Hypnosis Helps Break Addiction

Practitioners say technique achieves the positive results to fight addiction

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


Addiction isn’t easy to break.

More than 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction, excluding tobacco, according to AddictionCenter. Its site —www.addictioncenter.com — states that “100 people die every day from drug overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years.”

Among the many types of assistance available, hypnosis has shown to help people beat addiction.

“Hypnosis is a process of progressive relaxation,” said Kathy Calabrese, certified hypnotherapist and founder and CEO of The Brain-Body Health Technology Institute, LLC in Buffalo. “The main benefit is when you go into a place of relaxation, it supports the parasympathetic nervous system. One of the characteristics of addiction is an imbalance between the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system.

“The latter is overactive and you’re constantly in fight or flight stage. When you go thru hypnosis — and there are many other ways of getting in that state — it’s designed to support the relaxation response.”

She also said that the cause of addiction is a person’s unhealthy means of dealing with overwhelming depression and anxiety. Calabrese said that addictive substances can trigger the pleasure area of the brain, which induces the person to repeat using the substance to bring more pleasure and relief from emotional pain.

By tapping into the reason clients had initially chosen addiction over healthy coping mechanisms, Calabrese said she can help them achieve better success in beating the addiction.

For some people, simply working on the level of the conscious mind isn’t as effective. Using hypnosis, in addition to other therapy techniques, achieves the best results, she said.

Hypnosis is not a matter of placing people in a trance and they wake up transformed. Clients are aware of the interaction, but in a relaxed state of internal focus in which they can explore what prevents them from doing what they need to do.

“We don’t use a pocket watch,” said Corrin Matthews-Rutkowski clinical hypnotherapist, ordained reverend and owner of Extraordinary Change Hypnosis in Buffalo. “Everyone’s brain works differently. When someone comes in, I do a lot of profiling and detailing the way their brain works fastest.

“Some are visual; others are auditory and others are hands-on. Depending upon the type of brain depends upon the type of induction — getting the person into a hypnotic state.”

Clients typically lie on a couch in a relaxed state and listen to Matthews-Rutkowski’s spoken suggestions.

She may use regression therapy, where she helps clients think about key memories and then tell their younger selves what they have learned in the meantime.

“I ask them to reinforce that subconscious method and they’ll nod or shake their head or get more comfortable,” she said. “I bring them back to present life and present day by counting them up. They are usually surprised by what they remember. They may feel touched that they never felt positive about themselves that way before. That was regression therapy.”

To become successful, clients need to be willing to change. Depending upon the issue and the therapist, clients may need three to six sessions to resolve their issues.


“They don’t realize they’re learning,” Matthews-Rutkowski said. “They always sit up and feel amazing, and lighter.”

She continues to see clients weekly until their issues have resolved, and usually that takes 10 to 20 sessions.

“Some people in traditional counseling may be in it for years,” Matthews-Rutkowski said. “I do recommend they keep a counselor because they often need someone as an adviser because they skipped certain development skills.”

Clients should also follow their doctor’s advice while undergoing hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy rates range from around $105 to $150 per session. It’s usually not covered by health insurance.