Addictions and Hypnosis

When many people think of addictions, we envision an alcoholic passed out at the end of a bar or a drug user crouching behind a trash can in an alley. While there is always enough truth in a stereotype to make it believable, the reality is that millions of America suffer from an addiction to something or someone.

An addiction is both simple and complicated: at its most simple, an addiction is something that we are simply free “not to do” without experiencing physical, psychological or emotional discomfort. And it’s complicated in that can affect every level of our life and relationships.

We know now that there are basically two types of addictions. On the one hand we know a lot about “substance” addictions. Some of the latest numbers of drug addiction in the United States are sobering (pun intended.) The National Institutes for Health estimate that over 20 percent of people are currently addicted to some drug.

Non-medical abuse of prescription drugs has increased by 98% since 2004 and drug related overdoses have increased by 56% during the same time. Millions are addicted to opiates, heroin, amphetamines and over-the-counter drugs. Even “legal” abuse is catastrophic: alcohol abuse is up 10 percent in the last 10 years and over 200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year from using nicotine-based products.

The other “hidden” addiction is what are called process addictions. Perhaps the most famous of these is sex addiction or “shopping” addictions, but they also include folk who are addicted to the adrenaline rush of risky activities, and they need a bigger risk to feel a bigger rush. Two other areas where people get addicted is in intimate relationships and religious practice. Often people feel like they “need” to feel love and actually go through withdrawals when affection is withdrawn, or others feel absolute terror when they think they have offended their Supreme Being.

In some ways, addictions are a combination of biological process and psychological need. The cells of our body have “pleasure receptors” that are part of what makes life enjoyable. A good meal, a nice soak in a hot-tub, a child’s embrace all evoke pleasure at the cellular level and we psychologically feel great. The non-addicted person can enjoy the moment and then get on with life, knowing that more pleasure is on its way at the right time.

For the addicted person, when they repeatedly activate the pleasure apparatus of their body, they become used to the sensations and after a while become dependent upon the substance or process that brought them pleasure. After a while, a subtle change takes place where the good feeling is no longer an option, but rather a necessity, and finally it becomes essential. When they don’t have access to their “pleasure delivery system” they go into withdrawal and the body begins to experience uncomfortable feelings and some degree of anxiety.

Much of my work with clients at New Visions Medical Clinic in Beverly Hills involves helping people who are becoming free of an addictive process or substance. One of the ways that hypnotherapy helps is that we can “dial down” the client’s anxiety response to withdrawal. As we’ve talked about in other posts, anxiety is such a powerful negative factor in people’s lives, and none more so than in the lives of people in recovery.

In hypnosis, we show the client how to use their mind to reduce their anxiety response and we offer subconscious suggestions to decrease cravings of the substance or process. As part of a program of recovery, hypnotherapy assists the client to gain a more balanced sense of themselves and greater peace of mind.

If addictions, anxieties or cravings are a problem for you, I’d be glad to help you get free. Make an appointment today via my website or contact me at and let’s get started today.

To Your Optimal Health,
Dr. David James

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