Stress is a major risk factor in substance abuse and relapse to drug or alcohol addiction. It is very important that we address stress, fear and past traumas to prepare you for successful recovery and provide you with powerful tools to live a sober life.
Stress is a normal and inevitable part of life, however, stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or rest between challenges. Stress that goes unresolved can lead to mental health problems like anxiety disorders, depression and substance use disorders.
A large part of Core Belief Restructuring focuses on managing the body’s biological fight-or-flight stress response. Our addiction treatment programs are unique in that graduates are well trained in navigating the physical discomfort of fight-or-flight that occurs in the body. This skill is a key tool that helps clients to deal with stress and prevent relapse.
As part of our comprehensive and integrated treatment at The Exclusive, we specifically use two additional modalities to manage stress and to reduce fear. These are neural tapping like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
Neural Tapping / EFT
Neural tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a type of energy psychology that is very effective in managing stress. It involves rhythmic finger tapping on acupressure points. This has the ability to reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. It’s called tapping because you’re literally tapping on end points of meridians of the body.
Meridians are energy pathways that flow within the body in corresponding pairs on the left and right sides of the body. Each meridian has many acupuncture points along its path.
When we tap on the end points of the meridians, we send a calming signal to the amygdala in the brain. The amygdala is the fight-or-flight center, the stress part, of the brain.
During a tapping session you identify a problem or issue you want to work on and focus on this issue in your mind like stress, anxiety, overwhelm, panic, and limiting beliefs in addition to talking about the issue. During this intentional exposure to the issue, you will stimulate (or the EFT therapist will stimulate) the end points of the body’s energy meridians through tapping.
The 12 EFT tapping points are mostly on the face, head, hands, wrists, upper arms and shoulders. As you can see, EFT combines elements of Cognitive Therapy and Exposure Therapy with Acupressure.
EFT is helpful in alleviating:
- eating disorders like dysfunctional overeating
- side effects when quitting smoking
- food cravings
- video game addiction
- pain management
At The Exclusive Addiction Treatment Center, EFT or neural tapping is done in a small group setting of tapping together. The session is led by a skilled EFT therapist. EFT is a technique that can be learned and acquired as a skill to be used when stress arise in the future, as part of a self-care regimen and as a relapse prevention tool.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a powerful tool for trauma resolution which is carefully integrated into our addiction treatment program at The Exclusive. Its function is to address unresolved trauma in the client. These shifts on the perspectives of past traumas play a significant role in addiction recovery.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed by Francine Shapiro in 1987 to relieve the distress associated with traumatic memories. How it works is that the EMDR clinician will assess which traumatic memory in you to target first. The therapist will ask you to recall different aspects of the event and to hold it in mind as the therapist’s hand is moving back and forth across your field of vision. As this is happening you are tracking the therapist’s hand with your eyes.
The repeated redirection of attention or focus by following the finger/hand with your gaze brings about a neurobiological state that is similar to REM sleep. REM sleep is optimally configured to process traumatic memories and to integrate these memories. The integration of these memories bring about a dramatic improvement to the meaning of painful events as they become transformed quite rapidly on an emotional level.
Generally EMDR treatment happens in eight phases and involves attention to three time periods: the past, present and future. Traumatic past events that have laid the groundwork for fear are processed and new associations are created in the mind. Present triggers that cause distress are focused upon and internal and external triggers are desensitized. Finally visualizations of and imaginary future events are created to help the client adapt to normal responses to triggers.
Studies have shown that EMDR:
- is very effective in resolving traumatic memories
- significantly reduces PTSD symptoms
- decreases depression symptoms
- can improve self-esteem dramatically
- works more rapidly than psychotherapy in addressing trauma
EMDR, PTSD and Substance Abuse
Recovering from a dual diagnosis of PTSD and an addictive disorder demands an intensive treatment protocol. Our clinical team may design a program that includes EMDR more heavily with PTSD co-occurring. Our programs are highly customized for each individual and adapted during treatment to further accommodate the reality that is unfolding for you.
Since PTSD is a risk factor for substance abuse, bringing repressed memories to the surface for processing and integration is imperative. Our trained and highly experienced EMDR therapist will guide and assist you to resolution and relief from haunting memories. This shift will naturally bring less yearning for substances to escape these memories.