Hypnosis for Drug Addiction | Can It Help Stop Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is one of the hardest things to stop, so it is understandable if you’re now looking at hypnosis for drug addiction treatment.

Drug addiction is a chronic condition, which means it simply cannot be cured overnight. Aside from flushing out bad drugs physically (lasting a few weeks to around 3 months), the addictive behaviors and habits of an addict must also be addressed.

Most patients use hypnotherapy as behavioral therapy to address the emotional and psychological side of this disease. Hypnosis is often included as part of a bigger, longer-term treatment plan that includes rehabilitation, counseling, and sometimes, prescription drugs.

So how effective is it? This post has everything you need to learn about hypnosis as an addiction treatment.

Can Hypnosis Get Rid of Addiction?

You cannot get rid of drug and alcohol addiction simply by mere hypnosis. However, hypnotherapy can be a beneficial part of your substance use treatment, be it hard drugs or addiction to overeating.

For those who received medical advice to try hypnotherapy, you must first understand what to expect (and what not to expect) about these kinds of therapies.

Misconceptions of Hypnosis

  • Hypnosis is not magic.
  • This treatment plan doesn’t cure addiction overnight. It also cannot be a standalone treatment (it would only work if you’ve gone to rehab, stopped using drugs, began counseling, and so on).
  • People cannot be hypnotized to do something they don’t want to do, so you have to be voluntarily seeking hypnosis for these sessions to work.
  • If you are trying to find out the root of your addiction by recalling past life events that you’ve forgotten, hypnosis cannot “unlock” quickly as if you’re opening a computer document.

Reality of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a process wherein a hypnotherapist assists you through a relaxed state. Once you’ve reached a  hypnotic trance, your subconscious is more open to suggestions and you’ll be able to rewire your way of thinking.

Here are some things you should expect if using hypnosis for substance use:

  • You do not get unconscious, asleep, or stuck in hypnosis. Contrary to popular belief, a therapist cannot make you unconscious during trance. You are still awake during a session.
  • You still have control over your body and mind. Leave a hypnotic state whenever you want to.
  • Your memories cannot be removed by hypnosis.
  • Hypnosis can’t force you to abandon or act against your moral code or beliefs.

Benefits of Using Hypnosis in Addiction Treatment

Hypnotherapy as one of your addiction treatment options is a good thing for three major reasons:

  • There are very minimal and few side effects to hypnosis. There are no adverse reactions since no medication is needed.
  • Hypnosis is a comprehensive program that pinpoints behavior or emotion associated with your substance use. It goes deeper than just the physical aspects of addiction.
  • Self-hypnosis is possible and totally FREE. You could incorporate it into your daily life for relaxation, fighting off anxieties, or other recovery issues you might be struggling with.

Other benefits of hypnotherapy include:

Pain Management

Some people begin their drug addiction not on street drugs, but by taking doctor-prescribed opioids for chronic pain. Once these patients stop taking opioids, they go back to feeling the pain. And because the pain can be unbearable or they’ve become addicted to the medication, it becomes impossible for them to quit (even if the doctor only prescribed its use for a specific time).

In some cases, the patients are unable to get opioids prescriptions legitimately, so they go to either heroin or opium (both of which affect the brain’s pain receptors the same way as pain meds do). Unfortunately, both are also as addictive.

Hypnosis can help stop the cycle of going back to pain meds. Because hypnosis could help you manage pain, living without any substance suddenly becomes a long-term possibility.

Behavioral Changes

Triggers fuel drug-related disorders. As such, proactively changing these behaviors can improve the overall mental health of a person.

Hypnotherapy has been used in helping people stick to their chosen programs.  It can also lessen withdrawal symptoms, which can be mentally and physically intense to a person only at the beginning of his/her journey to recovery.

Alternative To Traditional Treatment Options

Understand that a person’s recovery journey may vary from the person to his left and right. If you tried the 12-step programs and find it hard to heal within a group setting, hypnotherapy could be a substitute for professional treatment.

Reframe the Mind for Long-term Recovery

A person who is struggling to keep clean may find it hard to motivate himself/herself. A trained professional hypnotherapist can increase the motivation of a person working on his/her sobriety by planting positive thoughts and helpful suggestions into the person’s subconscious.

Examples of suggestions include:

  • “I love that I am in control of my recovery.”
  • “My mental health has never been better.”
  • “I can feel my mind clearing up.”
  • “I can control my cravings.”
  • “This treatment will be the beginning of my second chance at life.”

and so on. 

a man deeply focused

Increasing Motivation for Sobriety

Many feel that a hypnotic state is a tool that helps to open the mind through suggestion. Hypnotherapy can be used to help “plant” thoughts into the subconscious such as the desire to avoid using substances or alcohol to overcome addiction, and feeling strong enough to overcome the challenges that life can throw at a person.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Detoxing can be very difficult for any regular person. Plus if you’re continuously craving for your drug of choice while in recovery, these could all be very stressful.

A hypnotherapist could help you manage your stress and anxiety so that your chances of relapsing reduces significantly.

Hypnotherapy also helps a person go into the deeper stages of sleep. If you’ve been in addiction recovery for a while now, you are aware of the importance of good quality sleep in beating addictive impulses.

What Methods Are Used in Hypnotherapy Treatment?

Various articles and studies have shown that hypnotic behavioral treatment is effective in addressing substance use. A medical professional can combine one or more of the following methods:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: a patient pinpoints and avoids situations that trigger drug use
  • Motivational incentives or positive reinforcement: when a therapist makes positive suggestions to improve overall mental health, it also encourages the patient to abstain from drugs.

Most of these treatment methods are outpatient and performed one-on-one. In a rehab setting, these kinds of treatment may be done as part of group counseling.

A group of people on a therapy session

Does Hypnosis Therapy Really Work for All Kinds of Drug Addiction?

There are some limitations to hypnosis as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. For example:

  • Not everyone is susceptible to suggestions. Some can focus more and reach a hypnotic state much easier, while others have a hard time. A small percentage of people (about 10% of the population) can be hypnotized and become susceptible to positive suggestions.
  • Like counseling or another substitute for professional recovery programs, a person will not experience behavior changes with just one hypnotherapy session. To improve the effects of drug addictions, a hypnotherapist may require a more comprehensive process depending on how long a person struggled with substance abuse.
  • Drug addicts who have other medical conditions and mental health disorders may not be ideal subjects for hypnosis.

Technically speaking, a trained therapist can incorporate a hypnotherapy session into a person’s substance abuse treatment regardless of the type of drugs they abused in the past.

Many addicts find it hard to think about treatment and recovery. If you are reading this right now, desperate to ease withdrawal symptoms and looking for a drug addiction treatment to fit your needs, find a hypnotherapist who can assist you through this challenging experience.