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Effects of Hypnosis on Substance Abuse Patients


Ronald Pekala and fellow researchers from the Biofeedback Clinic of the Coatesville VA Medical Center in Coatesville, PA, studied the effectiveness of a self-hypnosis protocol with chronic drug and alcohol patients in increasing self-esteem, improving affect, and preventing relapse against a control, a cognitive-behavioral (TCB), and a stress management (attention-placebo) group.

Participants were 261 veterans admitted to Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Programs (SARRTPs). Participants were assessed pre- and post-intervention, and at 7-week follow-up.


Relapse rates did not significantly differ across the 4 groups at follow-up; 87% of those contacted reported abstinence.

At follow-up, the participants in the 3 treatment conditions were asked how often they practiced with the intervention materials provided them. Practicing and minimal-practicing participants were compared against the control group for each of the 3 interventions via MANOVAs/ANOVAs. Results revealed a significant Time by Groups interaction for the hypnosis intervention, with individuals who played the self-hypnosis audiotapes "at least 3 to 5 times a week" at 7-week follow-up reporting the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups.

No significant effects were found for the CBT or stress management interventions. Regression analyses predicted almost two-thirds of the variance of who relapsed and who did not in the hypnosis intervention group.

Hypnotic susceptibility predicted who practiced the self-hypnosis audiotapes. The results suggest that hypnosis can be a useful adjunct in helping chronic substance abuse individuals with their reported self-esteem, serenity, and anger/impulsivity.

Citation: Pekala RJ, Maurer R, Kumar VK, Elliott NC, Masten E, Moon E, Salinger M. Self-hypnosis relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users: effects on self-esteem, affect, and relapse. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. 2004 April; 46 (4): pp. 281-97. Ronald.Pekala@med.va.gov



Posted: 10/14/2006

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