The bio-chemistry of the brain plays a central role in addictions, but as we change a person’s stress or pleasure responses to a stimulus with hypnosis, we can also change the body’s biochemical reactions and release of neurohormones. This understanding is key to bringing about rapid change and releasing people from their fears and addictions.
There a part of the brain that consistently wants pleasure, and it is known as the “Reward Center.” It’s scientific name is the Nucleus Accumbens. Every time a cigarette smoker has a thought of lighting up, a neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine is released and finds its way to receptors connected to the Reward Center. This creates the feeling of pleasure, but when the system is stimulated time and again by more cigarettes the dopamine receptors are down-regulated and the smoker gets less pleasure per cigarette. He or she smokes more and more to try to reach that same level of pleasure; in as a short time as three weeks smoking can become habitual and then you become addicted. The same process applies to all addictions – alcohol, food, sex, etc.
So how does hypnosis help? At the deep state of hypnosis, the suggestions I give to the client are extremely powerful and can last a lifetime. The technique I use is simple: I instruct the Reward Center in the brain that cigarettes are no longer a pleasure, and that the smoker can easily stop. I ask the brain to look at the great advantages for the smoker’s long-term health. I remind the smoker that there is plenty of evidence that five years or more of constant smoking can take up to six years off your expected lifespan. There was an epidemiological study conducted in Denmark where they compared the longevity of women who smoke up to twenty five cigarettes a day to those women who only smoked three cigarettes a day. The result was that there was no difference. Just a few cigarettes every day had the same effect as a pack of cigarettes daily. Future pacing someone’s health is a powerful way of getting a smoker to realize that he is slowly but surely killing himself. Burning tobacco produces more than 4,000 chemicals, and the heat of the smoke inhaled can reach 1650 °F. This damages the tiny air sacs in the lung that move oxygen into the bloodstream and can cause emphysema and heart disease.
I find that one long session of two and a half hours is best for smoking cessation. In the session I take a history exploring the stressors in their life, and we talk about the beneficial outcome of stopping. I explain how hypnosis works and what exactly will happen in the session. The client will be in the hypnotic state for about 35 to 40 minutes, which I record. I give them the recording, asking them to listen to it three times a week for three weeks. There is an unconditional guarantee that if the smoker goes back on the habit within a year of their initial session, they can come back for free booster sessions as needed. I have kept records over the years of my success rate for smokers. About 85% will stop permanently with on session, and about 15% return for a second session. I consider that pretty good. Of those who return, the majority will stop. Occasionally someone comes back three or four times, but this is rare.
Hypnosis can deal with all the recreational drugs, and the method is similar to smoking. The most powerful, I find, is methamphetamine, but I have excellent results with stopping even this very harmful habit. I see one or two people a week with alcohol addiction, and in 95% of the cases this is fixable in two to three sessions. A useful variation is helping people cut down to (say) two glasses of wine an evening or just confining drinking to certain days of the week.
I am often bemused that people spend a small fortune in going to Rehab for thirty days when hypnosis can fix it in a week at a small fraction of the cost.
Other addictions that I see clients for work more or less the same way, and are all fixable easily and quickly. They include:
- Sugar and sweets
- Soft drinks (regular and diet, which can be worse for you)
- Scratching and Pimple squeezing
- And more…