EMDR For Addiction Treatment

What Is EMDR Therapy?

A therapy option that is growing in popularity for treating symptoms of mental health conditions and substance abuse is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR. The phases of EMDR treatment are primarily designed to help ease trauma-produced side effects that cause the suffering of many Americans.

During the therapy session, the EMDR certified therapist typically has the patient reflect on the specifics of a traumatic experience that has shown to cause the most stressful and emotional reaction. This is done all while following the therapist’s hand motions with their eyes.

 

The therapist would typically use their fingers to move back and forth during this procedure. The patient then attempts to follow these movements using only their eyes. The rapid eye movements are broken down into saccadic eye movements. Meaning they are somewhat jerky and quick movements that are intended to alter the patient’s line of sight in an attempt to stabilize the vision with the moving object. 

 

EMDR specialists claim that when incorporating these movements while reflecting on past trauma-causing events, patients then have the ability to change how the experience is processed. Patients are also then able to regain control of the emotional response intensity, even with the emotions of greater severity. 

Phases of EMDR Therapy Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the leading cause of individuals looking into newer treatment options, leading them to the discovery of EMDR therapy treatment. To treat PTSD symptoms, the American Psychiatric Association explains how EMDR therapy is comprised of a structured approach with eight phases. They include:

Phase 1 – Treatment planning

Phase 2 – Client preparation

Phase 3 – Establishing the target memory

Phase 4-7 – Memory processing to adaptive resolutions

Phase 8 – Assessing the results that developed from the treatment 

EMDR is similar and often compared to a couple of other treatments that are known to directly focus on the altering of thoughts, responses, and other emotions that are the result of a traumatic event. EMDR therapy focuses directly on traumatic memories and other negative thoughts. From there, the treatment is meant to change the way that the memories are stored in the future. This process has proven to reduce the intensity of many common post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

There are a couple of certified drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers like Shoreline Recovery in San Diego that provide forms of EMDR that specifically help with an individual’s addiction recovery process. If you think EMDR is something that may help you or someone you love, make sure to be on the lookout for it. Sometimes, finding the right rehab is all about finding the proper treatment.

How EMDR Works To Treat Addiction

Studies have shown that people are more often likely to become exposed to addictive substances as a result of desperately looking for some relief and to replace the negative emotions produced by some kind of traumatic experience.

 

The use of EMDR therapy may not be an ideal method of treatment for individuals who need an opioid for an injury that had occurred. There are still ways to benefit from the therapy if there is any evidence of addiction memory. Addiction memory is considered a drug-specific memory of the drug’s effects or a time when the individual experienced a loss of control.

 

EMDR and addiction treatment actually have deep roots that coincide with each other. This is because of the fact that many substance use disorders and addictions are tied to a past traumatic or disturbing event. The primary purpose of treating this type of trauma is so the patient will feel less urgency towards using addictive substances like drugs and alcohol.

 

Certified EMDR therapists typically approach the addictions they see within their patients from more of a trauma-based perspective. Doing this paves the way for them to carefully examine each case, which makes it significantly easier to search for and identify the main contributing factors of maintaining the addiction. Because of this, EMDR therapy treatment is able to play the vital role of being an effective treatment method for addiction recovery.

There is a large number of people who struggle with substance use disorders that also express the signs and symptoms necessary for a PTSD diagnosis. For this reason alone, it can be why EMDR therapy should be the preferred choice that can help patients significantly reduce risks and prevent relapse.

Who Benefits From EMDR Treatment

After extensive testing and research, EMDR therapy treatment methods have been proven to help reduce side-effects in adults of all ages, including many children using bilateral stimulation techniques. The high success rates and the unlikelihood of developing additional symptoms when treating for many mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, are causing the popularity of EMDR therapy to grow.

When recommending EMDR therapy treatment options, the goal is to address those challenges at the root of the individual’s failing mental health state. Many of which often vary in difficulty.

Below are a few commonly associated disorders that EMDR is seen regularly implemented as the first option for treatment:

  • Treating PTSD
  • Stress-induced skin occurrences
  • Addiction and substance use disorders
  • Pain-induced suffering
  • Medical complications, such as chronic illnesses
  • Sexual assault
  • Fatigue and other negative physical sensations
  • Bipolar and other depressive disorders
  • Violence, along with verbal and physical abuse
  • Personality disorders
  • Panic disorder
  • Loss of a friend or family member and grief
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Phobias
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-esteem and confidence issues
  • Performance anxiety

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