Does hypnosis for alcoholism work?
If you’ve landed here, you’re wondering and exploring, either for yourself or for someone you love – does hypnosis for alcoholism work? Could this be part of the solution? In short, yes it can — I have helped many people with this issue, successfully and to their satisfaction. For most that has meant complete abstinence from alcohol. For others that’s meant cutting down. For example, cutting down from several glasses of wine in the evening to just one. Just like all the other issues I work with, your experience with alcohol is unique.
There are many factors involved in answering the question “will it work for me?” and I briefly touch on some of those below. The most important one, though, is your willingness and honest motivation to do the work involved, both in the hypnosis office and outside the office. That is the lynchpin, as of course it is with any other type of approach. If you can honestly say, despite the fact that in the moment you enjoy your experience under the influence, that you are ready to be done with it, to learn how to feel OK without it, then we should talk. Even if you’ve tried other methods, hypnotherapy can help you to succeed regardless of those past experiences.
Hypnosis can be a powerful intervention for drug and alcohol problems if you are open to it and ready to make the needed change. In this line of work we have a saying — the mind that created the problem knows exactly how to create the solution. Of course, that is your SUBCONSCIOUS mind we’re talking about. So success with hypnosis for alcohol use or abuse is similar to any other work done in hypnotherapy in that way. This is not a solution that is dictated to you or presented to you. It’s a solution that is created from you, and that really does make a big difference in creating a successful outcome. Success depends on a number of factors, as you can imagine.
The most important factor, though, is that genuine readiness to put past behaviors behind you and leave them there. As with any other issue addressed with hypnotherapy, the hypnotist doesn’t “do” anything “to” you — it’s a co-creative partnership between the hypnotist and client.
With that genuine motivation and spirit of cooperation in place, though, I have seen many people with issues with alcohol learn to change their patterns, heal the underlying issues that were driving them to use and abuse substances, and heal current relationships — most importantly their relationship with themselves.
Can Hypnosis Work with Alcoholism Successfully?
I find it unfortunate that there hasn’t been a lot of published research in this particular area, the way there has been with smoking cessation, weight loss, pain management and many other issues. Based on my clinical experience I believe there is a lot of potential in hypnosis as an adjunct treatment for alcohol addiction.
The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis from July 2004 refers to a study where 18 clients were followed over 7 years. It showed a success rate of 77 percent for at least 1 year.1 They define success as living without drugs or alcohol. 15 of those clients were classified as alcohol addicts or alcohol abusers, while the rest of them were addictive to other drugs. While this is a small study, it shows great promise and honestly reflects the success rate I’ve seen in my office, and I believe merits further studies on this.
As a comparison, a study conducted by AA in 2014 showed that 27% of the more than 6,000 members who participated in the study were sober for less than a year. In addition, 24% of the participants were sober 1-5 years while 13% were sober 5-10 years. Fourteen percent of the participants were sober 10-20 years, and 22% were sober for 20 or more years.2
Factors Involved in Hypnosis for Alcoholism
How effective hypnotherapy can be for you depends on several factors, such as
– how long you’ve abused alcohol
– the seriousness of the alcoholism
– dependence vs. abuse
– whether you’re open to the work, or if you are, instead, resistant and hard to cooperate with
– the amount of alcohol consumed and frequency
– the underlying reasons for seeking escape or relief through substances
– whether the alcohol is consumed alone or in a social setting/other triggers present in your life
– last, but not least, your level of commitment to have this change
If you really want to quit drinking alcohol, working with hypnotherapy can help you discover:
– why you drink or to put it another way- what is the (subconscious) intended benefit for alcohol use;
– how your creative mind can find other and more healthy ways to deal with these functions or cope with their problems.
The Symptom is (As Always) a Solution
Drinking alcohol could very well be a way to cope with your life and the emotional problems you face in your everyday life, or trauma from the past. However, you cannot just get rid of these feelings by substituting it with something else. If alcohol were really doing the intended job in this case, you wouldn’t need to continue drinking, right? As the lyrics from the Rush song say, “the way out is the way in.” But of course the way in is painful and you’ve been avoiding it through alcohol.
Hypnosis is a GENTLE approach to healing the past. There are numerous techniques that help the conscious and subconscious minds gain rapport and alliance about specific issues or happenings from the past, without re-vivifying (or reliving) the pain and trauma. And while this work can take several sessions, the results are liberating.
The other goal of hypnotherapy is to create new behavioral alternatives. Because every life has some stress, you must have a new method of managing and releasing stress in order to let go of your previous go-to of alcohol. If you use hypnosis without finding alternatives to substitute your previous unhealthy behavior, you will not gain anything but an empty hole in your life. The absence of alcohol must be replaced with the presence of new skills and behaviors to handle the situations in your life that you previously handled by drinking.
The most important question is, how big of an effort are you willing to give to get rid of your alcohol problems? Don’t be tempted to think that hypnosis is a passive and painless shortcut to get rid of your problem. Some people think they can just lay down on a sofa a few times and passively get hypnotized and the cravings for alcohol will disappear. While hypnosis can work more quickly and be gentler than many other types of work, the client cannot be unwilling to change or passive about their outcome. I always remind myself, “I can’t want the outcome for my client more than my client wants it for themselves.” Because it’s not my change – I am not in charge of it. YOU are.
Turn Your Life Around
As you can see, hypnosis for drinking can be very effective for kicking the habit. But in order for the treatment to work, at your core, you have to actually want to quit.
The power of the mind is very strong, so if you go into your hypnotherapy sessions with a closed mind, it probably won’t work for you. You’ve got to want to make the change from within.
Also, hypnosis for addiction isn’t enough all by itself. In order to become a healthier and happier person, you have to make lifestyle changes. These include eating and sleeping better. Plus, possibly seeing an additional therapist to work through your life issues.
When you combine hypnotherapy with major lifestyle changes, this is how to stop binge drinking and become the better version of you.
If you are open to hypnosis and willing to go some extra miles to get rid of your past behaviors and replace them with new and healthier ways of coping and enjoying life, the outcome is good for this kind of work. As a general guide, I usually see people for these issues for between 7 and 10 sessions.