Hypnosis for Alcoholism Treatment: Effectiveness of Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis for Alcoholism

hypnosis for alcoholismIn using hypnosis for alcoholism treatment, the hypnotist leads the alcoholic into a trance-like state. The alcoholic “can become more imaginative and better at problem solving. In short, they’re in prime position to sort out strategies for conquering their own addictive behaviors.”1 The person must want to stop drinking and must be sober at the time of hypnosis. That’s because clear thinking is essential.

Myths about Hypnosis

Some myths about hypnosis might make a person hesitant to try hypnosis for alcoholism. But the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis reports that a person who is hypnotized is

  • Totally conscious.
  • Not asleep.
  • Very relaxed.
  • Not weakened.
  • Won’t do anything against their will.
  • Won’t reveal any secrets.
  • Is in control of their behavior. 2

It’s been suggested that the effectiveness of hypnosis for alcoholism treatment might depend on a number of things.

  • How long the patient has abused alcohol.
  • The level or degree of alcoholism.
  • The effectiveness of any prior hypnosis.
  • How suggestible the patient is.
  • The quantity of alcohol consumed.
  • Whether drinking is alone or with others.
  • How committed the patient is to abstinence. 3

Hypnotherapists sometimes teach their clients how to hypnotize themselves. They believe that self-hypnosis for alcoholism can be helpful in overcoming urges to drink. This should help in reducing relapses.

Effectiveness of Hypnosis

Hypnosis has shown its ability to greatly influence a person’s perceptions and behaviors. Hypnotherapy is sometimes used to treat pain, anxiety and phobias. It’s also used to reduce irritable bowel syndrome. Evidence is encouraging for its possible value in treating anxiety, stress, hypertension and insomnia.

Hypnosis is widely used in treating nicotine addiction.The goal is smoking cessation. Unfortunately, the evidence is clear that it’s completely ineffective for this purpose. Hypnosis is no more effective on rates of quitting tobacco than no treatment at all.

Unfortunately, hypnosis fails to help people quit smoking. Thus, it should not be surprising that hypnosis for alcoholism is also ineffective. There is no scientific evidence that hypnosis for alcoholism helps alcoholics. It doesn’t help them either achieve sobriety or maintain it.


International Society for Hypnosis.
American Board of Medical Hypnosis.
British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis.
American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Australian Society of Hypnosis.
American Board of Psychological Hypnosis
European Society of Hypnotists.
American Hypnosis Board for Clinical Social Work.
Society for Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis

Readings on Hypnotherapy for Alcoholism

Abbott, N.C., et al. Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. Cochran Tobac Addict Group. Pubonline Oct 6, 2010.. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001008.

Floyd, A.S., et al. Alcoholism treatment outcome studies. Addict Behav, 1996, 21(4), 413-428.

Stoil, M.J. Problems in the evaluation of hypnosis in the treatment of alcoholism. J Sub Abuse Treat, 1989, 6(1), 31-35.

Wadden, T.A. and Penrod, J.H. Hypnosis in the treatment of alcoholism. Am J Clin Hypnos, 1981, 24(1), 41-47.

Webb, A.N., et al. Hypnotherapy for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, Cochrane Inflam Bowel Disease and Funct Bowel Disorders Group. Pub online Oct 17, 2007. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005110.pub2.

References on Hypnosis

1. Hypnosis as an Addiction Treatment.

2. Myths about Hypnosis.

3. Does Hypnosis Work For Alcoholism?