Utilizing Hypnosis in the Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders.

An approach described in a paper* published it the American journal of Clinical Hypnosis, describes the use of hypnosis for the treatment of substance abuse disorders, borrowing from studies effectively treating alcoholism by using intensive daily sessions. Combining the more intense treatment of 20 daily sessions with hypnosis is a successful method to treat addictions. The treatment has been used with 18 clients over the last 7 years and has shown a 77 percent success rate for at least a 1-year follow-up.

According to Martensen (1997), in the nineteenth century hypnosis and alcoholism medically converged and the results were very good. There were as high as 80% success rates with samples of up to 700 patients reported. By 1910, because of its growing prevalence as entertainment, ethical professionals were using hypnosis less for treatment of any medical or psychological disorder. By 1920, hypnosis was rarely used in the treatment of alcoholism.
However, hypnosis has begun making a comeback as a viable treatment for alcoholism and other addictions. Wolberg (1948) treated alcoholism by using hypnosis to enhance dream imagery. Lemere (1959), using a conditioned reflex treatment, reported a 57% success rate on a one-year follow up. Success was based on abstinence from alcohol. Feamster and Brown (1963) successfully hypnosis to control excessive drinking.

The study involved 18 participants (16 men and 2 women) were clients who voluntarily sought treatment at a private practice facility. The age range was 18 to 63 years, and the mean age was 37 years. There was one African American client, and the rest were Caucasian. Of the 18 clients, 15 were being seen for alcoholism or alcohol abuse, 2 clients were being seen for cocaine addiction, and 1 client had a marijuana addiction.

The study results were, “Of the 18 clients who started the 20-session program, and most attending aftercare sessions, 12 remained drug- free. Two clients returned to moderate drinking, and appear to be doing well. Two clients relapsed to abusive drinking, and one of those clients was charged with a third driving-under-the-influence citation.”

You can read the entire study here.

* Intensive Therapy – Utilizing Hypnosis in the Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders, Greg Potter American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 47:1, July 2004

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