Rewiring the Brain to Overcome Addiction
By Melissa Tiers
Think of any addiction as a tenacious habit in the brain that creates a network of association—as some neuroscientists like to say, “the cells that ﬁre together, wire together.” What this means for an addiction is that each time you do the drug, drink the drink or engage in your addictive activity, you are strengthening those connections. Athletes will have thicker and denser neurons that are associated with the muscles used for their sport. London cab drivers have thicker neurons in the area of the brain associated with navigation and addicts have a more robust area devoted to the patterned response.
The more we reinforce the pattern the thicker and stronger the cluster of neurons becomes. And as that happens, it becomes much more difﬁcult to control them. But research in neuroscience tells us that the brain is malleable and capable of changing even the most ingrained patterns. So, each time you stop the craving, urge or the habituated feelings that lead to them, you are working to rewire the brain. And it’s easier than you think.
The basic protocol has three levels. First we arm people with the understanding of how habits are formed and changed in the brain. We give them six different techniques to stop cravings and more importantly, the emotions that lead to them. You will learn about the research that concludes that the best way to change the habit is to interrupt it and connect the neurons to those outside the network. So the techniques will offer relief from the cravings while systematically rewiring the habit. We will also learn the simplest way to neutralize external and internal triggers.
•Bi lateral stimulation
•Open focus brain
•Craving elimination anchor
•Vagus nerve stimulation
The second level of the protocol works to change the emotional impact of past traumas, associations, and the negative beliefs and emotions that many addicts carry around. There have been countless studies that point to early childhood trauma being one of the leading factors in addiction as well as mental and physical illness. The techniques and processes used are based on the research on memory reconsolidation. We target the emotional track of past traumas so the brain re encodes the memory differently which then makes it easier to heal and move on. You will also learn how to change and install positive beliefs and motivators.
•Three step reframe
•Time line techniques
•Belief change process through submodalities
•Meta pattern for triggers
•Family Resolution Process
The third level is about personal power. Teaching addicts to develop alternative strategies for reward. Based on the work around willpower and meaning making, we help them cultivate a new values hierarchy. We use hypnotic processes to go deeper into the underlying emotional narrative to create understanding and compassion.
•Wise advocate process
•Goal repetition technique
Helping addicts to change has a rippling effect throughout the family and community that makes the work far more rewarding and generative. I feel that learning the foundation of this protocol builds a skill set that can be adapted to ﬁt almost every client issue that shows up in your practice. Having the basic understanding of how the mind can change the brain will give a deeper insight into whatever ﬂavor of change work you use.
Melissa Tiers is founder of The Center for Integrative Hypnosis and has a private practice in NYC. She is an award-winning author, lecturer, life coach, hypnosis trainer, and creator of Integrative Hypnosis.
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