Addiction is a disease that affects an addict’s brain, psyche and body. All the effects of addiction intersect when the addict experiences cravings. Cravings can be intensely psychological and, when they’re accompanied by physical symptoms of withdrawal, they are extremely challenging to resist.
It is these cravings that lead so many addicts to relapse. For anyone addicted to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or any other additive behavior, cravings are tough to beat.
Practitioners of hypnosis believe they can help.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis, also called hypnotherapy, creates a deep sense of relaxation in the patient along with shifts in consciousness. While in this state, the patient is suggestible (meaning they are easily influenced). The therapist can give the patient ideas, to which he/she will be more responsive than usual. This does not mean that a therapist can control the mind of the patient or that the patient gives up free will. In fact, through hypnosis, a patient can actually learn how to control himself/herself and their actions more effectively.
Hypnosis and addiction cravings
When a patient is in a state of hypnosis, he/she is relaxed, their blood pressure and heart rate drop and brain waves change. While the conscious part of the mind fades back, the subconscious is fully awake and aware. This focusing of the subconscious mind means that the patient can believe suggestions — such as alcohol is bad, chocolate makes you sick or cigarettes make you physically ill — and can change his or her behaviors when brought back out of the relaxed trance.
Is hypnosis a magic fix?
If hypnotherapy could effectively and efficiently cure all people of addiction and cravings, you would have heard about it by now. We know that there is no one quick fix for addiction, but for many people hypnotherapy is a valuable tool in the battle against addiction.
For example, hypnosis combined with cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to help many people quit smoking, one of the toughest addictions to beat.
Many people have also been successfully treated by hypnotherapists in the quest to lose weight. When combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, hypnosis has helped numerous people to resist the cravings they have for their favorite junk foods and to lose weight.
There are some problems with hypnotherapy, however.
- There is no real consistent definition for what it means to be in a hypnotic state. There is no standard technique for inducing such a state.
- While there are many reputable practitioners of hypnosis, there are those who are not well trained and who may harm their patients.
- Real scientific research into just how hypnosis helps to reduce cravings is also lacking.
Through anecdotal evidence, it seems that hypnotherapy can help people resist cravings. It may not work for everyone, but as long as you seek help from an experienced and reputable hypnotherapist, and combine hypnosis with other addiction treatments, it can’t hurt to try.