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  • Shiv Pathak

Is hypnotherapy an effective treatment for addictions?

Traditional treatments for addiction include talking therapies and medication, and alternative treatments such as hypnotherapy, can be seen as a cliché or a movie trope that doesn’t have any basis in clinical research. However, the studies conducted into addiction treatment by hypnotherapy prove that it is an effective treatment for addiction. Particularly when paired with other treatment methodologies such as psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, patients’ likelihood of withdrawing or preventing relapse is significantly higher.


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When we think of hypnotherapy, we think of what we see in the movies – where somebody is brought up onto a stage and made to do silly things. We think of it as some sort of mind control. However, this is not the case. Hypnotherapy doesn’t work for everyone; you need to have a certain type of mind for it to be effective. Hypnotherapy is a treatment where a patient is relaxes into a trance-like state, like meditation, where the brain is open to suggestion and is in a state of heightened concentration. This state can then be used to gently encourage certain behaviors. This doesn’t mean that you loose all your own will or ability to make decisions; exactly the opposite. It enhances your decision making abilities by opening your mind up to different options out there, when your brain has got particularly stuck in it’s ways!


There is evidence of hypnotherapy having been used by numerous cultures throughout history, including early mentions of hypnosis in Islamic literature in 1027. The foundations for the modern-day practice were laid by a Scottish surgeon, James Braid, who coined the term “hypnotism” where he focused on the laws of psychology and physiology rather than the “animal magnetism” of his predecessors.


Today hypnotherapy is used to treat mental or psychological disorder. Specifically, it is used to help “increase the motivation or alter behavior patterns”. It is commonly used to treat:

  • Eating disorders

  • Anxiety, Phobias & Panic Disorders

  • Addiction

  • Anger issues


There are a number of different hypnotherapy techniques, including:

  • Traditional hypnotherapy: uses suggestion to reduce symptoms, induce relaxation and reduce behaviors

  • Ericksonian hypnotherapy: a method where a rapport between client and practitioner is established before using an informal conversational style as a suggestive technique

  • Solution-focused hypnotherapy: a combination between Solution-focused brief therapy and Erickson hypnotherapy focusing on the goal that the client wants to achieve, rather than the previously problem-based focused

  • Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy: using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy alongside clinical hypnosis designed to improve outcomes

  • Curative hypnotherapy: a concept that hypnosis is used to bring clients out of a trance

  • Mindful hypnotherapy: a combination of hypnotherapy and mindfulness techniques


Research shows that hypnotherapy has a positive impact on addictions. Whilst using hypnotherapy on it’s own can have some impact, that impact is increased significantly if hypnotheraphy is combined with other treatments such as Cognitive Behavoral Therapy (CBT.


There have been numerous case studies of individuals that have ceased to be addicted to drugs and alcohol through the combined use of hypnotherapy and other treatments. For example, in a study conducted in Iran and published in 2012 on patients with Opium addiction, the authors found that the relapse to drug use after withdrawal in the hypnotherapy group was less (40%) than that of the non-hypnotherapy group (73%). In addition, they found that additional benefits included across the board a reduction in insomnia (88%), restlessness (80%), pain (60%) and autonomic disturbances (33%). Similarily, in a study looking at methadone addiction, the researchers found that “significant differences were found on all measures”. The group that received hypnotherapy had reduced drug use and more withdrawals as well as less discomfort throughout the process.


References:

Elkins, Gary R.; Barabasz, Arreed F.; Council, James R.; Spiegel, David (2015). "Advancing research and practice: the revised APA Division 30 definition of hypnosis". The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 63 (1): 1–9


Haque, Amber (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", Journal of Religion and Health, 43 (4): 357–77 [365]


Elkins, Gary R.; Barabasz, Arreed F.; Council, James R.; Spiegel, David (2015). "Advancing research and practice: the revised APA Division 30 definition of hypnosis". The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 63 (1): 1–9


"Dictionary of Occupational Titles: Hypnotherapist (079.157-010)". U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges. Retrieved 2017-11-15.


Tom Kraft; David Kraft (2005). "Covert sensitization revisited: six case studies". Contemporary Hypnosis. 22 (4): 202–209


M. Erickson (1952), Deep Hypnosis and Its Induction, Experimental Hypnosis, Leslie M. LeCron (ed.), New York, Macmillan: 70-114


Eddolls, T. (2017). "Solution Focused Brief Therapy". Archived from the original on November 16, 2017. Retrieved May 30,2021.


Bryant, Richard A.; Moulds, Michelle L.; Guthrie, Rachel M.; Nixon, Reginald D. V. (2005). "The additive benefit of hypnosis and cognitive–behavioral therapy in treating acute stress disorder"(PDF). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 73 (2): 334–340


Marshall, P. (2012) A Handbook of Hypnotherapy, Bexhill-on-Sea, Oakley Books


Pedersen, Traci (2020). Brief Mindful Hypnotherapy Shown to Ease Stress & Anxiety


Bryant, Richard A.; Moulds, Michelle L.; Guthrie, Rachel M.; Nixon, Reginald D. V. (2005). "The additive benefit of hypnosis and cognitive–behavioral therapy in treating acute stress disorder" (PDF). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 73 (2): 334–340


Golabadi, Majid, MD Taban, Habibollah, MD; Yaghouhi, Mohammad, MSc; Gholamrezaei, Ali, MD (2021), Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Opium Addiction: a pilot study, Integrative Medicine; Mendota Heights Vol. 11, Iss. 3, 19-23.


Golabadi, Majid, MD Taban, Habibollah, MD; Yaghouhi, Mohammad, MSc; Gholamrezaei, Ali, MD (2021), Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Opium Addiction: a pilot study, Integrative Medicine; Mendota Heights Vol. 11, Iss. 3, 19-23.


Aaron J. Manganiello Ed.D. (1984) A Comparative Study of Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Methadone Addicts, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 26:4, 273-279





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