Breaking free: How hypnotherapy can help overcome addiction

My name’s Juliet, and I think I’m addicted to Facebook. Sometimes I catch myself using social media as a distraction from a task. This is a problem, and sometimes I return to consciousness, realising I’m scrolling and then close the screen. Within seconds, I can lose myself, pick up my phone, and open the same social media app.


Screens have become the most convenient, socially acceptable form of distraction from the present moment. Whether it’s procrastination or dissociation, it can completely remove you from a situation. Additionally, your brain receives a big rush of dopamine when you scroll. Dopamine is a reward chemical. It tells your brain you’re doing a good thing. This easily becomes addictive and out of control. Shopping is similar, and eating, gambling, work, and of course substance abuse.

Although the symptoms of addiction vary depending on what you’re addicted to, when you cannot stop a specific behaviour, despite it having the power to cause you harm, it’s addiction.

The first steps to recovery

There is little research to back hypnosis as a magic tool to change addictive behaviours through suggestion alone. Although some hypnosis stage shows give the impression that a hypnotist can take control of their subject and make them do something whether they want to or not, that isn’t the full story.

Hypnotherapy will help you overcome your addiction, by helping you understand it and finding techniques to use in difficult situations. Your hypnotherapist will only help you if you want to break the addiction. Ideally, you’ll have moved through the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages of recovery. If you already have a therapist, you may work through these stages with them, without realising it. Or you may find yourself moving through the stages indirectly when you have therapy for something else.

When you reach the preparation stage of addiction recovery, you’ll have made some small steps towards recovering. Therapy may be one of those steps, lifestyle changes are also steps towards recovery. Some people at this stage of recovery have abstained or attempted to abstain for a day or two.  

Hypnotherapy for addiction

Therapy for addiction varies in complexity. Just as addiction is different for each person, the source of the addiction, the drug or ‘fix’, the harmful effects of the addiction, and so on. Every person’s journey through addiction recovery is different. However, there are some common themes to therapy for addiction that are relevant for each person regardless of the severity of the addiction.

Why and what?

Your therapist will help you understand why you have the addiction and what it brings. Dr Gabor Maté, renowned addiction expert, believes the source of addiction is not found in genes but in the early childhood environment. He says in interviews.

“But it’s strange to say, not that I recommend it, but it’s possible even to use heroin in a non-addictive way. I don’t personally get it and I would never want to. But the addiction is never in the behaviour itself, it’s in your relationship to the behaviour.”

Your therapist will help you understand your relationship to the behaviour. What pain is it you use addiction to escape from? What temporary relief does your addiction give you? Why do you need to escape? Time with your therapist will help you understand yourself and give you a safe space to talk through these things – when you’re ready. It is important to remember that your therapist will not force you to face the pain until you’re ready.

It's normal for me to work with people for a long time, holding space and maintaining accountability, whilst they take recovery slowly. Sometimes starting with other techniques, such as those suggested below, to maintain recovery, whilst they slowly move towards exploring their deep feelings, thoughts, and emotions.  


Self-care is a priority for recovery. Self-care reaches from the luxury of a spa day to getting out of bed and cleaning your teeth every morning. Your therapist will help you implement self-care into your routine. In addition, your hypnotherapist will help you feel motivated to bring practices such as yoga and meditation into your life. These, in addition to time in nature and body work, such as massage, will all help you feel more comfortable in your body.


Mindfulness will help you sit with your feelings without judgement. Mindfulness is a constant practice. You’ll need to prioritise time to use the techniques daily. Eventually, mindfulness becomes a way of life, and instead of needing to run away or change something, you’ll feel comfortable to sit with your feelings and emotions in a non-judgemental way.

In conclusion

Overall, a hypnotherapist will help you recover from your addiction, but they should manage your expectations and provide support that goes beyond simple hypnotic suggestion. Your course of therapy may last longer than you expect if your preconceived ideas of hypnotherapy align with the use of hypnosis on stage. However, hypnosis is a powerful form of therapy that will equip you with tools for life.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham GU9 & GU10
Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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