Facing up to addiction with solution-focused hypnotherapy
What do you think of when you hear the word “addict”?
Many people think of drug addiction – particularly opiate-based drugs, but countless substances and behaviours are addictive. According to the NHS, two million people in the United Kingdom alone are dealing with an addiction.
The friend who always has a few extra drinks, a seemingly happy colleague secretly sniffing aerosols to get high, individuals dependant on prescription or non-prescription drugs, gambling addicts losing an entire month’s wages, sex addicts risking family and reputation, food addicts damaging their health through self-destructive eating habits – the list is nearly endless.
Addiction occurs just as much to certain kinds of behaviour as it does to drugs, alcohol and other substances. If a 'need', whether it is for a substance or behaviour, is slipping out of our control, then we are at risk of addiction.
How do we know when we are addicted? If we are giving a particular 'need' higher priority than our family and health, or our financial and emotional well-being, then we are displaying addictive behaviour. Secrecy is another warning sign – do we keep this aspect of our life hidden from other people? Why?
Is it because we fear their reaction and disapproval?
In moments of clarity, do we recognise that we are even hiding the truth from ourselves?
We can ask ourselves this question, 'If someone else behaved this way, someone I loved, would I be concerned?' If the answer is yes, then it is time for us to take positive action.
Speaking with your GP is a good starting point; your doctor can give you advice and refer you to local addiction services. However, in addition to taking medical advice, many people make the decision to contact a hypnotherapist for private treatment.
In solution focused hypnotherapy, we take the individual client’s goal as the focal point. At the initial consultation we will discuss your experience of addiction, the substance or behaviour to which you are addicted and your decision to stop. We will take a look at how the mind works in relation to physiological and psychological addiction, why it is we can experience withdrawal symptoms and how we can use positive behaviour to build resilience in the face of cravings, discomfort and psychological distress.
In the follow up sessions of hypnotherapy, we will look at your personal motivation to stop. Why is stopping important for you? Often the initial reason people give when asked why they want to stop isn’t the same as the reason they will discover through therapy – sometimes we say to ourselves, ‘I must stop for my health’, ‘I must stop because it is ruining my finances’ or ‘I am losing my family.’ All of these are indeed good reasons to stop, but our minds are deep pools; our subconscious is not interested in other people’s logical reasons and common sense motivation. Each of us has our own powerful motivation and during hypnotherapy it can come to the surface.
A good starting point for uncovering this motivation is the miracle question, a potent imagination exercise that allows us to visualise a future free of addiction; how will our lives be different, how we and other people would know that we had freed ourselves from the substance or behaviour. We can look at how you see your future life and begin to imagine what steps you might take to make this positive future a reality.
When facing up to an addiction we sometimes have mixed feelings about leaving the substance or behaviour behind; during therapy you can uncover your own personal motivators to help you make the required changes to your life.
As we begin to make those changes, it is important that we believe:
- I can do it.
- I want to do it.
- A better life lies ahead of me.
Hypnosis can help us achieve this level of confidence.
Putting our damaging habit behind us takes more than an intention; we must consider our lives in a holistic way. We can ask ourselves, ‘What parts of my lifestyle are an asset that will help me maintain sobriety or freedom from self-destructive behaviour?’ These aspects of our life can be enhanced and amplified. We might then ask, ‘What parts of my life are an obstacle towards my continuing success?’ These aspects make relapse more likely, and we need to recognise this and begin the process of making positive changes.
As we provide answers to the miracle question, consider our best future life and recognise the steps towards freedom – as we benefit from hypnotic mental focus and positive suggestions – we begin to recognise that no miracle is needed at all. We can be that free person we imagine; we can live the healthy and happy life we want – one step at a time.
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About Jon Creffield
Jon Creffield (HPD, DHP, DSFH) is a CNHC registered Solution Focused Hypnotherapist specialised in using relaxation, guided imagery and metaphor to help clients achieve life-enhancing changes. He is a member of the National Council For Hypnotherapy and the Association For Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. Jon is based in North Somerset near Bristol.