Our last couple of blog posts have focused on what hypnotherapy is and how it can be used to successfully treat addiction, as well as help addicts cope with stress, depression and anxiety. Today we wanted to take the time to discuss how hypnosis can be used after inpatient or outpatient treatment to manage temptations and stay clean.
The reason why hypnosis is beneficial in staying sober is twofold. First, it can help manage cravings in early recovery. Second, it can treat co-occurring disorders such as depression or PTSD without the use of medication. When you combine both of these factors – managing harmful temptations and treating the underlying condition – one can see how hypnotherapy is an effective tool that can aid in lifelong recovery.
Managing Temptation with Hypnotherapy
When an addict is released from a residential treatment center, all of their old friends and hangouts will still exist. It’s easy to avoid these people and places when living in inpatient treatment, but it becomes more difficult in the months following after. A simple drive past an old hangout, hearing a particular song or seeing an old friend can trigger certain feelings. The addict will then fixate on that trigger, which is experienced through all five senses.
For instance, an addict may start to have sweaty palms. Their heart may race. They may start to salivate. They may even hear their friends’ voices in their head. This is what makes cravings so difficult to get away from, as they become so real when the addict is experiencing them through all five senses. When the addict obsesses over the trigger, it makes them more likely to relapse, and this is what ultimately makes sobriety so difficult, especially in the beginning.
Hypnosis can be used in conjunction with other alternative therapies, skills and tools to help addicts cope with cravings. The therapy is used by asking the client to recall some of the things that trigger drug or alcohol cravings. During hypnosis, the client is relaxed and more open to recovery, so the goal is to remove the ingrained feelings that are attached to certain experiences and replace them with healthier ones.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders with Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is also beneficial for recovering addicts because they can better treat co-occurring disorders. For many clients, when they seek recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction, they are also diagnosed with another condition aside from addiction. Common co-occurring disorders include anxiety, bipolar depression, PTSD, ADHD or schizophrenia.
Co-occurring disorders are perplexing because it’s difficult to say which came first: the addiction or the underlying condition. Did the addict start using drugs because they were depressed? Or did the drug use change pathways in the brain to make them depressed? Not knowing which came first makes treatment harder, too. If the addiction is treated, will the depression go away? Or does the depression need to be treated first?
With hypnosis, the client can receive treatment for both the addiction and the underlying condition. Hypnosis has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, as well as aid in relaxation. Stress is the number one offender when it comes to triggering cravings (aside from being exposed to the drug), so managing stress is critical in the early stages of recovery. Otherwise, when addicts are stressed, they respond to the world reactively and turn to drugs and alcohol.
Hypnosis is effective in managing both stress and emotion, as it slows down thoughts and calms the mind and body. Through hypnosis, addicts learn to better manage their stress and find inner peace so that they know they can accomplish this happiness on their own without the use of drugs or alcohol. This takes time and practice, but when it’s achieved, the feelings are invaluable. The more addicts focus on being reflective, the brain relearns how to deal with stress in a more productive manner.
Combining Hypnotherapy with Other Alternative Treatments
Hypnotherapy is an important tool in recovery, but it is most effective when it’s used with other natural therapies, such as meditation. Using a variety of therapeutic tools, healthy pathways in the brain are formed and wholesome habits are started.
Hypnosis is gaining more credibility in the medical field, and multiple studies have shown the effect it can have on negative habits, behaviors and mindsets. It’s understandable why there is so much potential. Tapping into a part of the brain that isn’t normally comprehended is an excellent way to better understand an addict, change ways of thinking and offer advice without any barriers from the outside world or limited conscious mind.