Every year, multitudes of people seek treatment for substance abuse in the U.S. In 2009, over 23.5 million people were in need of treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This glaring statistic included people ages 12 and older. However, less than half of those people received treatment. With certain drug trends on the rise, it is important to have a variety of treatment methods available to ensure that those who receive treatment get comprehensive care.
Treatment may include a combination of methods, including therapy, medication, or counseling. Recovery may be completed in an inpatient program, such as a hospital or rehabilitation center, or in an outpatient program that enables an individual to live at home. One therapeutic method which shows a lot of promise in treating addiction is hypnotherapy.
As explained by the University of Maryland Medical Center, hypnosis is a practice rooted in getting participants into a relaxed state. The word hypnosis comes from the Greek word hypnos, which means to sleep. Hypnotherapy helps participants enter into a calm, “altered state of consciousness” called a trance.
During this trance, an individual may learn to control their own state of awareness. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis does not allow the hypnotist to control a person’s mind. Instead, the hypnotized individual may learn to control their own state of being through conditioned efforts led by the hypnotherapist.
How Does Hypnotherapy Work?
While undergoing hypnosis, the body becomes relaxed. This means that the heart rate slows, the blood pressure decreases, and a person has better, more focused access to their thoughts. Our bodies work in such a way that when an event happens in our lives, our brain stores it as a memory and we learn a trained reaction to that memory. Each time we recall that specific memory, the same initial reaction is repeated, even if it is not a positive one.
Hypnosis allows a person to slow down and recall the part of the memory which triggered the negative reaction. This essentially leads to the person being able to react in a better, more positive way.
There are several facets of hypnosis, listed as follows:
- Reframing—putting the issue in a different light
- Relaxation—becoming immersed in the experience
- Dissociation—releasing negative thoughts
- Response—reacting to the hypnotherapist’s suggestions
- Returning to a normal state of conscious
- Reflection—ruminating on the experience
These steps can be a powerful tool for an individual that is attempting to overcome an addiction.
How Can Hypnotherapy Treat Addiction?
Hypnotherapy works similarly in treating addiction, and may be a valuable part of a comprehensive recovery plan. The hardest part of recovery is often abstaining from substance abuse after completing treatment. Hypnotherapy can train a person to access their thoughts and target those which foster the need for substances.
When a person is overcome by substance abuse, their brain composition changes due to repeated drug use. Many substances work to release reward chemicals in the brain (such as dopamine) at an accelerated rate. Some substances stop these reward feelings from being recycled and instead route them to the central nervous system (CNS). This “high” trains the brain to continually desire this effect.
Hypnotherapy could, as the Hypnotherapy Directory explains, “reinforce positive changes to break the addiction.” Further, hypnotherapy can help a person train themselves to respond in a healthy way in order to change negative behaviors and live a life free from addiction.
Perhaps most importantly, hypnotherapy may be a useful method to aid in the withdrawal process. In an article published by the Journal of the National Medical Association, researchers gave an example of a woman who was treated with hypnosis for her withdrawal. During her treatment, the hypnotherapist suggested that if she went back to abusing substances, she would have an adverse physical reaction. Her treatment was so effective that it worked; after one relapse attempt and a negative physical reaction, the woman did not fall into relapse again. While this may seem like a severe treatment method, the effects of some drugs may be far worse.
Hypnotherapy can also be useful in visually conditioning a person to imagine themselves free from addiction. In this instance, a person may be shown images of substance abuse and of themselves in order to reimagine the effects of substance abuse without actually engaging in it. This may appear as controversial to the desired effects of treatment. However, researchers studying this method found that people who could visually recapture the effects of substance abuse could more effectively overcome withdrawal.
In any treatment instance, one should examine all types of treatment methods before making a decision, as each person has specific health needs and issues. There are many contributing factors to getting treatment, such as facility location, cost, financial support offered, connection to resources, and medications for substance abuse and for any other present conditions or illnesses.
Connections For Hypnotherapy And Other Treatments
With so many people struggling daily with substance abuse, the best way to help is to provide an array of treatments which can address all types of treatment needs. Hypnotherapy can help rearrange a person’s thinking and help them to live a life free from addiction. Perhaps you know someone who is affected by substance abuse and want to help them find sobriety. Contact us today at DrugRehab.org, you will reach a team of professionals ready to listen to your concerns. They will also help map a recovery plan that is right for you or your loved one, and direct you to resources that will help you along the way.
Hypnotherapy Directory—Hypnotherapy For Drug Abuse
Journal Of The National Medical Association—The Use Of Hypnosis In The Treatment Of Drug Addiction
National Institute On Drug Abuse—Treatment Statistics
University of Maryland Medical Center—Hypnotherapy