Altered states of consciousness: Trance as an adaptive coping mechanism for chemically dependent people

Cheryl Krupnick-McClure (1994)

There is a considerable amount of research showing that chemically dependent people tend to use substances in order to reduce tension and improve their mood. Newer research suggests that addicts use alcohol and other drugs in order to obtain an altered state of consciousness (ASC). In general, ASC possess healing and adaptive functions which addicts could benefit from by learning different ways of achieving a drug free ASC. There are many natural routes people can take to achieve an ASC including relaxation and hypnosis. This study examined the effectiveness of hypnosis as compared to relaxation exercises in reducing anxiety and improving mood. It showed that hypnosis is more effective in reducing anxiety and improving the mood of chemically dependent people when hypnotic susceptibility was taken into account. It also showed that the "high" addicts experience when using psychoactive substances is similar to the high they experience when in an ASC from hypnosis. Moreover, it showed that the people who engaged in group hypnotherapy felt a sense of mastery and competence. Based on these results, it is recommended that hypnosis be used as an adjunctive and/or alternative treatment strategy for chemically dependent people.