Gaining control of Addiction through Solution Focused Hypnotherapy

If you, or someone you love has, or does, struggle with addiction, you will be familiar with the feeling of a loss of control. The feeling that the addiction is reaching into each and every area of your lives, breaking down communication, spinning emotions of the charts, and causing so much sadness and damage.

As a child growing up with an alchoholic father, I lived in a house where there was absolutely no sense of stability. This rippled into my mums behaviour, who was desperately trying to keep some control in a volatile environment. She became obsessive about the types of food we ate, she herself now i look back probably had an eating disorder. She worked from home so was constantly working, hardly slept, and never let herself relax. My sister became Bulimic, and spent all her time out of the house at dance classes. If she was ever at home, she got bullied by my dad, which used to deeply upset and disturb me as a small child. My poor brother bore the brunt, along with my mum, of the domestic violence which happened due to my dads drinking.

Sadly, my mum passed away at the age of 57, and because my dad was never willing to get help for his addiction, the emotional problems amongst the family worsened. We broke apart, and its just me and my brother that have a relationship. Addiction meant that we never communicated properly, and I now have a much deeper understnading of why.

Addiction is a coping mechanism for a full stress bucket. Along with this we have genetic, cultural, and social factors making it more likely for someone to become an addict. An example of this is that my Dad came from a family of heavy drinkers, and therefore encouraged my brother to drink from a young age, sadly this led to my brother becoming an alchoholic. Im proud to say that he overcame his addiction, and hasn’t had a drink for 15 years,

Because the stress bucket is full, our primitive or fight/flight brain reaches for a coping mechanism, not thinking whether that coping mechanism is healthy, or helpful in the long term. The stress bucket is then added to by the behaviours that surround addiction; lying, loss of emotional control, financial issues, poor performance at work, secretive behaviour, lack of sleep, to name but a few. This causes the stress bucket of the addict, and all those around them, to overflow, meaning that it becomes very difficult to cope.

When someone misuses a substance or behaviour, it becomes an unhealthy crutch, and the brain becomes stressed when you don’t consume that substance or act out that behaviour. Addiction means the sufferer is constantly trying to avoid the pain of withdrawal, and a vicious cycle begins. At this point it can feel like there is no other option than to carry on misusesing that substance or behaviour.

So how can a Solution focused Hypnotherapist help those struggling with addiction?

The main way is by helping ourclients reduce what is in their stress bucket. We do this through talking therapy during our sessions, allowing the client to start to notice helpful and unhelpful behaviours, to acknowledge their strengths, and by getting the happy chemical Serotonin flowing by talking about what has been good since their last session. When serotonin is flowing, the client can operate in the intellectual part of the brain. When we operate here we can be rational, we can problem solve and it gives us strength of mind to move away from unhelpful behaviours. We help the client to find very small steps they can take, or small changes they can make, to gently and manageably help them towards their goal of being free of addiction.

The second way we can support our clients struggling with addiction is to help them to improve their sleep. As soon as sleep improves, the sresss bucket can start to be emptied. Our sleep is our emotional first aid. All of our experiences need to be processed during sleep, specifically during our REM sleep, the last 20 percent of each 90 minute sleep cycle. During this processing our brain moves those experiences out of our fight/flight primitive brain, into that intellectual part of the brain. Once they have been moved here we have perspective on them, and we don’t have emotion tied to that event, Addiction can make it difficult for us to get this vital REM, partly due to the full stress bucket being full, and partly due to the chemical effects of addiction – causing raised levels of Cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones. During our sessions we use trance, to deeply relax the brain, and help it get out of its own way. During trance our brain waves slow down, and we can rest. 30 minutes trance is equivalent to about 4 hours sleep. We also provide our clients with a recording of a trance to listen to each night, between sessions, enabling them to deeply relax outside the sessions.

During the initial consultation we give our clients a working description of the brain, and we recap this in bitesize chunks during our sessions. Knowledge is power, and by educating our clients, it allows them to understand what is happening in their brain, during good, and bad times. One really important piece of information for them to understand is that although addiction can damage the pathways of the brain, we have ‘neuro plasticity’ – our brains can constantly change and grow. Therefore we can learn, and train our brains, with repeated practice, to bipass the damaged parts and build new positive pathways. The addiction is the M1 in the brain, and we help our clients find the B roads.

Addiction can come in so many forms; alchohol, drugs, porn, shopping, exercise, gambling, food, to name but a few,, and the journey of an addict can be extremely lonely. Their primitive brain is always reaching for that 1st high that they got, but it can never be reached. Then, in pursuit of this high, the brain needs more and more of what we are addicted to, in order to get close to hat original feeling. In this pusuit, the addiction becomes all consuming, and it can feel that they are lost forever.

Please reach out if this blog has resonated with you, and you would like support. Remeber, its not just those suffering from the addiction that are deeply affected, all those around them need support too.