Drug addiction grows as a serious problem each year. In my home community, the opioid crisis has taken many young lives. As a result of cultural changes, we are seeing more disillusioned young people who do not know how to face the world in which they live. They are more prone to seek escape by experimenting with drugs. For those caught up in substance abuse and addiction, hypnotherapy is effective in guiding them toward recovery and clean living.
The addiction to drugs is first and foremost a chemical addiction. A hypnotherapist will typically not begin sessions with a client until the physical addiction has been addressed and controlled. Confronting aberrant behaviors works most effectively when the client is clear-headed, communicative, and committed to change. Managing the physical condition sets the stage for progress and hypnotherapy.
Studies show that treatment utilizing hypnosis is more effective than talk therapy treatment for substance abuse. Why is this the case? Hypnotherapy allows for the change in the cause of behavior. Behaviors originate in the Middle Mind, which is to say that the driving forces behind behaviors are not conscious thoughts. In fact, most substance abusers avoid thoughts which show the destruction and mayhem from the addiction. Try as they may to change, they continue to act in a way they do not want to act. They know the physical cost, the financial cost, the cost to family, and the destruction of their futures, and yet they still pursue the next fix. This drive, this instinct, this habit, all originate within drug user, but it does not seem to be controlled by the drug user. There exist behaviors and emotions that contribute to beginning the substance abuse in the first place, and there exist behaviors and emotions enabling the continued abuse.
Behavior cannot be changed by education. Behaviors cannot be changed by repetition. Behaviors reside in the Middle Mind and the Middle Mind can be accessed in only one way, through hypnosis. Hypnosis is the gateway to the subconscious. It is in the subconscious, the Middle Mind, where behaviors are locked in. While hypnosis, in and of itself, will not change behavior, it is the tool that allows the therapist to access the programming of the client's behavior. Knowing how and when to use hypnosis, as well as how to employ other tools in conjunction with hypnosis to bring about changes, is the job of the hypnotherapist.
Behaviors are originally created by a combination of factual circumstances wedded to emotional experiences. Many of the behaviors that we have as adults are formed in childhood. As children, behaviors are ill-formed by misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and traumatic events. Once formed, these behaviors become locked in, many times becoming irreversible.
Two types of behaviors affect substance abusers. There are general behaviors that have wide-ranging impact on the individual's entire life. These might be behaviors that generate anxieties, stresses, and other conditions that could set the stage for developing a drug habit. Then when the drug habit begins, the chemical reaction combined with new emotional material form new instinctive behaviors or habits.
Hypnotherapy starts with a meeting of the therapist and the client during which the hypnotherapist gets to know the client, learning something of his or her history, and developing rapport and communication. Identifying the behaviors that need attention is essential. Sometimes there may be a discussion regarding origins of the base behaviors, but hypnotherapy is mostly focused on changing future behavior from the current behavior. Often the events that generated the behaviors in the first place need not be addressed. Certain behaviors do require overcoming root causes, but more often than not, such steps are unnecessary. Once the broad first behaviors that set the stage for drug abuse are identified, the hypnotherapist and the client will establish goals for the therapy plan to change those underlying behaviors.
The second step is to identify habits associated with the actual drug abuse itself. These triggers can lead to the actions that foster the drug use, bringing on actual physical demand for drugs. These are behaviors that are identified with the act of taking a pill, using a hypodermic needle, or inhaling a substance. We are talking about a similar behavior when smokers have to have that cigarette with their first cups of coffee. What triggers lie at the heart of the substance abuser’s activities? The therapist wants to identify those behaviors and develop ways for the client to avoid, overcome, or re-direct those behaviors.
Once a plan is developed, the therapist will utilize hypnosis to access the Middle Mind where the behaviors are locked in. Here, the hypnotherapy process is fascinating. Utilizing information obtained during the initial interview of the session, the therapist will form verbal suggestions to give to the client while he or she is in a state of hypnosis. In time, the client’s very own subconscious will take these words and use them to overwrite the bad programming creating the destructive behaviors, developing new behaviors that simply take the place and control of the prior behaviors.
After the hypnosis session, the client, with practical directions in addition to the suggestions made during hypnosis, will then test his or her progress through real-world living and decision-making. Follow-up sessions will allow the client and hypnotherapist to evaluate progress and continuously improve and strengthen the client’s new behaviors. In time, the new behaviors will become absolutely controlling and permanent. In this way, hypnotherapy proves itself as an effective and efficient method for overcoming drug abuse.