Working towards a successful outcome

The client with an addiction, their family and loved ones, and the hypnotherapist need to understand some things very clearly before embarking on this course of action. Briefly they are:

1. The client is sick. They will likely either continue to experience negative impacts from their addiction if it goes unchecked, or more likely the costs (physically, socially and emotionally) will increase.

2. The client requires support from those around them in the same way someone suffering a serious illness requires support. A non-judgemental approach has to be taken by those around the client. Few people would condemn an individual who learned they had contracted terminal cancer. In many ways, someone coming to terms with a severe addiction is in much the same position as the cancer patient. They face a poor outcome, there is a sense of fatalism and lack of control. They are experiencing failing physical health and are expected to deal with their problem with a severely diminished physical and emotional capacity. Feeling isolated from loved ones during this process will only contribute to the likelihood of a negative outcome.

3. Many of the things the client has done – actions carried out as a result of an addiction – are not really the client’s actions at all. They are the actions of the drug. A classic case is where an addict has stolen from their family. The family may reject the individual as a result. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of addiction. It is not unreasonable to say ‘the addiction’ stole from the family. Often transgressions are much more serious than stealing – and more hurtful. As hard as it may seem, the client’s supporters need to suspend their wounds. They may have been hurt terribly as a result of the client’s addiction. This is a tough thing to ask. However, in the interests of finding a solution – suspending that sense of hurt (however temporarily) is something the supporters need to do. A good exercise to do in this regard is to choose a date at which the addiction took over. As hard as this may seem, subsequent actions that caused pain to the client’s supporters need to be viewed with a degree of understanding.

4. The client needs to buy into their recovery. The client has to be committed to the project and understand the serious nature of their situation. Doing nothing will result in a continued spiral down. If they are not yet ready to address their situation, they have no right to expect supporters or their therapist to commit to a difficult and emotionally expensive course of action. Every possible contribution to a successful outcome needs to be made. Not showing up to a treatment session because, ‘something came up’ is not an acceptable level of commitment. The approach we use is quite simple. You can end the issue, or chose to continue it. We only work with clients choosing to end the issue.

It takes a lot for a partner to see a loved one get through addiction. It’s very easy just to leave. Keep in mind our clients include investment bankers, journalists, very successful businessmen, children, software company senior executives and housewives. Don’t just see the addiction – see the person behind it. It could very easily have been you rather than them. If the situation were reversed, what would you want?