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How to stop self-medicating

Whether it’s a glass of wine to unwind after work, over-snacking when the day hasn’t gone to plan, or a smoke with friends, we are a society that consumes to relax.


A glass of wine sitting on a wooden table


Why do we feel we need these substances? 


Reasons that clients often share with me are that these substances can help make them feel more socially comfortable or chatty, or help them to relax, or to feel part of a tribe - that youth-chasing feeling.  


Another reason that people self-medicate is to help them forget their problems. But does that really work?


Suppressing emotional feelings can feel good at surface level but the truth is that the problems are still there and not being dealt with. Suppressing emotions can increase physical stress on our body and our likelihood of anxiety and depression. 


Tips to stop self-medicating


Channeling our negative emotions through exercise has enormous benefits. Doing an online yoga session, or taking a kickboxing class to let off steam and exercise is much better than blowing up at your boss or your partner during a stressful period. 


Improving self-esteem and self-compassion can help reduce compulsive behaviours, using hypnosis, positive affirmations and specific techniques to change past thoughts and behaviours.  


Other people prefer to meditate to help calm their minds. Hypnosis, as part of hypnotherapy, is extremely useful for helping people to relax, reduce pain and anxiety, especially if there are repressed traumatic events, or stuff that doesn't naturally come up to the surface. 


Understanding your triggers and finding techniques to change your responses to those triggers can also be helpful. Verbal and non-verbal anchors are really useful techniques to reinforce a desired emotion or response at the peak of a trigger.


Another useful way to stop self-medicating is to understand how the brain works. As hypnotherapists, we use neuroscience to explain that the brain encourages habitual behaviour, creating a false narrative that self-medicating is a good thing, helping you rather than hindering you.


Some of us have a hard time expressing certain emotions because of the way we were raised. Anger doesn't feel acceptable to some people. Hypnosis can help to relieve anger and to change the trigger thoughts, while also anchoring positive emotions to help in certain problematic situations. And no matter what the negative emotions are, hypnosis can help to boost self-esteem which will naturally lead to more positive perceptions of the world and the challenges that life brings.


How effective is hypnotherapy as an addiction treatment?


While conventional methods are helpful for medical detox and treatment, there are many different ways to address addiction and hypnotherapy has good success rates. It can help to change addictive behaviour, boost emotional health and lessen mental withdrawal symptoms. 


Further resources




If you’d like support with how to stop self-medicating, please contact me for a chat.


Tamsin Denbigh runs a Wedmore clinic on Fridays and is online via Zoom on weekday evenings.


To book a session or a free discovery call, please text Tamsin on 07917 786251, visit www.tamsindenbighhypnotherapy.com or email hello@tamsindenbighhypotherapy.com.


Alternatively find Tamsin Denbigh Hypnotherapy on Facebook and Instagram.

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