Are you addicted to smoking, alcohol or gambling?
Do you find it difficult to live with your addiction?
Do you want to break free of your addiction?
If so, this post will explain how your addiction hijacks your brain and how hypnosis can help you overcome your addiction.
Understanding how addiction hijacks the brain can help you realise that your addiction is not a weakness.
You did not intend to become addicted.
But your brain got caught in the biological and chemical trap of your addiction.
Recovery from addiction definitely requires willpower but in many cases it also requires therapy, such as hypnotherapy, medication and self-care.
The Brain’s Pleasure Centre
The brain’s pleasure centre is called the ‘nucleus accumbens’.
The nucleus accumbens releases the feel-good chemical called ‘dopamine’ when we experience a pleasure.
Addictions cause powerful changes in the brain’s pleasure centre.
The Brain’s Reward System
The brain’s reward system plays an important role in keeping you alive.
It links beneficial behaviours, such as eating and sex, with the feelings of pleasure so you want to do them again.
The reward system includes the pleasure centre and the parts of the brain responsible for motivation and memory.
Addiction hijacks the brain’s reward system.
All addictive drugs and activities flood the nucleus accumbens with dopamine.
When the nucleus accumbens is flooded with dopamine a memory of the pleasurable event is stored in the ‘hippocampus’.
At the same time, the ‘amygdala’ creates the habit behaviour in response to triggers in your environment.
When the nucleus accumbens is frequently flooded with dopamine, the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex connect ‘liking‘ (pleasure) and ‘wanting’ (desire).
When these two parts of the brain communicate in this way you become motivated to take the addictive drug.
Therefore, dopamine not only creates feelings of pleasure but also plays an important role in helping you remember the pleasure, form a habit and motivate you to experience the pleasure again.
In nature, rewards usually only happen with time and energy.
But addictive drugs and activities bypass the natural process.
Addictive drugs can release up to 10 times the normal levels of dopamine compared to natural rewards.
And they do it more quickly and more reliably.
In situations like this, the brain finds it hard to withstand the attack of increased dopamine levels.
When the brain becomes flooded with dopamine it responds by producing less natural dopamine. The brain also removes some of the dopamine receptors that dopamine binds to.
This is the brain’s way of installing a barrier to reduce the flood of dopamine.
When this happens you experience less pleasure when you take the usual amount of drug.
The end result is that dopamine has less impact on the brain’s reward centre and you need to take more of the drug to get the same level of pleasure.
Compulsion Takes Over
When pleasure levels drop, you experience a compulsion to take more of the drug because the memory and desire of the pleasure remain in place.
You get intense cravings whenever you encounter these triggers because the hippocampus and the amygdala store information about environmental triggers related to the addiction.
Intense cravings caused by the amygdala and hippocampus effect on your addiction and the chances of relapsing. That is why it is important to recognise and be aware of environmental triggers so that you can avoid them where possible.
How can hypnosis help with addiction?
Hypnotherapy, combined with other forms of treatment such as medication and self-care, can be very helpful in helping you overcome your addiction.
Hypnosis allows you to connect with your subconscious thoughts. It aims to help you change your response to the environmental triggers that cause your intense cravings.
Lastly, learning self-hypnosis can help with self-care. Practising self-hypnosis regularly can give you the best chance of permanently overcoming your addiction.
If you are interested in finding out if hypnosis can help you beat your addiction please get in touch to book your free consultation.
Before starting therapy, you are advised to talk to your doctor to discuss the most appropriate form of treatment for your drug addiction.
Hypnotherapy is not a rapid stand-alone cure for chronic drug addiction but it is a useful tool to help you beat your addiction.