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Hypnosis is a must for any effective treatment for addiction

Table of Contents

Have you ever observed a gardener?

When a gardener is working with his plants, flowers, and trees, he will do his work freely in a joyful state. He automatically does his job in the form of calmness and like no one else is around him except his garden and nature. But he is still aware of the world and the things around him. The process of hypnosis is like that. Many times, in our day-to-day life we go into a deep state where we are aware of our surroundings but we are doing work in autopilot mode. Such as whenever we are going to make tea in the kitchen we don’t need to measure the quantity of water and milk every time, we do that process in autopilot mode. The autopilot mode is a state of hypnosis where we can do things automatically, without really thinking. Basically, in a free state of mind even if we are doing any activity, our mind is always ready to take suggestions. 

To understand what suggestions are it will be helpful to first know what Hypnosis is.

Hypnosis 

Hypnosis is a state of focused awareness or a trance  (deep hypnotic state) in which we have heightened our focus and concentration toward receptive words, phrases, or language patterns (suggestions) by an external source for our subconscious mind. Different techniques help us go into a deep trance or hypnotic state with the help of Deeping suggestions. Hypnosis is a state of relaxed focus. We enter the state when we are so focused on what we are doing that we forget about our surroundings and even the passage of time. 

Suggestions 

Suggestions are the ways or techniques which help the therapist to take the client into a deep hypnotic state and help the client to change a particular behaviour or habit. When we’re in hypnosis, we can be more open to accepting suggestions from our subconscious mind and less likely to resist them. 

Diagrammatic Illustration

Hypnosis Treatment for addiction

The hypnotic induction is a necessary step to lead the subject to enter a state of increased suggestibility, a state during which his or her critical faculties are reduced and become more positive and acceptable. 

Hypnosis is a type of relaxation that many people use to help them focus. It’s often used to help people lose weight, stop smoking or drinking and even stop eating unhealthy food. Hypnosis is a tool that allows us to dig deep into our subconscious mind and access information, memories, and feelings that are normally inaccessible. It’s used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including addictions. 

Structure of Mind

Whenever we are discussing the structure of the mind, an image of an iceberg always comes up in our mind. An image that represents the structure of our mind. Icebergs in the sea represent our states of mind like in an iceberg- a small part of the ice is always visible which represents the conscious layer of our mind, and the bigger part which is not visible represents the unconscious layer of our mind. 

Conscious and unconscious minds are two important parts of the mind that function differently but work together to help people navigate their daily life.

  1. Conscious Mind: In our conscious mind we store all the logical, analytical things, all our thoughts, and decisions 
  2. Critical Filter: Critical filter plays the role of gatekeeper between the conscious and unconscious mind. A Critical filter is the decision maker, for which information needs to transfer into the unconscious mind, and in which form. 
  3. Unconscious Mind: In our unconscious mind we stored all our past experiences, memories, traumas, and all. 

Here through hypnosis, we focus to change certain unpleasant underlying experiences, negative memories, and trauma into positive experiences. During the process of hypnosis, our conscious mind experiences relaxation by accepting all the suggestions given as a result of which the critical filter is bypassed and the suggestions being given reach the subconscious part of the mind. In this way, the necessary changes take place in the state of Hypnosis.

Effects of hypnosis 

With the process of hypnosis, the client will benefit in many ways such as 

  1. The hypnotic process helps to concentrate on their problems and have faith in their ability to solve them. 
  2. The client is more receptive to ideas for growth and positive changes while under hypnosis. 
  3. The client can close the gap between their conscious and unconscious minds with the aid of hypnosis.

Not only hypnosis can also be used as a treatment for any addiction. It helps people who have trouble with addiction overcome cravings and urges and learn how to focus on positive things when they feel stressed or anxious. You can use hypnosis to help with problems like pain management and weight loss, but it’s also used to treat addiction.

Addiction

Before knowing how Hypnosis Treatment for addiction helps, first, we need to understand what addiction is and how it affects our day-to-day life. 

Addiction is any behavior that we are doing compulsively and we don’t have any control over that behavior, such as cravings, compulsions, inability to stop, and lifestyle dysfunction all pointing to the existence of some type of addiction. A person can be addicted to behaviours just as seriously as one can be addicted to substances such as alcohol or hard drugs. The addictive behaviours that result from both types of addiction can have serious negative consequences

Addiction contains spiritual, mental, social, and biological components and hypnosis is a treatment modality that can address all of these issues. As we all know addiction can be a life-threatening condition, so it is very important to use very effective treatment for addiction, and hypnosis is a very effective technique and is deeply connected with unconscious causes. It is very difficult for a person who is addicted to accept their problem and have some help towards positive changes in their life. 

Addicts frequently exhibit signs of getting habituated, which means they require increasing doses of the drug to experience the same effects they had at first. They can be accessing their drug of choice through riskier means (for example, breaking into pharmacies at night)

Symptoms of Addiction 

 (1) Inability to think clearly; 

(2) Memory problems;

(3) Emotional overreactions or numbness;

 (4) Sleep disturbances; 

(5) Physical coordination problems; and 

(6) Stress sensitivity.

Types of Addiction

Addiction can be either physical or behavioural; below are a few examples of addictions:

How Hypnosis is the most effective treatment for addictions? 

The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association both approved hypnosis as a treatment in the middle of the 20th century, but it fell out of favor. Over the past 20 years, researchers and therapists have been re-discovering its potential. But on the other side, some previous research proved that Hypnosis Treatment for addiction is a very effective technique for the treatment of addictions. In the 19th century, results related to the treatment of alcoholism with the techniques of hypnosis were very effective. During that time hypnosis and alcoholism converged medically and it was there 80% success rates reported with 700 patients (Martensen, 1997)**. It is effective in treating such issues as nicotine addiction, compulsions, substance misuse, and dependencies on substances, as well as behavioral addictions. 

Hypnosis can help with all these problems by helping us get in touch with our deeper selves and let go of negative patterns that keep us stuck in addiction.

Process of effective Hypnosis treatment for addiction: A case study

Ajay, a 35-year-old man, takes an appointment with a hypnotherapist to quit his smoking addiction. In his first session with the therapist, which was an initial consultation session, explained everything about his problem related to his smoking addiction to the therapist. 

Initial session: (In this session client needs to explain his problem clearly to the therapist) 

Client: hello sir, I want to quit my smoking habit as my medical condition is not good, and dr. suggested that I quit smoking but I am not able to quit smoking. I am taking approx 2-3 boxes of cigarettes a day now which affects my health. I am a married man with 2 kids and I lost my job in the lockdown and struggled with the financial crisis. During that time I started feeling anxious and stressed and started shouting at my kids. To overcome my stress and anxiety I started smoking. But I know this is not the solution to any problem and slowly that habit converts into my necessity. My wife and my kids don’t like that behavior of smoking and due to that the relationship between mine and my wife is not going well, we start fighting with each other and start blaming each other for every small situation. 

Therapist: In the initial session after listening to the client’s issues regarding his addiction to smoking, the therapist helps Ajay to define his current situation and the desired outcome. for that therapist asked Ajay to summarize his problem. 

Ajay: I am anxious about my physical health and my family because of my addiction to smoking. 

Therapist: Now therapist request to Ajay convert his problem into the following statement  

I feel……………. about…………………… when……………..

Ajay: I feel anxious about my health when I am smoking 

Therapist: Now make a desired outcome that you want for this current situation in the following format. 

I wish………………..

Ajay: I wish I could quit smoking and maintain my health. 

After knowing the current situation and the desired outcome of the client, the therapist gives psychoeducation to the client about the complete process of the sessions. 

Session 1: 

Therapist: After a week in session one therapist starts the session with the recap of the previous session and asks the client once again about his current situation and desired outcome. 

After the confirmation of the current situation and desired outcome, the therapist asked Ajay about the things he wants in his future after stopping smoking. The therapist wants to imagine the future after achieving the outcome. 

Ajay: Here Ajay thinks about a few points related to his future after quitting smoking. (and the therapist noted down those points for Ajay). After that, the therapist gave the homework which Ajay needs to complete the future writing. 

Session 2: 

The therapist starts the session with a recap and asks Ajay about the last week and his homework. As Ajay already wrote his future so here the therapist starts the work with the when (trigger)-then (new thought) technique and asks him to identify the specific thoughts that came to his mind when he was in the above-mentioned situations or when in the presence of the triggers (smoking).

Once Ajay described his specific thoughts, the therapist restructured the process of thoughts to help him manage his thoughts more conveniently.

homework: make at least 3 new tasks 

Session 3

The therapist starts the session by asking about the last week’s feelings and Ajay is already feeling calm and relaxed. So the therapist does a quick recap of the last session’s activities and checks the homework as Ajay made the list of three new tasks.

Based on Ajay’s when-then statements of triggers and new thoughts and emotions the therapist asked Ajay to mention the new emotion for the same situation in the future. 

Ajay: I would like to feel calmness rather than anxious

Therapist: Ok, now think about 1 situation from the past where you felt most calm in the past, and 3 situations in the future where you would like to feel calm. 

Here the therapist did the Anchoring for the new emotion (calmness). and after the complete process, Ajay already starts feeling calm. 

Session 4: 

After a week Ajay comes to the therapist and tells him he is really feeling calm but still not able to stop smoking. something stopping him from quitting smoking. So, the therapist decided to do the Reframing Technique to find out the positive intention behind the behavior of not quitting smoking. 

During the process of reframing, find out the positive intention behind the particular behavior of smoking and with the help of a list of new ideas developed by the creative team of Ajay’s self, take the commitment to the new behavior. 

After this technique, Ajay feels calmer, and the therapist ends the session. 

Session 5: Last Session

The therapist asked about last week. 

Ajay: I feel very calm and not smoking that many cigarettes in a day. I can control myself and not feel anxious when I am not smoking. 

So, as the client can quit smoking, the therapist ends the therapy process with this last technique, a circle of transformation, and ends the session.  

After the hypnosis had ended, Ajay said that he felt different somehow, and certainly didn’t want a cigarette. 

Conclusion:

Research conducted by the American College of Chest Physicians, in 2007* In which Hospitalized patients who smoke may be more likely to quit smoking through the use of hypnotherapy than patients using other smoking cessation methods. A new study* shows that smoking patients who participated in one hypnotherapy session were more likely to be non-smokers at 6 months compared with patients using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) alone or patients who quit “cold turkey”. The study also shows that patients admitted to the hospital with a cardiac diagnosis are three times more likely to quit smoking at 6 months than patients admitted with a pulmonary diagnosis.

Sources: 

  1. *American College of Chest Physicians (2007). Hypnotherapy For Smoking Cessation Sees Strong Results. https://www.sciencedaily.com/ 
  2. **Martensen, R. L. (1997). Hypnotism’s medical heyday. Journal of the American Medical Association, 277(8), 611.

If you are a therapist or psychologist and would like to learn more about integrating techniques and mastering skills, check out our Internationally accredited, integrated program titled “Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy™”.