Overcoming addictions requires three basic approaches that work together:
1. Developing functional self-regulation
2. Controlling cravings and withdrawal
3. Modifying behaviors and lifestyle habits
Self-regulation is the continuous operation of body-mind processes that comprise our internal “housekeeping”: sleep/wake cycles, alertness and concentration, appetites, perceptual filters, moods, nervous system arousal (excitement, relaxation, anxiety, fight-or-flight response, pain and sensory modulation.)
We take this for granted, just as we might not notice other biological systems when they are functioning smoothly (e.g., digestion, immune response, skin healing).
But when self-regulation is compromised, a variety of symptoms appear for different people.
Addictions of all types involve self-regulation problems. The body and mind are thrown out of balance because of (and also resulting in) faulty self-regulation. Because of the discomfort, many people “self-medicate” in the attempt to regain comfort and subdue interfering sensations and symptoms. Regulatory functions as basic as sleep can go awry and cause impairment in self-control, judgment, anxiety, and behavior.
The fundamental solution to this problem is to repair and develop proper self-regulation. Fortunately, the human brain is able to do this when given the proper information in a structured training regimen. A most expedient method for accomplishing this is to train the brain using EEG neurofeedback. After a regimen of practice sessions playing computer games that modify brainwaves, the vast majority of people achieve highly improved self-regulation, resulting in symptom reduction or elimination and increased sense of well-being. The need for self-medication fades as functional self-regulation assumes prominence.
Controlling cravings and withdrawal
As anybody who has struggled with an addiction knows, cravings are the bane of conquering the temptation and destructive habit. Best intentions are laid to waste when cravings persistently return. The flip side of a craving is withdrawal—the extreme discomfort that ensues when the substance or behavior of choice is withheld.
All addictions are the result of unbridled anxiety that is not eliminated or controlled. The addictive substance or behavior is an attempt—temporarily successful—to mask the anxiety. Whether the addiction is to chocolate, alcohol, drugs, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors, the bottom line is that engaging in that substance or behavior temporarily relieves the driving anxiety. Withdrawal ensues when the anxiety returns, and the person experiences this state as a craving to relieve the discomfort; and so the vicious cycle continues.
Although addictions are complicated and do involve more complex interactions than anxiety, it is impossible to overcome an addiction without controlling the craving/withdrawal issue.
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and its most advanced version, Voice Technology (VT) are instrumental in eliminating cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and any negative emotion, thereby facilitating the conquest of the addictive cycle. The success rate of Voice Technology in eliminating negative emotions is consistently about 97%.
Using Voice Technology, I eliminate symptoms of anxiety, cravings, depression, and any negative emotion in minutes by phone. This frees my patients from the shackles of cravings and obsessive preoccupation with addictive compulsions. Once relieved of the oppressive need to satisfy the craving, people can exercise more choice and better judgment in overcoming addictions.
Modifying behaviors and lifestyle habits
Most treatment methods and rehabilitation programs for addictions focus solely on changing lifestyle habits and beliefs. In crises, a person may enter a facility or program to “detox” in order to eliminate the physiological determinants of the addiction. This is accomplished fairly quickly; what remains is the psychological syndrome of anxiety-based dependence on the addictive substance or behavior and the supporting lifestyle that justifies the belief that the person cannot reasonably live without it.
Behavior modification and lifestyle change methods are necessary to change addictive behaviors on an enduring basis. However, these approaches by themselves usually fail. (The recidivism rate for addictions is conservatively at least 50% and more realistically reaches 75%.) The low success rate of most programs is attributable to the failure to include and address self-regulation and anxiety/withdrawal.
Peer support and accountability systems are vital adjuncts, but they are poor substitutes for biological integrity. Once the person’s self-regulation is improved and stable and the tools for mastering anxiety and cravings are in place, the person is much less vulnerable to relapse, and the lifestyle changes that support sobriety and freedom of choice can exercise fuller impact on lasting change.
Behavior modification and lifestyle change approaches should optimally include knowledge and alteration of dietary habits, adaptive reinforcement schedules (to eliminate maladaptive habits and substitute adaptive behaviors), and changes in social patterns that influence the addictive culture and lifestyle.
A successful 3-pronged treatment method
Addictions are dependencies on some substance or activity that cause harm to, or interference with, a person’s life. The dependency is powered by the tranquilizing (i.e., anxiety masking) effect of the substance or activity. Addictions always originate from anxiety. All addictions are responses to relieving (or masking) anxiety. They also generate the belief that the addicted person cannot live without the necessary substance/object/behavior. Addictions also involve impairment to a person’s self-regulation functions that reinforce reliance on the addiction to sustain or emulate more comfortable body and mind experiences.
Consequently, the progression of addictions includes habits and lifestyles that reinforce and entrench the addicted person in destructive cycles.
Our successful treatment methods target all three domains that need correction and strengthening to overcome any addiction.