Addiction is a common problem across the world. People who become addicted to a substance or a behaviour depend on access to their addiction to feel okay. Addiction becomes a problem when it causes health or financial worries, or when it prevents a person from attending to other matters in life.
People can be addicted to alcohol, smoking, drugs, overeating, gambling, sex, pornography, exercise, gaming, the internet, texting and any number of other things. Being in love could be called one form of addiction. One on level, people seek addiction, as it offers a guaranteed way to feel good. For instance, many computer games are proudly marketed as “highly addictive.”
Advantages of Neuro Linguistic Programming to Help With Addiction Therapy & Treatment
People seek help such as addiction therapy and treatment when they recognise that their addiction is causing significant problems in their life, and they would like to stop but can’t. NLP offers methods that fall outside of the conventional range of therapies and treatments.
NLP training organisations such as the New Zealand based “Transformations” claim Neuro Linguistic Programming has several advantages over conventional therapies and techniques. It is a younger, newer and faster discipline than traditional psychotherapy, and can be cheaper and easier to access – especially online. Conventional therapies can envisage a person needing years of treatment to get to the root of their addiction problems; NLP therapies can aim to be effective in perhaps four or five sessions.
The famous 12-step programme utilized by Alcoholics Anonymous places reliance on a “greater power” or belief and trust in God to help the addict conquer their addiction. NLP does not involve religious beliefs, therefore it may be more appropriate for those who are uncomfortable with a religious approach.
What is Neuro Linguistic Programming & How Does it Work to Treat Addiction?
NLP is based on a belief that using language, people can programme themselves to behave in different ways. NLP therapists believe that neural pathways in the brain are mapped through, among other things, the use of language. By repeating certain phrases and carrying out certain changed behaviours at the same time, they claim neural pathways can be strengthened and new forms of behaviour can become more habitual than the old ones.
NLP practitioners recognise that a person will have sequentially different neural pathways relating to addiction. One pathway is the way of the part of the person that likes and relies on the addiction. Another pathway will be the way of the part of the person that is shamed, revolted, guilty or bored by the addiction.
How do NLP Practitioners Seek to Change Addictive Behaviours?
The NLP strategy involves encouraging the person to cultivate awareness and acceptance of both neural pathways, or parts of the self. Then the person is encouraged to consider which pathway they would like to strengthen, and why. The NLP therapist will then ask questions designed to lead the person repeatedly and with intent down their chosen path.
NLP therapist Richard Bolstad in his article “Transforming Recovery”, claims that people who use their methods are more likely to successfully conquer their addictions than those who follow confrontational therapies such as the Alcoholics Anonymous method. He interprets these therapies as classifying desire for the addiction as wholly “bad” and the desire for non-addiction wholly “good.” NLP practitioners claim this prevents people from acknowledging their addictive traits as a legitimate part of themselves.
Disadvantages of NLP in the Treatment of Addiction
Neuro Linguistic programming has arguably been more successfully applied in the areas of business, sales and interpersonal skills building than in the treatment of medically related conditions. Richard Bolstad admits in his article that NLP techniques may conquer an addiction but leave untouched possible underlying anxieties that could cause addiction to resurface.
NLP has been particularly influential in the area of life coaching, another young discipline with an emphasis on speed, effectiveness and changing surface behaviours. It can have appeal for those who would like to find solutions quickly and without involving too many other people.
Neuro Linguistic Programming is considered by some to be a pseudo-science. It does not rest on the same base of empirical research as other forms of therapy, and to be a practitioner does not require a degree or years of study. Due to these reasons and others, it is also cheaper and more accessible —- especially online — than a number of conventional therapies and treatments.
Some very recent research using techniques of brain imaging has in fact supported NLP’s claims to be able to strengthen and change neural pathways.