Using hypnosis to stop drinking is a viable option for those who want to better their lives.
Alcoholism is a disease that causes millions of deaths every year. Thousands of people around the world succumb to the effects of alcohol and suffer from alcohol poisoning each day. It’s estimated that more than 15 million people struggle with alcoholism in the US alone. The statistics are worrisome.
People have been considering hypnosis as an alternative treatment option for alcohol use disorders for decades now. Thanks to scientific studies like this one, we now know that hypnosis can encourage addicts to give up drinking and can also prevent relapses.
Let’s see how you can use hypnosis to stop drinking.
Why is alcohol addictive? What makes perfectly normal men and women around the world drink into oblivion?
Alcohol acts as a depressant of the central nervous system, which means that alcohol consumption inhibits the brain’s normal activity. Alcohol manages to slow down your brain by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA (or gamma-aminobutyric acid). In addition, alcohol also interacts with the normal release of endorphins.
GABA is the neurotransmitter in charge of inhibitions in your brain, which makes it nonspecific. When the GABA signals are increased, the neurotransmitter does not target a specific part of your brain, it affects all of it instead. That’s why people who drink excessively experience signs like poor motor coordination (have trouble walking), memory loss, poor communication skills (slurred speech), or even lose consciousness.
But here’s the kicker. Your body is simply incredible at adapting to its environment, and the brain is probably the first to adapt to any scenario. If you drink alcohol often, your brain will adapt to resist the inhibitory effects of GABA by increasing the excitatory effects of neurotransmitters like glutamate.
Glutamate and GABA have opposing effects. Your body relies on glutamate when the brain needs to transmit signals at an increased rate. But in order to resist the inhibitive effects of GABA, your body adapts to produce more glutamate.
As a result, you develop a tolerance for drinking. Alcohol produces the same effects in your body, but you’re more resistant to its inhibitory effects. So, you need to drink more to get to the same state of drunkenness.
Your body adapting to GABA is the beginning of a vicious circle of tolerance – increased drinking – greater tolerance – even more drinking, and so on. This vicious circle eventually leads to dependence and addiction.
And if you thought that was the end of the story, you were wrong. The brain adapts to resist the inhibitive effects of GABA by increasing the effectiveness of glutamate. But once this happens, you will start experiencing withdrawal effects like tremors (usually in the hands), hallucinations, and even convulsions when you stop drinking.
This happens because your brain is now overstimulated. Your brain adapted to transmit more signals to overcome the inhibitive effects of GABA, and it will continue doing so even if you stop drinking for a while.
Once you reached this point, it’s safe to say you’re addicted to alcohol. Quitting will be very difficult, and it might be dangerous to stop drinking on your own.
Alcohol increases the release of endorphins in your body. Endorphins are natural substances produced in your body that act as neurotransmitters, carrying signals from one neuron to another. There are over 20 types of endorphins in your body, and beta-endorphins produce stronger effects than opium or even morphine.
You probably heard of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin by now. Well, these substances are endorphins, and they are involved in many processes, from creating feelings of euphoria and relaxation to helping women during childbirth.
Recent studies show that by influencing the release of endorphins, alcohol actually changes the structure of the human brain. This can be seen especially in those who started consuming alcohol as adolescents.
And you can feel how alcohol leads to the release of endorphins.
Like most diseases, alcoholism has a gradual development. Drinkers who become addicted to alcohol usually pass through the following phases
Hypnosis is a trance state – basically an altered state of consciousness – deliberately induced by an individual. The change in consciousness is not something people imagine or feel, it’s a change that can be observed and measured with the help of EEG and fMRI machines.
Self-hypnosis is a form of hypnosis that involves inducing the hypnotic trance on yourself. Self-hypnosis audio sessions guide you through a step-by-step process to reach a state of altered consciousness.
When you’re in a state of hypnosis, you are less aware of what’s going on around you and more focused on some aspect of your inner experience. This inner experience can involve thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations, or imagination.
One of the great things about the hypnotic trance is that it promotes relaxation. Even though you focus on a specific memory, experience, or feeling, you no longer feel anxious but feel relaxed instead.
The hypnotic trance is characterized by three aspects – absorption, disassociation, and suggestibility.
Absorption can be defined as a deep mental focus. When you are hypnotized, you become deeply absorbed and involved in your experiences, no matter what you perceive, imagine, or think about. You concentrate intently on what’s happening in your mind, much in the same way you would do when watching a good movie or reading a great book.
The images in your mind can sometimes be so vivid, you can’t even tell how much time has passed since you entered the hypnotic trance.
Disassociation is probably the most important aspect of the hypnotic state for alcohol addicts. The dissociative aspect of the trance means you will be able to separate your thoughts from other potential distractions.
This allows you to focus on one thing in particular, and since you are not distracted by feelings, emotions, or memories, you will be able to see your experience from a different perspective.
The benefit of being able to disassociate is that you can see your alcoholism from a different angle. You will be able to understand your problems, identify your triggers, and deal with the emotions that convince you to drink.
When you’re in the hypnotic trance, you’re more open to suggestions than you are in your day-to-day life. Don’t worry, you’re not so open to suggestions as to cluck like a chicken if someone tells you to.
Regardless of what you may have seen in movies or TV shows, you’re completely in charge of your thoughts and actions when you’re under hypnosis. However, the suggestions you hear in the self-hypnosis audio session guide your thoughts towards the roots of your problems.
More, the suggestions offer tips on how to identify your problems and how to deal with them. The hypnotic suggestions can enable you to access long-forgotten memories that might shed some light on your addictive behavior, or get you to think about your addiction in a different way.
It gets better. Since the hypnotic trance promotes relaxation and focus, and you’re open to suggestions, your subconscious might decide that drinking is not good for you after all. In fact, you might exit the trance with the firm belief that quitting drinking – which would normally seem hard or nearly impossible – is not only achievable but even desirable.
Pre-alcoholism, along with early and late alcoholism manifest themselves through the creation of mental barriers. The alcoholic often turns to drink out of habit, not because he or she wants to drink.
In fact, most alcoholics feel guilty just by thinking about booze, let alone drinking it. But at the same times, they feel like they can’t relax, sleep, or be happy without alcohol.
This happens because alcoholics build mental obstacles for themselves over time. They can’t sleep one night – as we all do from time to time – and they believe they can’t sleep because they didn’t drink. They feel tense, and instead of finding what’s making them feel stressed, they drink to relax.
And worst of all, they don’t feel happy because the alcohol has interfered with their brain’s endorphins release, and they drink to feel better.
But you can overcome all these obstacles with the help of hypnosis. When you’re in a hypnotic trance, you can detach from your memories or feelings and focus only on your addiction. This allows you to identify the mental obstacles you built for yourself and plan on overcoming them.
You can overcome every obstacle, no matter how big. It’s only a matter of will, and hypnosis helps a great deal.
Unfortunately, self-hypnosis has a limited effect on chronic alcoholics. Even though the hypnosis audio session helps chronic alcoholics to identify and overcome their mental obstacles, this category of addicts needs help to overcome their physical addiction.
Those who use hypnosis to stop drinking often get in touch with their feelings. They understand they are powerful enough to say “NO” to alcohol, and they feel able to create new long-term behavior patterns that do not involve drinking.
And that’s all it takes for most alcoholics. Once you discover you can live a normal life while abstaining from alcohol, and you realize that your life will gradually become better once you quit drinking, reaching sobriety is only a matter of time.
But even though hypnosis is an effective treatment for alcoholism, it’s not magic. You will still have to put in the effort to quit. Hypnosis enables you to understand and address your problems from a new perspective, but it depends on you and you alone quit for good.
Self-hypnosis is an effective tool for those who struggle with alcohol addiction. Using hypnosis to stop drinking helps you overcome your mental challenges, allowing you to focus on your goals and ideals.