Hypnosis for addiction recovery treatment – does it work?

There is a general agreement that certain effects of hypnosis exist. But there are differences of opinion within the research and clinical communities about whether or not hypnosis is as effective as other addiction treatment therapies – addiction treatments that have already been studied and proven effective. Can hypnotism be explained as a placebo effect or does evidence suggest that more research is required?

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Hypnosis for addiction.  Now we’re talking controversial.

Some researchers believe that hypnosis is effective to the degree that participants possess a hypnotic trait…something inborn and akin to your height, body size, hair color, etc.  Others believe that there are strong cognitive and interpersonal components that affect an individual’s response to hypnotic environments and suggestions.  Regardless of the theories of how our minds and bodies respond to the treatment, research is divided about whether or not hypnotic communication and suggestions effectively changes aspects of the person’s physiological and neurological functions.

Simply, the research evidence to support hypnotherapy is INCONCLUSIVE.

Early work in hypnosis by Anton Mesmer (1734–1815), James Braid (1795–1860), Hippolyte Bernheim (1840–1919), and Jean Martin Charcot (1825–1893) illustrated that the symptoms of certain patients could be altered by suggestions and that the mind could block out awareness of posthypnotic suggestions without in any way diminishing the patient’s need to follow the suggestions.  Initial and partial results of a 2008 study by the Israeli Department of Health point to the possible potential of group hypnosis in the reduction of street drug use.  But similar studies have failed to show that hypnotherapy has a greater effect on addiction quit rates than other interventions or no treatment at all.

Skeptics credit the placebo effect to explain the efficacy of some of the positive effects that can be achieved by hypnosis. (Neuroscience, second edition textbook 2001).  But as a believer myself, I tend to scoff at the skeptics.  What do you think?  Are researchers going to perpetually find what they’re out to look for, whether it be to support or to discredit hypnotism?  Can only people predisposed to the treatment benefit from the effects? What would it take to make a conclusive case for hypnotism, especially for addicts?  How many studies?  How many people?

Interested in being hypnotized? Check out these clinical trials for hypnosis and discover first-hand whether or not “mesmerization” works for you!

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. nice subject. Hypnotherapy has a greater effect on addiction quit rates than other interventions or no treatment at all. When you reach the bottom of the circle just continue to breathe around the circle, being very careful to keep the circle connected and allowing the breath to flow naturally. Beating an addiction is never easy and going through rehab treatment can be a difficult experience for any person.

  2. I have had a reasonable success rate treating variious addictions with hypnosis. I wonder if you are aware of any clinical research studies upon this subjust?

  3. I agree with both of you. Hypnosis has even been found in a clinical setting to help people with skin problems and Parkinson’s disease (placebo effect)! It is a good point to seek a trusted hypnotherapist, because a very relaxed state of consciousness is a very vulnerable place.

  4. A good read. Thanks. I would also suggest seeing a reputable Hypnotherapist for a professional and ethical treatment.

  5. Honestly I think it can help some people, and on others it will have no effect. I am also a firm believer that it is also down to the persons own belief as to whether it works or not.

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