Realization: a healthy first step

A client realizing their problem is moving from something which started as a little fun to something which is getting out of control is quite frightening. However, the realization that a line has been crossed and a problem has developed is a positive observation. The individual’s survival mechanism is kicking in as it should. The alarm bells ringing show that there a problem, but also that the alarm system functions properly. It’s frightening to hear those alarm bells, but not as frightening as to ‘not hear’ the alarm bells.

For anyone working with addictions of this type there can be little middle ground. The addict is sick. They display physical symptoms and act out in ways that can result in death. Typically an untreated narcotic addict can expect to lose the following (generally in this order):

1. Time.
2. Their health (initial symptoms of addiction).
3. Friends.
4. Money (as addiction escalates).
5. Their job.
6. Their loved ones (the separated mother gets a restraining order against the addicted father – she doesn’t want their teenage son exposed to ‘those’ people).
7. Health and perhaps even their life.

Many addicts, particularly with crack, or crystal meth, are no more in control of their affliction than someone suffering from a severe disease. Just wishing it away will not have any positive effect. Make no mistake, one can die of ‘diminished responsibility’. Drunk drivers involved in car accidents are a case in point. Dying of a drug addiction seldom means dying as a result of an overdose. More likely a dirty needle results in an infection or virus that leads to AIDS or hepatitis. Years later this runs its course. Or, in a moment of narcotic haze an action is taken that results in a criminal record or imprisonment. Social factors such as violence in prison then contribute to an early death. This can be through poor health, or at the end of a switchblade. In either case, the narcotics have directly or indirectly contributed to the subject’s death. Be under no illusions, even pot can kill a user who suffers a severe addiction.

Hypnotherapy can have a powerful positive impact on addictions. It has to be applied in a very specific way to have lasting effects, from a position of understanding the nature of addiction. Just hypnotizing a client who uses cocaine to stop continued consumption can possibly do as much damage as it would remedy. In some cases it could be hugely damaging. Therapists unused to working with addictions should familiarize themselves thoroughly with all aspects of withdrawal. Ending use is only part of the issue – and taken in isolation, is not only very easy but can be completely meaningless. Secondary addictive behavior will likely take over. Ending the cause of the addiction, and the repeated behavior is the objective and requires skill, patience and a full understanding of the client, their motivations and how they work.

Do not expect a successful and healthy outcome without a significant investment in time and effort from all concerned – client, therapist and client supporters. Having said this, keep in mind that this is a system that works relatively swiftly. A little commitment now will go along way later.