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What is EMDR and
How Does It Treat Addiction?

Treat Addiction

It may sound too good to be true, eye movement can help treat the root causes of your drug addiction disorder. Yet, it's true, new research into EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing has shown a direct link between eye movement and traumatic memories. It's already well known that during a sleep phase known as REM sleep (rapid eye movement) we process the most amount of memories and information compared to any other phase of sleep. The basic principle is that by talking about and accessing a difficult memory, the therapist can help the patient perform eye patterns that also access the memory part of the brain and thus access difficult memories while not promoting a strong emotional response.

Most notably EMDR has been shown to help those suffering from past abusive relationships and PTSD, which are both major factors that cause people to form a drug addiction disorder in the first place. In fact, research suggests that half of those suffering from PTSD also have a substance abuse disorder that they will admit to. It's also worth noting that PTSD can result from any traumatic life experience, not just from war. With that being said, since EMDR treats the root cause of the drug addiction it can not only help the patient get clean now but also prevent further relapse in the future. Nearly 40-60% of substances abuse patients relapse after drug recovery treatment.

How EMDR can treat drug addiction

There are 8 phases to EMDR that a trained therapist will employ to help you treat the root cause of your substance abuse. Phase 1 includes therapy sessions to identify your emotional distress into something definitive and tangible. Phase 2 entails using imagery and other self-relaxation techniques to calm any negative emotions associated with the memories. In phases 3-6 the therapist will have the patient imagine vivid visuals while also addressing their negative emotional states.

These phases tie in the rapid eye movement with past trauma and therefore promote further processing of the trauma while keeping the patient relatively calm and relaxed. The last two phases (7-8) help the patient return to a state of calm and form a better sense of control over the memories. The therapist will work with the patient in real-time to find which relaxation techniques work best to return to a sense of calm. This process may be repeated several times during a session and many sessions may be needed. Either way, EMDR will help you process negative emotions and memories and therefore aid in the process of beating your drug addiction disorder.

Alongside negative memories and emotions, EMDR can also help address memories associated with the drugs themselves. Research has shown that EMDR can help process and purge memories of drug addiction making it easier for the patient to be honest with themselves and to purge feelings of pleasure derived from drug use. Therefore, long-term recovery has a greater chance of success in those who receive EMDR.

Finding EMDR treatment

Since the initial breakthrough of EMDR, more and more drug rehabilitation centers have begun offering treatment. If your or someone close is suffering from an unhealthy drug addiction problem, it may be time to consider reaching out to a center like The Process Recovery Center for a consultation. Either way, if you are unsure about EMDR or would like to discuss drug addiction recovery in general, reach out and find comfort in knowing that an entire team of trained and experienced professionals is waiting for you to take the first step.


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