When a person wants to be free of an addiction but is in a continuing cycle of try and fail, it is because there is a conflict between the conscious and unconscious mind. To be successfully free from addiction, there must be coherence. In other words, your thoughts and your feelings are in total agreement thereby creating will.
The way to achieve this inner state of coherence is to be fully and whole-heartedly committed to the intention to change. Some people can achieve this themselves but lots of people benefit from getting help. Hypnotherapy and EFT have a very good track record in working with addictions because, in the hands of the right therapist, the unconscious mind can be re-informed about healthy behaviour.*
If you would like to know more about this, send me an email – or continue reading below.
The following article about addiction refers mostly to what I would describe as the day to day functional/semi-functional addiction, rather than the chronic, dysfunctional, life-threatening addiction. Although there would broadly be a lot of cross-over, it would be naive to assert that information and advice below would be helpful to a user whose life is in danger.
A day-to-day user is usually functioning well enough, holds down a job, pays the bills, raises a family etc. but he/she is aware that there is one or more behaviour that is having a negative effect on them, their life, their health, their relationships, and they realise that they are unable to stop.
The ‘Nature’ of Addiction
It may surprise you to know that human beings are designed to be able to addict. If we did not have this ability, our species would never have evolved in the way that it has.
It is part of our genetic make-up that we have a need for stimulation and a need for satisfaction, (amongst other things – see MEETING YOUR BASIC NEEDS page). In evolutionary terms, the need for stimulation is responsible for innovation and progress; satisfaction is the feeling of reward that we get when we achieve. Both of these feelings are pleasurable and the body likes to feel them.
All of the feelings that you experience are the result of momentary chemical alterations in your body. Feelings are natures emotional guidance system. The way you feel let’s you know if you are thriving or not. When your body’s chemical feedback system makes you feel good, you know that all is well. When things are not so good, you will experience an emotion which is uncomfortable. Uncomfortable feelings are designed to inspire you to make changes.
A feeling of boredom might make you seek stimulation.
A feeling of loneliness might make you seek company.
Every uncomfortable feeling is a call to action from your emotional guidance system. The healthy way to change feelings of discomfort is to take an appropriate action, however people who have become addicted to a ‘state-changing’ substance (alcohol, drugs etc.) have found an action short-cut which usually has the added bonus of an intensity in the feelings of satisfaction, pleasure or relief.
The human body is designed to addict to feeling good, because good feelings are a sign that we are thriving. The feelings of stimulation and satisfaction are the result of chemicals that are released in the brain.
A thought that brings an expectation of stimulation or satisfaction, is laced with dopamine, a buzzy, feel-good chemical. The feelings of satisfaction are laced with endorphins, pure pleasure. The human organism enjoys these chemicals so much, that it wants to experience them again and again, therefore a person continues to seek stimulation and satisfaction within their life experience. In a well balanced life, where basic needs are being met, this chemical reward system is experienced in a variety of ways. This system is creative, innovative, progressive and satisfying, and contributes to a sense of well being.
What has this to do with substance addiction?
Whatever it is that you have problems with now, whether it is alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex… whatever it is, it did not start out as an addiction. Your first encounter with any of the above is likely to have felt interesting or exciting, because you had never done it before. Or perhaps it placated a discomfort by helping you to fit in with your peer group. In any case, you would never have repeated the behaviour a second time if your brain chemicals had not unconsciously registered the pleasurable chemical feedback loop. (Some people try cigarettes and never have another because the chemical feedback was wrong).
So, you smoked your first joint and you felt good, or your first beer made you feel great. Your brain registered the ‘dopamine/endorphin’ loop and stored it in its memory. This gets reinforced each time the behaviour is repeated.
From Behaviour to Addiction
Whatever your opinion about the use of drugs or alcohol, a substance is only an addiction when the person is not in control of the behaviour. In other words, they would like to make the choice to do it less, or not at all but when the chips are down, the behaviour takes over. The conscious mind says “I want to be free of this” and as long as the person is feeling good, this holds.
There are two main initiators of the addictive behaviour. Triggers and feelings of discomfort.
A trigger reminds the unconscious mind of the behaviour (“a glass of wine makes me want to smoke”), this thought releases the expectation chemical, dopamine.
An emotional feeling of discomfort seeks an action that will change the feeling (“I am upset, a joint will calm me down).
When either of these come into play, the conscious desire looses it’s potency because the very thought of ‘doing the behaviour’ has created a dopamine expectation response. In essence, what this means is that the thought of doing, feels more pleasing than the thought of not doing, therefore you probably experience a sensation of doing battle with your own will. The unconscious mind is going to opt for the quickest route to feeling good, therefore it wants to default to the addictive behaviour. It tells you “don’t worry, try again tomorrow.”
Using HYPNOSIS and EFT, it is possible to change your chemical feedback loop, so that your brain releases dopamine at the thought of being free from addiction, and endorphins at the experience of being free.* When you experience this, there will no longer be the need to do battle with your will.
EFT helps to break down the old (brain-chemical) response.* Hypnotherapy establishes a new response by letting the brain believe that it has already succeeded AND experienced the pleasure of being free.* The more this is repeated, the more your brain chemistry will respond positively to the thought of being a non-smoker, or alcohol free.*
Freedom from addiction with this treatment is rarely a one-off session, with the exception of smoking. During an initial assessment, we will discuss your unique situation and discuss a plan of action. As a solution orientated therapist, my aim is to help you achieve your goal as quickly as possible.
If you would like to explore how HYPNOTHERAPY, EFT & PSYCHOTHERAPY can release you from addiction, please email me via the contact form on this website or telephone – 01273 500136