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Can Hypnosis Be Used to Treat Addiction?

For decades, hypnosis has been used to quit smoking, reduce stress, and lose weight. Could it also work for other addictions? It might. Hypnosis is essentially a process of becoming deeply relaxed so that your subconscious mind is more open to suggestion. This can allow you to remember things you might consciously repress, or learn new behaviors you might otherwise reject.

Typically, you would be hypnotized by a therapist trained in hypnosis, as opposed to recordings or relying on a friend who knows something about hypnosis. A therapist can decide how to make the most effective use of hypnosis and avoid practices that might have adverse effects. If you want to try hypnotherapy for addiction, you want to make sure your therapist is trained in both hypnosis and addiction treatment.

There are several ways hypnotherapy can be used to treat addiction. The first is to use it to treat a dual diagnosis. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health issue, it may be fuelling your addiction and it must be addressed. Hypnotherapy can do this in a variety of ways. You might, for example, explore some painful memory and change your relationship to it so that it doesn’t continue to cause you pain. Or you might learn to change faulty beliefs that are making you anxious or depressed. Hypnosis is often used in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for that reason.

Another method is to go directly after the addiction. Maybe you don’t explore your anxiety or depression–if you have them–but rather your hypnotherapist suggests that you find the smell and taste of alcohol disgusting. A broader approach might be to help you imagine the person you want to be, without addiction, so instead of rejecting drugs and alcohol, you instead seek to become the sober person.

Some studies have shown promise in treating addiction with hypnotherapy, and people who have succeeded using hypnotherapy swear by it. So why isn’t it more common? There are several reasons. First, it takes a bit of practice and skill. More standardized therapies, like CBT are relatively easy to learn and reproduce. In fact, recovering addicts can learn many CBT skills from an online course. Hypnotherapy takes more expertise, and therefore treatment is less standardized.

Second, not everyone can be hypnotized. About 25 percent of people just don’t respond well to hypnosis. If you can’t hypnotize someone, you can’t make suggestions. There are probably more who are reluctant to try hypnosis. Hypnosis requires some willingness to be vulnerable, and often addiction comes with a stubborn reluctance to be vulnerable.

Hypnosis is not a magic cure and it won’t work for everyone, but if you are willing to try, it might be an effective part of treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.