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  • Hypnosis is a relaxed state of mind in which your subconscious is easily influenced. An experienced hypnotherapist can use this state to make suggestions that help you change your conscious behavior.

    Hypnotherapy—also called guided hypnosis—has helped treat both physical and mental disorders. Some believe it can treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) as well.

    Hypnosis For Alcohol Use Disorder

    Hypnosis is often used to treat compulsive behaviors like tobacco smoking and overeating. If you have a compulsive drinking habit (you can’t resist alcohol consumption, even if your conscious mind tells you you should), hypnosis might help you quit drinking.

    Tapping into your subconscious mind through hypnosis can alter the connections in your brain that fuel problem drinking (i.e. binge drinking) and alcohol addiction. 

    Hypnosis may be able to treat alcohol use disorder (as part of a comprehensive inpatient/outpatient treatment program) in several ways. 

    Negative & Positive Associations

    The hypnotherapist can help you form negative associations with drinking alcohol and positive associations with staying sober. 

    They may suggest that you’ll experience physical pain if you drink. If you accept that subconsciously, you should be more resistant to alcohol use in everyday life.

    They could also suggest that something will be resolved if you stop drinking. If you get frequent headaches or suffer from anxiety, hypnosis may help you connect sobriety with relief from these ailments.

    Suggestions

    A hypnotherapist can suggest ways that you could change your behavior. Changes may include altering your lifestyle to avoid alcohol triggers. It could also mean developing healthy coping techniques to combat alcohol cravings.

    Visualization

    The hypnotherapist can help you visualize situations in which you resist alcohol intake. Practicing saying “no” to alcohol, even in fictitious situations, can strengthen your ability to refuse alcohol in real life.

    Visualization may also be called “guided imagery.” You may picture yourself as a person with good mental health living an alcohol-free life. This visualization can increase your self-esteem and help you make that goal a reality.

    Coping Strategies

    Since research shows that hypnosis can heal some mental and physical disorders, it may help with AUD by alleviating problems that cause substance abuse. 

    Anxiety and chronic pain are common causes of alcohol abuse that can lead to addiction. Hypnosis may ease these root issues by promoting coping strategies, making you less likely to depend on alcohol for relief. 

    What To Expect In Hypnotherapy

    The first time you meet with a hypnotherapist will likely be a consultation to ensure you feel comfortable with them and with the process of hypnosis. You should discuss what you want to be done during hypnosis or approve of what the hypnotherapist suggests. 

    Hypnosis will begin in the following session and should be something like this:

    • After you arrive and get comfortable, the hypnotherapist will induce you into a state of deep relaxation. Induction may be done with soothing words and prompts to relax your muscles one at a time.
    • While you’re in the hypnosis state, the hypnotherapist will use association, suggestion, and hypothetical situations to alter your subconscious.
    • When it’s time to regain consciousness, the therapist should slowly explain that you’re coming out of the hypnotic state. They may count to five and talk about sensation returning to your body.
    • Afterward, there should be time for you to discuss the session and ask questions. 

    A typical hypnosis session lasts 50 to 60 minutes, but it can be a couple of hours long, depending on your needs.

    Opposition To Hypnosis For Alcohol Use Disorder

    There is some opposition to using hypnosis for alcohol use disorder. 

    Research Is Limited

    There is no definitive proof that hypnosis is a powerful tool for treating AUD. It’s an alternative treatment, not an evidence-based method like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It may not work for some people, and it may work better for some than others. 

    Hypnosis shouldn’t be a standalone treatment for alcohol abuse. 

    One recent study did find that hypnosis was at least as effective as motivational interviewing when integrated into an alcohol addiction treatment program.

    The Patient Is Vulnerable

    Hypnosis itself is a controversial treatment method because it puts someone in a vulnerable state. For many people, it brings to mind horror movies in which a character takes control of someone’s mind for a sinister purpose. 

    But modern hypnosis for mental and physical disorders is patient-centered. You work with the hypnotherapist to be sure you’re comfortable with the treatment you’ll be receiving before it begins. If you don’t have a say in your treatment, find a different hypnotherapist.

    Finding A Trained Hypnotherapist Can Be Difficult

    Looking for someone qualified to perform hypnosis for AUD can be tricky. There’s a difference between a hypnotist and a hypnotherapist. 

    A hypnotist knows how to practice hypnosis. They may help with mental or physical disorders, but they likely don’t have experience with specific disorders like AUD. 

    A hypnotherapist is a certified and licensed professional that is trained in clinical hypnosis.

    Hypnotherapy Isn’t Psychology Or Medicine

    While there are certifications for hypnotherapy, a hypnotherapist isn’t a medical doctor and doesn’t have to have a psychology doctorate. 

    Does Self-Hypnosis Work For Alcohol Use Disorder?

    Self-hypnosis involves inducing yourself into a relaxed state of mind. You can do this through guided meditation and progressive muscle relaxation.

    Numerous self-hypnosis apps are available today, but they aren’t proven to be effective. 

    Studies show that self-hypnosis is more effective if you’ve worked with a hypnotherapist before because you have a better idea of how it’s properly done. Self-hypnosis can be a useful coping technique to turn to when you’re stressed instead of reaching for the bottle.

    If you’re addicted to alcohol, it can be a challenge to recover on your own. The outside perspective of a hypnotherapist may be invaluable in guiding you toward positive change. 

    Detox programs, support groups, and counseling are also vital to recovery for most people. 

    If you or a loved one are struggling to stop drinking alcohol, contact us to learn about our effective treatment programs for substance use disorder.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on November 11, 2021
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