Smoking, overeating and abusing alcohol can be problematic because they can quickly become a habit. What begins as a seemingly harmless attempt to cope and feel better about yourself or a stressful situation quickly becomes a dependency that never ends. Unfortunately, all addictions start and end with pain but can be helped with hypnosis.
Addictions reduce your resilience
Tobacco, food and alcohol change your mental and emotional state for a limited time, and when it wears off, it depletes your energy levels, leaving you worse for wear. Long-term use erodes your energy levels, health, motivation, self-esteem, and mental and emotional resilience in handling everyday stresses. All of this results in a vicious cycle that renders you powerless and unable to resist the temptation to do it again.
Conditioned responses to specific triggers
Over time, unhealthy habits become a conditioned response to a trigger, for instance, feeling stressed can trigger the desire to drink, eat or smoke. This conditioned response was noted by Ivan Pavlov in 1897 during a series of experiments on the gastric system of dogs.
He noticed that every time they smelt food, they salivated. They even salivated whenever they saw the technician who usually fed them. More importantly, every time his technicians fed the dogs they rang a bell and over time, even when the bell was rung and the bowl was empty, the dogs still salivated.
These dogs were conditioned to associate the sound of the bell with food which triggered them to salivate in expectation of being fed. This is a prime example of how triggers automatically affect a physiological response.
Triggers can be the environment, a feeling, a person or a specific event. Virtually anything can be associated and conditioned to become a trigger. All it takes is the existence of the trigger for the habit to be exhibited.
Conditioned responses and smoking
Persistent, long-term smoking is another example of classical or Pavlovian conditioning. Nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive substances in the world. That’s because the effects of nicotine occur very rapidly after the initial inhalation from a cigarette. Within 10 to 20 seconds the nicotine has reached specific receptors in the brain, and dopamine is released.
The speed of this physiological response helps to form the addiction, which is rapid and often, long-lasting. Classical conditioning means that just seeing a cigarette packet can trigger the need to smoke. Lighting up when talking on the phone, when sitting in your favourite chair, after a meal or when drinking a beer becomes an automatic response. All of these can become triggers when paired with smoking. In other words, your desire to smoke has become conditioned or joined to other habits or situations.
Conditioned responses and overeating
Overeating is also a form of Pavlovian conditioning. Researchers believe that overeating isn’t related to hunger, it’s more related to a heightened Pavlovian response to food cues in the environment.
Triggers include food-related cues, such as the smell, sight and taste of food. Of course. seeing pictures of food in a magazine, driving past McDonald’s golden arches or watching an ad for Domino’s Pizza on the TV are also highly effective triggers. Overeating is an advertiser’s dream come true!
As a conditioned Pavlovian response, you associate a reward with eating. It’s the sight, smell and taste of food that not only stimulates your appetite but also creates a behavioural response, such as ordering your favourite pizza online or turning into McDonald’s.
If you overeat regularly, you generally experience a strong urge to eat food which is correlated with a higher food intake. It’s important to note that these cravings are related to high-calorie foods and due to your Pavlovian response, sating your appetite doesn’t reduce these cravings.
That’s because the reward (sight, smell and taste of the food) that fuels your craving doesn’t diminish even when you’ve eaten your favourite food. So you want more and you overeat.
Conditioned responses and alcohol abuse
Most of the research into alcohol abuse has focussed on alcoholics. Specifically, on the triggers that produce a relapse in alcoholics or aversion therapy that produces a conditioned and negative response to the ingestion of alcohol.
However, not everyone who overindulges in alcohol is an alcoholic, some people might binge drink on weekends or only in social settings where alcohol is served. Whilst the cause or aetiology of unhealthy drinking, alcoholism or binge drinking is not well understood, we know that long-term overindulgence releases dopamine. This creates the reward sequence of craving alcohol, followed by drinking and the release of dopamine.
It has been hypothesised that people at risk of alcoholism have an unusually large dopamine response when drinking. Of course, you may be triggered to overindulge in alcohol due to stress, depression, grief or being in the company of others who heavily imbibe regularly.
Whatever the cause of your addiction to smoking, food or alcohol, hypnosis can help get your life back on track.
Road to recovery using hypnosis
The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem and the second is to take full responsibility for the choices that have led to your current addiction. These two steps are essential because they put you back in control – into the position of being the chooser instead of feeling like the victim and loser.
Conquering smoking with hypnosis
What some smokers may not know when attempting to quit is that nicotine leaves the body entirely in three to four days. What’s left are the conditioned triggers and associations that make you want to smoke, based on specific environments and feelings as explained above. Hypnosis can help you decondition yourself to these triggers, but for hypnosis to work, you must want to stop smoking.
That’s because hypnotherapy can only reinforce your feeling and desires, not overwhelm them or change them. So if you’re ready to give up smoking and you’re committed to becoming a non-smoker, hypnosis can lead to a successful outcome. Essentially, by using hypnosis, we weaken your desire to smoke and strengthen your desire to quit.
Conquering overeating with hypnosis
Whether you consistently overeat or you binge eat, hypnosis can help. Low-calorie diets or skipping meals might help you lose weight temporarily but are usually not successful over the long term. Most people regain the lost weight because they have conditioned responses that result in overeating or binge eating.
Overeating can be a learned behaviour where you were always told to clean your plate before leaving the table. Stress, depression and low self-esteem can also result in overeating, often termed emotional eating. You can also overeat because you’re choosing calorie-laden foods (snacks are a good example) rather than more healthy options. These foods do little to curb your hunger, so you eat more and end up piling on the weight.
You might also overeat because you’re distracted, not noticing what or how much you’re eating. Snacking while watching TV is a good example where you can eat a substantial number of calories without feeling full. Then there’s boredom, where you eat to pass the time, simply because you’re bored.
Using hypnosis, we explore the triggers for your overeating, help heal any deep-rooted emotional triggers, and put you back in control.
Conquering alcohol abuse with hypnosis
For most people, becoming a teetotaller involves a lot more than just deciding not to drink alcohol anymore. Depending on the length of time you’ve been overindulging, you may suffer significant withdrawal symptoms. Then there are all the social triggers and even peer pressure to continue drinking. It’s not easy giving up alcohol, particularly when it’s used to cope with stress, insomnia, work, financial or relationship issues.
Using hypnosis, we explore the triggers that cause you to drink alcohol, strengthen your desire to stop drinking, and even cut down on drinking if that’s your goal. After all, not everyone wants to stop drinking alcohol, it might be enough for you to simply cut down on the amount and frequency.
For severely addicted alcoholics, however, hypnosis along with other treatments, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, can safely aid in your recovery.
How does hypnosis help conquer your addictions?
Hypnosis is effective because new healthier associations that bypass the old triggers are impressed on your subconscious mind. This means that your urge to smoke, overeat or overindulge in alcohol weakens or is removed.
Self-identity is essential when removing addictions and so it’s necessary to see yourself as a non-smoker, balanced eater or controlled drinker. Using hypnotherapy, your new identity is imprinted at the subconscious level. This makes your transition much more accessible because identity and self-perception influence how we think, act and feel.
Your conscious mind, however, can make you feel overwhelmed when you decide to heal your addiction. Bad habits or addictions can take a long time to wither and die, particularly if they have been established over a long period. So it’s good to know that your subconscious mind doesn’t take into account the length of your addiction it simply accepts the new suggestions literally.
This is why many people who suffer from addictions, such as smoking, overeating or alcohol abuse find that hypnosis helps them conquer these addictions or bad habits. Particularly, many long-term smokers who never thought they could quit become non-smokers through hypnotherapy.
If you want to explore how hypnosis can help heal your addictions, call Skye now on 0402 006 985 today.