How EMDR Can Help Your Addiction
Table of Contents
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful and transformative tool for addiction treatment. Research has demonstrated that it can be effective in addressing craving, improving affective states, and reducing relapse rates. EMDR therapy has been found to reduce cravings for substances such as alcohol and drugs, as well as behaviours such as problem gambling and eating disorders. It has also been found to improve mood and reduce anxiety symptoms associated with addiction.
Moreover, if you are struggling to process past traumatic events that may be contributing to your addiction, EMDR can help find better approaches for this. EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation (alternating auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli) to reduce the intensity of painful memories and improve emotional regulation. This helps gain self-insight into your behaviour and make healthier choices in the future.
Studies have found that EMDR therapy can be more effective than other treatments when used as an adjunct to traditional therapies. While Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing has been used to treat a variety of psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is now increasing evidence that it can be effective for treating alcohol and drug addiction, as well as problem behaviours.
Understanding Addiction: Exploring the Psychological Roots
Addiction has many underlying psychological factors. To truly understand addiction, it is important to explore the impact of substance and behavioural disorders on mental well-being. Here are some of the factors that can lead to addictions later in life:
- unresolved trauma
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- acute stress disorder
- distressing memories
- negative emotions
- low self-esteem
- poor coping skills
- relationship problems
Your mental health is intertwined with your negative emotions and self-doubt, which can also be part of the underlying causes of your addiction. EMDR therapy can help reduce cravings, improve affective states, and reduce relapse rates. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy are extremely useful when combined with other therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, both part of the programme offered by the CATCH Recovery team of addiction experts.
Eye Movements as a Source of Natural Healing Process
Eye movements can be employed as a form of bilateral stimulation. This involves tracking the therapist’s moving finger or another designated object with your eyes. This stimulates neurological pathways and structures, potentially facilitating the processing of traumatic memories.
Theories suggest that simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation can disrupt working memory and create beneficial effects. EMDR therapy should be administered by a trained professional to ensure the safe and effective use of eye movements during the sessions. This is why CATCH Recovery only employs experienced and certified counsellors.
EMDR Therapy: A Comprehensive Overview
This therapeutic technique utilises simultaneous stimulation (alternating auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli) to reduce the intensity of painful memories and improve emotional regulation, and can allow you to gain self-insight into your behaviour and make healthier choices in the future. The following is a comprehensive overview of the various exercises used during the EMDR treatment offered by the CATCH Recovery EMDR therapists:
- Create and visualise a mental safe haven or calm place to provide comfort and stability.
- Collaboratively assess and target specific traumatic experiences or addiction-related memories.
- Engage in alternating bilateral sensory experiences, such as eye movements, auditory tones, or tactile sensations.
- Identify and enhance internal resources, positive beliefs, strengths, and coping strategies. Associate these resources with the targeted traumatic memories or addiction-related experiences.
- Hold the targeted memory in mind while engaging in bilateral stimulation. Reprocess the memory and the integration of new insights and adaptive beliefs.
- Introduce alternative perspectives, challenge negative beliefs, or promote self-compassion to address resistance.
- Find closure and stabilise your emotions. Make sure to discuss any remaining thoughts or feelings of pain during your Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing sessions with our therapists.
At the end of the sessions, you will evaluate the progress made with your counsellor and plan for the next steps in the therapeutic process.
EMDR Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly co-occurs with addiction and is one of the more prominent subjects of dual diagnosis treatment. Since EMDR therapy can help heal both mental health conditions and substance use disorders, this is a great opportunity to challenge both the negative symptoms of your PTSD and the emotional distress related to withdrawals and abstinence.
Treatment planning is a very important step in helping you heal from dual diagnosis, and our addiction counsellors are very skilled at the eight phases of EMDR for patients suffering from comorbidity.
Targeting Addiction-Related Trauma: Identifying and Processing Triggers
Addiction is associated with underlying trauma, and addressing these traumatic experiences is a crucial aspect of effective addiction treatment. Identifying and processing triggers associated with addiction-related trauma is a targeted approach used in therapy, particularly within the framework of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). Treating trauma is a difficult endeavour and cannot be done within just one typical EMDR therapy session. This is why we would need continuous trauma treatment, especially if we are talking about treating PTSD and body sensations related to trauma memory. Desensitising traumatic memories is at the core of addiction-related trauma treatment through EMDR therapy.
Recognising the Impact of Trauma in Addiction
Trauma can be defined as any event or experience that causes physical or emotional pain and distress. Traumatic experiences can include childhood abuse, bullying, neglect, accidents, natural disasters, and more. If you have unresolved trauma, this can lead to negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, shame, sadness and despair. These emotions can create powerful cravings for substances and behaviours that provide temporary relief.
EMDR can also help uncover past traumatic experiences and provide a healthier approach for dealing with them. In this way, this approach can be used to create lasting change in the lives of those suffering from addiction.
Triggers are events, emotions, or situations that evoke traumatic memories or sensations associated with past traumatic experiences. In the context of addiction, triggers can be internal or external factors that prompt the urge to engage in substance abuse or addictive behaviours. Identifying these triggers is a crucial step toward addressing addiction-related trauma and mental health conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder or panic disorder.
Our EMDR therapists are skilled in trauma-focused approaches and employ comprehensive assessments to identify trauma-related triggers. Through a safe and supportive environment, you can explore your personal history, traumatic incidents, and associated emotions. In this way, we can help you uncover the specific triggers contributing to your addiction.
Building Coping Strategies
As triggers are processed and their emotional impact diminishes, you can collaboratively work with our counsellors to develop healthier coping strategies. These strategies may include implementing relaxation techniques, grounding exercises, and positive affirmations to effectively manage triggers and reduce the risk of relapse.
Through our structured therapy, you can resolve behavioural difficulties, but also enforce positive belief. Our EMDR therapy team can help resolve physical symptoms stemming from traumatic memories and reliving a disturbing event. Our highly effective treatment is supported by studies by clinical psychiatry experts and the World Health Organisation.
Coping strategies can help identify psychological and physical symptoms on time and counter their effects in a timely manner. Mental health problems can be improved through EMDR alongside addictions, especially if these co-occurring conditions are based on traumatic memories or events.
Take the First Step Today
CATCH Recovery’s Promise of Health and Care Excellence
At CATCH Recovery, we are committed to providing the highest quality of health and care excellence for our clients. Our team of experienced EMDR therapy professionals works tirelessly to ensure that you and your loved ones receive the support and guidance you need in order to successfully recover.
We provide a comprehensive approach to recovery, integrating evidence-based therapies such as EMDR Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with more holistic approaches such as meditation and mindfulness. Our team is passionate about helping you find your inner strength, build resilience and create a healthier and more balanced life.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, we encourage you to reach out for help.