How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help recovery from addiction?

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy & Addiction

Dopamine & Addiction

How do we become addicted?

When we become addicted to a certain behaviour or substance (i.e. shopping, sex, cannabis, smoking, eating), the brain’s natural ability to produce dopamine gets disturbed and thrown out of balance. As pleasure and pain are processed in the same part of the brain and work like opposite sides of the balance. This means for every pleasure there is a cost and that cost is pain.

Imagine that in the brain there is a see saw, that see saw will tip to one side when we experience pleasure, and the opposite side when we experience pain. But, when the balance tips to the side of pleasure, the brain will work very hard to restore a level balance or ‘homeostasis’. It does that by not just by putting the balance level again but first by tipping it an equal and opposite amount to the to the side of pain, that is the after-effect, the come-down. Over time we need more and more, not to get the same kick but just to feel normal. The activities that release dopamine with minimal effort (drugs, porn, social media scrolling) dysregulate dopamine the most.

If we wait long enough, homeostasis is restored and we go back to our baseline tonic level of dopamine firing. But if we continue to ingest addictive substances or behaviours over very long periods of time, our brain’s go into a chronic dopamine deficit state. That is essentially where we get when we’ve crossed over into the disease of addiction. 

How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) help with addiction recovery?

It takes at least 30 days of abstinence for the brain to restore its baseline dopamine firing so that homeostasis or balance is reinstated. Abstinence is obviously extremely difficult when we are faced with triggers and we may feel irritable, anxious and numb.

SFH helps to boost the ‘good’ chemicals in the brain by shifting focus towards alternative positive behaviours. It also helps to create new routines and thought patterns, developing new behaviours and practising new skills. When we do this new connections are made between neurons and the brain reroutes to create an alternative pathway. Through repetition we strengthen the new pathways and new, more positive habits emerge.

Similar to trying to walk through a dense forest, creating a new pathway can be challenging. Slowly, by repeating the same route, the ground beneath us becomes a rough path. Over time, we walk through with ease. Our previous route becomes overgrown and impassable.

By using the innate resources of the brain, we can develop behaviours, thought patterns and tools to strengthen our recovery.


Dopamine Nation – Dr Anna Lembuke

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