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Does EMDR Therapy Actually Help with Addiction?

young man wondering does emdr therapy actually help with addiction and a therapist is explaining his options

If you’ve heard of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, you may know it as a treatment for trauma and PTSD. It was initially developed to provide the tools for coping with past and present trauma. Since then, it has been used to treat anxiety and depression, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy for addiction is gaining a lot of traction because the way distressing events, memories, and beliefs hold sway over us affects our relationship with substances and our vulnerability to substance use disorders.

To learn more about the many ways that EMDR for addiction can help you or a loved one, reach out to Mile High Recovery. We offer this evidence-based, proven therapy that helps our clients find recovery and healing. Call us today at 855.796.2102 or reach out by submitting our online form.

What Is EMDR for Addiction?

The brain is a complex organ that works brilliantly to manage every detail of the body’s myriad functions. It’s almost impossible to comprehend all that our brains do moment by moment to keep everything in order. But, sometimes, the brain makes choices that it thinks are serving us well but are actually having adverse effects. For example, people who have anxiety disorders are often flooded with excessive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline even when no actual crisis is at hand. The effects of that anxiety reaction are harmful, but the brain really did think there was cause for such a response. So, we learn to treat anxiety and cue the brain to respond more appropriately in the future.

Traumatic events in our lives also cause the brain to respond in specific ways that don’t end up serving us as well as planned. For example, when we experience trauma, we are under assault. The brain stores the memory of that trauma close by so we can remember it and protect ourselves from future trauma. Unfortunately, as those memories of trauma accumulate, they trick us into feeling like we’re experiencing trauma even when we aren’t. The memories of those events constantly retraumatize us. We react to what is happening around us through the lens of someone experiencing trauma, which makes life difficult and sometimes almost impossible.

When distressing memories of trauma are present, addiction often is too. One way to quiet the immediacy of traumatic memories is through substance misuse. Addressing past trauma through addiction EMDR therapy is one of the most cutting-edge approaches available for treating substance use disorders. EMDR therapy helps relocate memories, reframe beliefs and fears, and enable people to attain sobriety.

EMDR Therapy for Addiction – The Process

Your rehab EMDR therapist will partner with you to create a plan for treatment that is highly targeted with specific stages through which you’ll progress.

  • First, you will discuss your past or current trauma and/or distressing memories with your therapist and choose an area of focus to target with EMDR.
  • Second, your therapist will teach you skills to use between sessions to reduce stress.
  • Third, you will engage for several sessions on processing your trauma using bilateral stimulation of the brain, usually through eye movement. This process moves the targeted experience and associated memories to a part of the brain where it will be unable to trigger your trauma response. You can begin to create positive beliefs and emotions that will guide your life instead of those that renew and strengthen your trauma and associated harmful beliefs.
  • Next, you process the entire EMDR experience through writing. This part of the work may give rise to additional information or emotional responses that you can work through with your therapist. You will write about your substance use and what your vision for your future looks like now.
  • Finally, you and your therapist wrap up the entire experience by confirming that the memories of trauma no longer activate you and that you have transformed your relationship with those memories as well as with the substance to which you are addicted.

Mile High Recovery’s EMDR Therapy for Addiction

At Mile High Recovery, we are proud to offer numerous evidence-based therapies for substance use disorders, including addiction EMDR therapy. You will find that EMDR can liberate you from the grip of traumatic memory and addiction, especially when combined with other therapies and peer support groups.

Find out how EMDR for addiction can transform your life. Call Mile High Recovery today at 855.796.2102 or submit our easy online form.

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