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Therapeutic Help With Drugs in Bristol and Bath 

Do you want to stop using drugs? Help with smoking weed? Cocaine problem? Want to stop using pills and powders? Help is available in Bristol and Bath to help you take control.

 

Drugs are a part of youth culture in the UK.  The days of being shocked because someone is smoking a joint or snorting a line in the toilets are long gone. When I was growing up, we were told that cocaine was as addictive and as destructive as heroin and that it would almost certainly kill you if you got hooked. Today, cocaine is a very common recreational drug. We might regard those early sensationalist public service broadcasts today with a certain amount of amusement, but has drug taking in the UK become so commonplace that we are now desensitised to the pitfalls? Have we gone so far into acceptance that we are now blinkered to the very real possibility that drugs can become a problem for us? Within this "anything goes" culture of drug acceptance, sometimes even extreme patterns of drug use can be seen as quite normal. In this context it's all too easy to develop a problem without even knowing you have one! Problems begin with bumpy rides easily laughed off but when you start to really hurt it's sensible to do something about it!

 

 

When the pain outweighs the gain then it's time to get serious about change!

When the "high times" dream comes crashing down, it's foolish to ignore the signs. If your dream has become a nightmare, then it's time to get serious about change! I have elsewhere on this site already covered "addiction" issues in the alcohol and addiction section, but I wanted to address specifically this issue of recreational drug misuse since it is so prevalent. If you have arrived at this page because you have anxiety or depression caused by using drugs then you may wish to visit my sister site at www.anxietyspecialist.co.uk 

So why do you keep wanting to do drugs even though you also want to give them up?

It's Friday night. Eleven pm and your mate offers you some coke or pills. You've had a few drinks. What do you see before you? PLEASURE. Plain and simple. Pleasure. That's the promise. The problem is, the part of your brain that deals with all your "habitual" responses (the limbic system) is in fact a very primitive mind which tries to re-create the pleasures of the past. So at the moment of choice you are logically hardly involved in the decision IF you leave it up to your limbic system to decide for you. Your limbic system makes the choice for you based on emotion rather than logic. The limbic system also opts for "immediate gratification" over long term goals given the opportunity. That means that if it looks gratifying right now then "just say yes" is the only answer the limbic system knows. The Frontal Lobe (your more advanced thinking brain) however can think longer term. The Frontal Lobe is key to planning. Planning means looking ahead and being able to stop giving in to immediate gratification in favour of a longer term goal. In order to lose 10lbs I need to say no to the passing pleasure of the cream cake. The principle is the same whether we're talking cake or coke! This is why there is conflict and being in "two minds". It's your limbic system that wants you to carry on using drugs. It's your frontal lobe that reminds you that you have longer term goals.....like having a life that doesn't involve feeling like you're in another dimension for three days after every weekend.

False Positives (a Wolf in Sheep's clothing)

Your limbic system is sending you a false positive based on an expectation of your very best drug experiences. Nudge, nudge....gamble. Your limbic system remembers the best of all pleasures and tells you to go for it. The problem is, it's not a true picture any more. Not only does the body and brain develop a "tolerance" to drugs, meaning that the more you take the less effectively and pleasurably they work, you also can recognise that YOU are different. You have different needs and different aspirations than you did when you started using. Perhaps you've simply grown up and decided that you don't see yourself as a drug user any more. Whatever. The limbic system is accessing a way outdated file and the information is now highly inaccurate. The promise of pleasure is often misguided. What actually happens is that the experience is mediocre but the anxiety, depression, paranoia and discomfort that follows is awful. We need to get your limbic system to recognise this as a fact at the point of choice so that when you think of using a drug, you remember clearly and accurately what a real expectation of outcome looks like. In possession of the facts registered emotionally as well as logically you can easily decide that "no thanks" is a better response. 

How do you stop using drugs?

Well, first of all, the pre-requisite for the treatment of all habitual or addictive patterns is that you have to really want, or need, to stop. Both wanting and needing to stop using drugs will provide us with the necessary leverage to get the job done, but if you want to stop that's even better. It's okay if there's a little conflict. We expect that. If there wasn't you wouldn't have a problem. You'd just stop. Some people do exactly this without any therapeutic help. Our job is to help resolve that conflict, but it helps enormously if you've decided that you want to change your life. As with all the treatments for addictive behaviours, we need to take a look at the environment in which the habit/behaviour thrives. For most people that means ensuring that your needs generally are being met. If using drugs is your only outlet or hobby, then we'll explore alternative activities that you can engage with to fill the gap. Likewise if there is any self medication (meaning you're doing drugs to numb the pain) going on, then we'd want to address whatever discomfort is causing the need to self-medicate. We recognise that environment plays a massive role in drug use and it is necessary to change the environment in which the drug use thrives. This invariably involves courageous action. If all your friends use drugs every weekend, you have some hard choices to make. Either you find new drug free friends to be with for a while or you find some way of integrating with those people in a drug free way. In some cases this is manageable. In others it is not. There are certain circumstances where the only sensible option is to leave the drug focused environment completely. To stay in that environment is like putting a parched man in a lake and telling him he mustn't drink. How long will he last? This is a choice only you can make but ultimately it may be a choice you have to make if you want to change. Maybe one or two of your friends will make the change with you? Speak to them. They might be as desperate to change as you are but too afraid to mention it or you might even inspire them to start thinking about it.

How can hypnotherapy help me to stop using drugs? 

Essentially, we'd meet. I'd find out a bit about your lifestyle and circumstances and find out exactly what you see as a solution. I will within reason work with you to help you achieve your goals. That might be complete abstinence or it may be that you have other wishes. Providing your request is realistic I will gladly work with you to achieve it. In most cases however, abstinence is the best option, because no matter how well intended you are, anything less just sends the message to the unconscious mind that the behaviour is still okay with you....which presumably, if you're seeking help....it's not! We'd have you complete a life audit and I would get you to take a small workbook away with you to complete following the consultation ready for our first session. The workbook asks you some poignant questions about your relationship to drugs and is designed to help you truly clarify what you have to gain and lose by changing your drug use behaviours. Our life audit would tell us whether there are any seriously unmet life needs. We'd need to work on ways to have those needs met first and foremost. If you leave a big need unmet and drugs are to hand guess what's going to fill it? This is what would dictate the length of therapy. If there are lots of unmet needs then we might need a number of sessions to work through that. Otherwise we get straight on with the business of changing the  pattern. We don't need things to be perfect, just okay. So now we have all the information we need to make change happen. 

Here's how it works. Hypnotherapy is all about hooking desirable emotional and physical responses to suggested cues. In actual fact, all of life works this way. It's called "conditioning". You become conditioned in life to respond to certain things in certain ways and those responses are/become automatic. Your unconscious mind (limbic system) provides those responses. Anxiety works in the same way. If you have a fear of spiders, then when you see a spider your limbic system releases fear. With addictive processes the same rationale is at work but instead of fear you experience desire because the promise is one of pleasure, not danger. It's the same part of the brain that responds...the amygdala...a gland within the limbic system.

Consider what you know of hypnosis from the TV. Although there is a lot you probably won't know about how those shows are put together to make them sensational, the basic premise that we can attach a "command" if you like to a "cue" is pretty much how it works. So, the hypnotist says "When I touch my nose, you'll start feeling really wonderful and you suddenly feel a strong need to tell everyone how great you feel!" Now don't be alarmed by this. What  you are not told when you watch these shows is that it only works because the participant WANTS it to work, not because the hypnotist holds any special power. It is a state of deep imaginative involvement which allows the participant to become more suggestible. These kinds of associations are occurring all the time. In fact the hypnotic suggestion (no hypnosis is required incidentally because it's already "believed" by you before you take it....that's why you keep taking it!) when your friend offers you a line/a pill/a joint  is "When you take this "X" you'll feel wonderful". What would happen if we were to change that suggestion? In hypnotherapy we take you into hypnosis and anchor everything you hate about being involved with drugs to a single point which you experience as a deep knowing that it's simply something you no longer want to feel. We then use suggestion to change the "command". Instead of responding to the offer of drugs with the feeling "This will make me feel wonderful", we instead attach that deep knowing of what a disappointing experience drugs are for you now, to that offer. Of course it is tailored individually for you but it goes something along the lines of 

"Should you ever be offered another drug you'll be immediately reminded right down to the core of who you are that you get much more when you say "no thanks". You know without any doubt whatsoever that any desire you might feel to say yes to drugs is a false positive signal....an outdated file with incorrect information which means nothing to you now....... You remember absolutely how miserable you feel as a result of taking drugs and because you know that taking drugs creates misery you feel proud and pleased to say "no thanks"......AND what's more...you remember absolutely how great it feels to be in control of your life when you say "no thanks!"....knowing that when you wake up in the morning you feel amazing because you have control and you're choosing what you REALLY want...... health, wellbeing, and control....and that feels great!" 

This and many other messages which are tailored individually for you are embedded through the hypnotherapeutic process in your subconscious mind so that they become "automatic" associations. That is, commands on cue. or in hypnotherapy language, post-hypnotic suggestions, meaning suggestions that become active at a certain "cue" point. In this case, being offered drugs.  In practice what this means is that you simply will not respond in the same way you used to. A flag has been placed at that situation. You still have choice. Hypnosis cannot remove choice, but your unconscious mind will jump to attention because it recognises the situation and reminds you to feel good about saying "No thanks". Then it's easier to do the right thing without feeling the conflict. In other words we have the limbic system support you with positive feelings and associations instead of fighting you by pulling you in the opposite direction to the one you want to go in. Then change is much easier. There is science at work here. Through repetition; the use of hypnotic positive visualisation, and the removal of any psychological obstacles we have all we need to achieve success. The process still requires your mindfulness, some application between sessions, and a continued willingness to change, but in essence that's how it works. In practice, with time permitting,  we often introduce many other techniques and tools to help you stay firmly in control, to tolerate any discomfort (after all we need to be able to tolerate a little discomfort to make a change like this) and to stay focused on why it's important to you to make the change. Remember, I don't tell you what you "should" or "should not" do. I simply help you to achieve what YOU want to. So you won't be judged or told what to do. I will ask you what you want to achieve and we work together to get the job done.

Obviously what's written here is therefore by no means exhaustive. It's just the essence of it, but it gives you a nice clear idea of the mechanics of hypnotherapy as a powerful tool for busting addictive behaviours. Does it work?  Yes. It is simply capitalising and intensifying the mental, emotional, and cognitive systems that we naturally use to make changes. Do I guarantee success? No. Why? Well firstly, it's in every good hypnotherapy associations code of conduct that cures should not be guaranteed, but perhaps more importantly it's because you are the only one who can do that. I'm clear that with application and the desire to succeed, it can be done, but ultimately it's a choice you make. I simply provide you with the tools and the expertise to work through the change with your subconscious mind on your side and a nice thorough understanding of HOW to achieve the change. I can tell you though, hand on heart, that I do enjoy a great deal of success with people using this approach and often we make relatively short work of it....3-5 sessions on average. If there is a lot of sorting out to do generally (generalised anxiety/ unmet needs etc) we may need more sessions. I provide a personalised idea of treatment length expectation at the consultation once I have an understanding of your personal situation. 

I do offer a free initial consultation with a view to beginning treatment, but do ask that you only book this if you are serious about making a change. Uncertainty is okay, but success is dependent on your willingness to engage with the programme robustly. 

This programme is not suitable for severe hard drug users/addicts. Heavy regular opiate (heroin), crack cocaine, and methamphetamine use requires medical intervention and you should approach your GP, the Bristol Drugs Project or local social services for help. This programme IS suitable for people who use drugs recreationally and would like some help in establishing control/abstinence.