Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Addictive Curve

(This blog was originally posted on May 24, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

The “addictive curve” is a model to describe the formation and perpetuation of addictions. For example, a person takes heroin and gets a “rush.” He then starts coming down, going lower than the state where he started, which creates a new “bottom.” Most people shoot up again as soon as they start to come down, which triggers the addiction. However, if the person waits to take the drug until just before reaching the level he normally should be, he will get even “higher” with this dose and then come back to normal.

A person can take any substance that has an addictive property—including coffee—and never become addicted to it if the individual doesn’t fall into the addictive curve. “What makes a heroin addict a heroin ‘addict’ is the feeling of coming back down,” Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D., explained. If you avoid the addictive curve (usually 12 hours) and wait to take the drug until you are back at that normal level, you won’t become addicted to it, he added.

Dr. Kappas demonstrated how he would help a client overcome a heroin addiction during one of his clinical case history sessions. The process entailed taking the individual off the drug “cold turkey,” then having him experience all the symptoms of withdrawal very quickly during hypnosis. Meanwhile, the hypnotherapist had the client release the feelings and go back to homeostasis while giving the hypnotic suggestion that the person did not need heroin. Dr. Kappas’s complete hypnotherapy-treatment strategy entailed taking the client from the homeostatic state back to an artificial high, then bringing him back down to experience withdrawal symptoms again, for 14 days.

“We can duplicate in hypnosis any feeling you can get from any kind of drug, from heroin, marijuana, cocaine, etc. many times we duplicate that feeling artificially so we can get the client down here to create artificial withdrawals,” he said. After the therapy program described above, however, “there’s no feeling (addiction) for heroin at all.”

A caveat: while alcohol addiction follows a similar pattern in terms of the addictive curve, hypnotherapists do not deal with alcohol addictions. “The alcoholic is much harder to deal with than the drug addict because alcohol is an accessible social drug, and there’s too many ways to cheat on alcohol. It’s a way of life,” Dr. Kappas said. The physical dependency on alcohol also tends to be stronger than the physical dependency on drugs, he added.

As I have explained in previous essays, the Business and Professions Code 2908 limits the scope of hypnotherapists’ professional practice to helping people achieve vocational and avocational self-improvement goals. Hypnotherapists must also seek a referral from licensed mental-health and/or licensed medical professionals when there may be a physiological or psychological origin of the client’s discomfort, which is outside of the scope of hypnotherapy. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are great tools to help a person follow Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous, etc. guidelines during rehabilitation from a substance addiction. However, when I work with an individual to help break this addictive curve I usually ask that the person continues to receive support from a sponsor and/or 12-step program during this process.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.
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