Hypnotherapy In Addiction Treatment: Does Hypnosis Work For Drug Addiction?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on

Hypnotherapy in addiction treatment works by allowing an individual to listen to positive messages about changes they want to make within their life while in a semi-conscious state. After regaining consciousness, addicted individuals typically do not want to use drugs or alcohol any more.

Hypnotherapy For Addiction Treatment

Hypnotherapy-based treatment is a type of therapy that carefully combines hypnosis and psychotherapy. This combination allows specific messages to be imprinted in the subconscious mind more effectively.

To ensure that it is done properly, the treatment is only allowed to be offered by licensed psychologists who have undergone special training that takes several weeks to complete. This therapy is different from other types of hypnosis-based sessions that are frequently advertised on commercials by unlicensed professionals.

Most people describe hypnotherapy-based treatment sessions as being in a trance-like state wherein they can become more aware of their surroundings and what they feel on a subconscious level. During the process, a psychotherapist will work closely with a patient to help them remember past experiences or improve specific conditions they need help with.

Conditions Hypnotherapy Can Treat

This type of therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of physical and psychological conditions, such as:

  • communication issues
  • insomnia caused by stress
  • low self-esteem and confidence issues
  • nausea caused by pregnancy
  • pain management
  • phobias
  • relationship issues
  • sexual dysfunction caused by anxiety
  • unwanted behaviors

How Hypnotherapy Works

Hypnosis in addiction treatment works by reducing the outside stimuli that would normally make it difficult for someone to be able to get in touch with their subconscious mind. It usually begins with a person sitting or lying down in a comfortable position.

Then, they are guided into a hypnotic state using an imagery-based script that is read aloud by the psychotherapist. Once they are fully relaxed, suggestions regarding the changes they want to make in their life are spoken to them. Finally, they are guided back to a more aware state of mind.

Hypnotherapy In Addiction Treatment

Hypnotherapy in addiction treatment is sometimes offered to patients who are struggling with self-doubt or a lack of willpower that prevents them from successfully making it through the recovery process. It can also be used to help reduce their cravings for illicit substances when other therapies don’t seem to be working.

Several sessions are required for it to be effective, and it doesn’t work for every type of addiction. For example, a person who has developed a severe mental illness or brain damage because of their methamphetamine use might not be able to be induced into a hypnotic state.

How Hypnotherapy-Based Programs Make Patients More Receptive To Treatment

While undergoing hypnotherapy-based treatment, the mind is free and open to suggestions that it would normally be closed off from. Things that usually feel impossible to someone will start to seem achievable. Once a person wakes up from a hypnotic state, their subconscious mind will still remember what it was told.


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The subconscious carries this information with it day and night as the person performs other actions. For this type of therapy to be the most successful, it has to be repeated several times a week for several months in a row. That way, the subconscious mind will hear the same messages over and over, which will allow the information to be deeply imprinted as a new set of memories in the brain.

Accessing Long-Term Memories And Confronting Trauma Through Hypnotherapy-Based Treatment

Sometimes, addicted individuals struggle with substance abuse issues because they have gone through traumatic experiences when they were young. As a means of protecting themselves, their brain blocked out the majority of the memories that were associated with the event.

If they can’t remember the details of the experience, the addicted individual might not realize why they are trying to drown out the emotions they feel with illicit substances.

A psychotherapist might suggest hypnotherapy-based treatment as a means of helping them to remember and confront the trauma so they can break down the emotional barriers that are preventing them from healing.

Benefits Of Hypnotherapy-Based Addiction Treatment

Hypnosis in addiction treatment offers the following benefits:

  • altering behaviors that are contributing to addiction issues
  • improving a person’s overall mental health
  • increasing a person’s belief that they can achieve more than they ever thought was possible
  • reducing chronic pain and emotional discomfort
  • reducing the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and drugs

Using Hypnotherapy As A Relaxation Aid

Some people struggle with anxiety or chronic stress that makes it difficult for them to relax. Unfortunately, this can cause them to develop insomnia, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions that put them at risk for a stroke or heart disease.

Hypnotherapy-based treatment can help by offering them a script they can replay in their mind whenever they are feeling overwhelmed. This type of therapy can also teach a person not to respond with the same emotional and physical intensity to situations that they would normally find stressful.

Hypnosis For Long-Term Behavior Changes

Normally, changing any type of behavior takes time because the body has developed muscle memories that it will continue to follow until it is given a new way of handling a situation. Even then, it may revert back to its old way of doing things because it will seem easier.

Hypnotherapy-based treatment can speed the process up by suggesting to the mind that it no longer wants to act in the same manner. For many people, the results are immediate. After waking up from a hypnotic state, they may find that it feels unnatural to continue the same patterns of behavior they have kept up for so long.

Improving Willpower To Overcome Cravings

Negative self-talk holds people back from accomplishing their goals and dreams. Most of the time, people don’t come up with the words and phrases that pass through their mind on their own. Sometimes, a parent, sibling, or school-yard bully told them repeatedly that they will never amount to anything.

Or bosses, peers, and strangers on the street laughed at them whenever they failed at something. Even though all the insults aren’t true, it becomes harder to believe that achieving any type of success will ever be possible, especially when it comes to fighting drug and alcohol cravings.

Hypnotherapy-based treatment can give a person the inner strength and resolve they need by changing the focus to what they can do instead of what they can’t.

Avoiding Relapse Through Hypnotherapy-Based Treatment

When a person is going to an addiction treatment facility, they are constantly monitored to ensure they don’t start using drugs and alcohol.

Once they leave the facility, this monitoring stops, which can sometimes make it easier for them to relapse, especially if they were forced into a rehab center against their will by a court order or a family member who was trying to help them get sober.

In strengthening a person’s resolve by giving them new messages to play in their mind, they often lose their desire to go back to their old way of life. This can help prevent them from relapsing.

Does Hypnotherapy Cure Addiction?

Hypnotherapy-based treatment is very effective when it is used in correlation with other types of evidence-based therapies. But it is by no means a complete cure for any type of addiction. The way hypnotherapy works is by suggesting specific messages to a person while they are in a relaxed state of mind.

Once they wake up, they still have to make the decision to listen to these messages. Hypnotherapy will also not be the right treatment course for every person. In fact, many studies have shown that there is a high percentage of people who can’t be hypnotized at all.

Find An Addiction Treatment Hypnotherapy-Based Program Today

Statistics have shown that hypnotherapy-based treatment works for addicted individuals at least 77 percent of the time. It is most effective when it is done repeatedly over the course of several months. Because of this, many drug and alcohol treatment centers offer this type of therapy as part of their addiction treatment program.

Those who are interested in learning about hypnotherapy-based programs for addiction treatment and where they can find them are welcome to contact one of our addiction treatment specialists for more information.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on


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