Does Hypnosis Work To Stop Drinking?

Sometime in the 20th century, hypnosis was approved as a treatment for alcoholism by both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This, however, fell out of favor, and research is still being conducted on this topic.  

Hypnosis was first used for treatment in the 18th century by Franz Mesmer, a German physician who believed that hypnosis had occultic backing. He was discredited not long after, but his method, mesmerism, continued to raise curiosity among other physicians who soon started practicing it.

Hypnosis in its true state is not magical, but it causes the practitioner to focus internally and can put a person in an extremely relaxed state, which can be therapeutic, offering several benefits like the alleviation of anxiety and pain. The big question remains; does hypnosis work to stop drinking?

How Does Hypnosis Work?

The principle behind hypnosis is to channel your focus on special issues you struggle with and help you believe in yourself to overcome these issues. In hypnosis, your focus is internal and is not influenced by external conditions. A hypnotized person is more open to trying out suggestions made by the therapist.

Types Of Hypnotherapy

Here are the six main styles of hypnotherapy;

  • Traditional hypnosis: This is the most popular type of hypnosis. Here, the analysis is on suggestions and commands given to you while in a hypnotic state. 
  • Eriksonian hypnosis: This is named after the father of hypnotherapy, Erickson Milton. It uses indirect suggestions in form of metaphors and storytelling. This is recommended for people who have a negative notion about traditional hypnosis. 
  • Cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH): This uses a lot of CBT practices. It makes use of several psychological tools like imagination and conceptualization. 
  • Regression hypnotherapy: In this method, a therapist takes you back to your past to try and trace the reason behind your current problem with hopes of solving them. It is quite intrusive and can only be done as a final resort by a high-class specialist.
  • Solution-focused hypnotherapy: Here, a picture of your future is painted considering your present situation. It helps participants see a better future and set goals to actualize it.
  • Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP): This has some controversies about being an actual form of hypnotherapy, but it shares many similarities with hypnosis. It studies one’s senses and language processing methods to produce a positive change. 

Does It Really Work?

A study was recently conducted to compare hypnotherapy for alcohol use to motivational interviewing; a treatment for substance use disorder. In this study, about 31 participants were shared in half. One-half underwent hypnotherapy, while the other half used motivational interviewing. After a year, this was the report;

  • All participants saw a decrease in alcohol use.
  • The participants in the hypnotherapy group were less emotionally distressed.
  • 9 participants from the hypnotherapy group had experienced total abstinence, as opposed to 7 from the motivational interviewing group had. 

It is safe to say from this report that hypnosis for alcohol does have some positive effects. When combined with other treatment methods that centers like The Dawn (an international rehab abroad) provide, this might be a very effective method for reducing alcoholism.

What To Expect When Using Hypnosis To Cure Alcoholism

Not everyone is a certified hypnotist. There are two national organizations for licensed clinical hypnotists; 

  1. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
  2. Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis

Ensure that your hypnotist is a member of one of both organizations.

Risks Associated With Hypnosis

While alcohol hypnosis is mostly safe, some side effects can be associated with this treatment. Some of these side effects are;

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • False memories
  • Headache
  • Anxiety.

Hypnosis is not magic, and so cannot on its cure alcoholism. However, it can function properly with consistency, determination, and a combination of other therapeutic factors.

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