When it comes to substance abuse treatment, the method is usually less important than the results. Many holistic treatments such as equine therapy or art therapy might not seem like a suitable way to rid someone of their addiction on the surface, but the results prove otherwise.
Since every addict is different, there is no one blanket treatment that works for everyone, and addictions specialists are always looking for new ways to break through and help patients find peace in a sober life. One treatment that has emerged as a potentially effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is called EMDR Therapy.
What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR refers to “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing”. It is an integrative form of psychotherapy that has been effectively used to treat trauma, particularly PTSD. The therapy combines components of different types of treatment.
How It Came to Be
EMDR Therapy was created in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro. The discovery was made by chance, as Dr. Shapiro noticed how under certain conditions, eye movements reduced the intensity of disturbing thoughts. After studying this phenomenon scientifically, she published a report in the Journal of Traumatic Stress in 1989, detailing how EMDR helped treat victims of traumatic stress.
EMDR 101: The Basics
When someone suffers a traumatic event, it is as if the moment is frozen, and can easily be recalled with the same intensity later in life. The brain doesn’t process the information in the same way, so the sights and sounds and smells remain strong and intense, interfering with daily life, relationships, work, etc.
Although doctors and researchers aren’t completely certain what happens inside the brain during EMDR Therapy, the results have shown a direct effect on how the brain processes information. After EMDR sessions, the patient can have a traumatic event brought up, and will still remember it happened, but the same level of intensity isn’t there. Experts believe this type of therapy is close to what happens naturally during REM sleep, giving it a physiological base, with strong psychological benefits.
Typical Uses for EMDR Therapy
PTSD has been the primary condition for EMDR Therapy, but it has been used successfully for other conditions, including:
- Complex grief issues
- Dissociative disorders
- Panic attacks
- Performance anxiety
- Stress reduction
- Disturbing memories
- Sexual abuse
- Personality disorders
- Body dysmorphic disorders
Possible Connection to Substance Abuse Treatment
Although it hasn’t been explored in great detail, EMDR Therapy may have a place in substance abuse treatment in the future. Since trauma is often a significant part of an addict’s situation, adding EMDR to the treatment protocol could yield positive results. Quite often, patients receive a dual diagnosis of substance abuse along with depression, bipolar or PTSD, which fits right into line with the treatment.
EMDR consists of eight phases, and after stabilization and building up internal resources, trauma reprocessing takes place, which can be of great help to the struggling addict. It’s not uncommon for drug addicts or alcoholics to go through standard rehab, only to have a serious trauma blocking their road to success.
As more research and clinical application are done, EMDR Therapy could become a valuable asset and complementary treatment in the drug rehabilitation and recovery process. For more information about our holistic treatments including EMDR, contact us at Beachside Rehab today.