Dealing with Addictions

When it comes to addictions, the general public normally assumes addicts fall broadly under one of the following categories - drugs, alcohol or gambling. Whilst these three activities can certainly attract addictive personalities or help form them, there are many more pursuits that can become addictive if left unchecked.

Hypnotherapy is a very successful form of therapy that enables people to overcome their addictions and many therapists will have dealt with a variety of addictions from the usual ones to the more obscure addictions.

Addictions are not always automatically formed because of the activity or product itself but have more to do with the individuals’ personality and behaviours. Some personality types will recover from one addiction but immediately replace it with another. We know that a hard drug such as heroin is an addictive substance and can cause the individual to immediately ‘crave’ their next fix and that craving becomes so strong that they are unable to resist the temptation to do it again and again. The more they take it, the more it takes hold and the craving gets so strong they will literally do anything to get their next ‘fix’.  

For hypnosis to work for any issue whether it is for addictions, phobias, weight loss or anything else, the client needs to want to be helped and be congruent with the desired outcome. A determination and a belief that the therapy will work will ensure the best results.

Many people can try a cigarette for example, but don’t like it and never try again. Others may binge on alcohol regularly on a night out without craving it the next day. Some may enjoy the odd gamble on a horse race or play the fruit machine in their local pub without becoming obsessed with it and feel that urge to continue. However, others may quickly get drawn into the initial excitement, especially if they win once or twice or enjoy the feeling it gives them and before long, they find themselves craving the next time.

Some of the physiological signs of any addiction before they succumb to it can include

  • Raised anxiety levels
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Shaking
  • Lack of concentration

Addiction can make the person feel the need to continue taking the drugs or alcohol or carry out the behaviour to deal with the very problem that is serving them no purpose.

This obsession can take over their whole lives, destroying relationships and family units. The addict may become secretive or hide stashes of the substance away and be in denial they have a problem in the first place.

Anorexics are classic examples of people with an addiction to losing weight that are in complete denial. Anorexia causes the most deaths among those diagnosed with a mental health disorder and the most difficult for clinicians to treat as their reluctance to be helped is so strong. Part of them knows they are harming themselves but the anorexic side of their personality prevents them from seeking the help they so desperately need. An addiction is a long-term inability to moderate or cease the behaviour or intake and if not addressed can spiral out of control.

As an addict becomes more and more engrossed in their poison of choice, they will find themselves taking risks to secure their next fix. This could include trading sex or stealing either the substance or money to fund their habit. In desperation, they may become violent even hurting those who try to support them. Often they will take an initial large dose of drugs or alcohol to quickly obtain that feeling of euphoria but next time they may have to take more and more to capture that initial effect.

 Some of the signs someone may have an addiction can include

  • Secrecy
  • Hoarding supplies of an addictive substance
  • Denial and refusal to talk about the issue
  • Stopping other hobbies or activities
  • Sacrificing other activities if it interferes with their usage/activity
  • Increasing lack of good hygiene practice and personal appearance
  • Change in general personality
  • Showing no interest in others

There are many types of addictions that some people are unaware of but they can have the same psychological and physiological effects as the more common ones mentioned above.

‘Adrenalin junkies’ is a term coined to describe people who will do anything dangerous for a thrill. Their antics become more and more outrageous often with death-defying stunts as they try and top the last feeling of euphoria. Broken bones and near death experiences don’t stop them as they continue on their quest to seek the next adrenalin thrill.

A few of the other recognised addictions include; food, sex, stalking another person, mobile phone and social media, gaming, pornography, exercising and shopping. Most of these pursuits are fine in moderation but when they take over the person’s life or it impacts on other people but they are unwilling to address it then it can be classed as an addiction and help should be sought.

A trait of some people on the autism spectrum is repetition or collecting items or general routine. If anything stops this it can cause them great anxiety and uncontrollable rage. Parents/carers should be aware of this and gently guide them away from letting it become an issue in the first place.

Hypnotherapy can be a very effective way to change an addict’s habit. Initially, the therapist and client will discuss the desired outcome and look at the steps required to achieve this. If it’s a drug addiction, for example, the desired outcome to be drug-free may include envisioning spending time with loved ones and having more money and feeling healthier and in control of their life too.

The therapist will guide the client into a relaxed state where the unconscious mind is open to positive suggestions to enable them to reach their chosen goal. By bypassing the critical, conscious mind, the therapist can recalibrate the behaviours to make them more congruent with the client’s wishes enabling him to make more positive lifestyle choices. The therapist can reaffirm these suggestions by teaching the client some simple techniques to use which will reinforce the new, positive behaviours and ensure long-term success.

“Before you try and break out of prison – you must realise you are locked up”