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Hypnosis to Treat Alcoholism

Learn how hypnosis is used to treat alcoholism in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


When people are seeking treatment for alcohol disorders, they'll often ask me if hypnosis is a good treatment for their alcohol problem. Well, we look at different kinds of treatments from the perspective of evidence through research. There is not a research base that shows us that hypnosis is effective in and of itself as a treatment for alcohol problems.

Having said that, however, what we do know about hypnosis is that hypnosis is a relaxant. Hypnosis can help people unwind, help people to relax. It can teach people techniques to help their treatment. So when people come into treatment, people often are very frightened to be in treatment. Sometimes they're very frightened to reveal themselves in front of other people, whether that be a one person, a therapist or a group or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Where the expectation is that you're going to talk about yourself and talk about your intimate parts of yourself in front of other people.

So often people come in and, particularly when they're struggling to stop using alcohol. They are highly anxious and scared. And so what we do know is that hypnosis can help people relax more, help people be able to mellow out a little bit. And that's often what people use alcohol to do. So it can help people replace alcohol if they're using it as a relaxant. So they can go through hypnosis and then employ some of those techniques they learned through hypnosis to help themselves relax in order to be in treatment, in regular standard treatments that do have a research base.

So in my practice when people ask me that, I will tell them, no, you can't really expect hypnosis to be the treatment, but yes, that I totally recommend that they might try hypnosis as something that's helpful to them in their other treatment.

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