherapy, is conducted by a special therapist who will put you into a trance-like state of mind. The therapist will use verbal cues and repetition and may ask you to use some mental imagery to achieve this state, in which your concentration and focus are heightened. Once in that state, you will feel intensely relaxed, and the idea is that you will be open to suggestions, such as to stop using drugs or drinking. Hypnosis is most commonly used to treat food addiction and smoking, but it can be used for a wide variety of mental health issues, any type of addiction and even physical pain. With a trained practitioner of hypnotherapy, the practice is considered to be safe and low-risk.
Hypnosis and Addiction
Research into how hypnosis can help with addiction is limited, but not non-existent. The medical establishment is not always open to alternative practices like hypnosis, but this practice has been around for a long time and has been tested in cases of addiction treatment. In one extraordinary case study, a female cocaine addict was able to curb and completely stop a six-month-long drug habit just by using hypnosis. She took the initiative to use hypnosis tapes designed for weight loss and transferred the practices to her own cocaine addiction. The researchers recorded her story and the remarkable way in which she was able to treat herself with hypnosis. This strategy is not recommended, and wouldn’t work for most people, but does highlight the promise of hypnosis. Another more traditional study used 70 participants, all of whom were heroin addicts on methadone maintenance therapy. They were split into two groups and half received experimental hypnotherapy, while both groups also got traditional psychotherapy. At a six-month follow up, the results were clear. The members of the hypnosis group were doing much better on all measures, including methadone dose levels needed, the amount of discomfort and the use of illicit drugs. Ninety-four percent of the experimental participants were free of narcotic drugs after six months. Other studies have shown that hypnotherapy for alcohol and addiction treatment can help with staying sober, but the clearest results demonstrate that it is just one tool that can be used in effective treatment. The case of the lone addict treating herself with hypnosis is extremely rare and unlikely, but it does show how powerful hypnosis can be. Most research indicates that the best use of hypnosis is with a trained professional and as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes control of withdrawal symptoms, psychotherapy and addiction counseling. The evidence points to hypnosis as a promising tool for addiction treatment. If you’re interested in trying it out, you should work with your addiction professionals. You may benefit from this unique, alternative therapy.