Clinical Hypnotherapist
Certified Master Hypnotist
Handwriting Analyst

I was in the supermarket the other day talking to a very bright young man behind the deli counter who was extremely interested in the benefits of Hypnotherapy. We talked about relationships, communication and behaviors, when he asked if Hypnotherapy was any good when it came to addictions. I said it was, and then proceeded to tell him how Hypnotherapy could help an addict with their compulsion to drink, do drugs, smoke and so on.

A lady who was also at the counter interrupted and said that she had been an alcoholic for 20 years and knew the damage it was doing to her but that she could not stop. Did I have any suggestions?

I did.

I suggested to her that she find a botanical garden. When she finds it to go to the cacti in the garden and sit and look at them for three hours.

I know that this sounds a little weird, but I happen to know that this is a suggestion that works. I also said to her that while she is looking at the cacti to ask herself a question. The question was, “How is it that a cactus can go up to three years without a drop of water?” I gave her my card, and asked her to call me after she had done what I suggested.

Much to my surprise she called me late in the afternoon two days later. I asked her again how I could help and she told me the following:

“I went to the Getty and sat in their cactus garden, and asked myself the question that you suggested. All I could come up with was, because they can”

I said to her that she had her answer. She said that last night was the first night in many years that she had not had a drink, and, as far as I know she is still clean and sober.

The bottom line here is that she was a person who accepted information on an inferential basis so literal instruction would have been wasted on her, as she has the kind of mind that needs inference so that she can “mull” over what is said to her and come to the meaning of what was being said.

In this case she picked up on the inference really well and realized that if a cactus can go “dry” for three years, and it was a simple plant with no consciousness, then she as a thinking human being can decide to quite or do whatever she wants. Case closed.

In the end, addictions of any kind can be resolved in a simple fashion. Nancy Reagan was berated when she suggested to any addict that the answer to their addiction was to “Just say no.” This solution was criticized by many as just to darned simplistic. However a whole advertising campaign was built around this simple phrase.

I happen to agree with Nancy Reagan on this issue. The answer to any addiction is simply to say no.

Any alcoholic or drug addict who has any kind of sobriety for any length of time will tell you that breaking an addiction is extremely difficult and boils down to the simple choice of will I or will I not use today. It is as simple as that and yet changing ones habit patterns is the area that is difficult.

Everyone feels comfortable in their routines (comfort zones) and most of their behaviors, which were learned and set by the time they were 12 years old, can be very hard to change without some help.

I have suggested in prior articles that you are able to change a habit pattern and I gave the example of your house keys. When we all get home we have a certain place where we set our keys or bag when we come in the door. We do it without even thinking about it, in the same way, an addict will continue with their habit because it is just that, a learned behavior.

The idea here is to try something different. So the next time that you go home, consciously place your keys or bag in a different spot. Then place your keys or bag in the same “new” spot every time you come home for the next 21 days. For the first 7 days you will have to remind yourself to do it, and in some cases, put the keys or bag in the old spot, and then remember later what you were supposed to do and then go back and do it.

For the second 7 days you will do it on some days and have to remind yourself on others. The third week you will be doing it pretty much automatically, and after 21 days you will not even think about it at all, but simply be placing your keys or bag in the new spot.
You have now created a new habit.

So it is with addicts. In rehab they spend time detoxifying and in discussion groups, to talk about the pressures that they were experiencing that led them to their using. In addition they receive support from other addicts who have or are experiencing the same problems and share a common bond of understanding as to what each was going through in their addictions. The idea here is to allow the addict to understand that it is ok to “feel” and ok to admit their addictions and that they are not alone with their problem.

They are also kept occupied so that they do not have time to dwell on their desire for their drug of choice, but are being given to opportunity to learn different skills and habits to assist them in living drug or alcohol free in the real world.

The fact of the matter is that in rehab they are removed from access to drugs and alcohol, but the moment they leave rehab they are able to meet up with their old friends and dealers or to walk into any number of stores that sell liquor. They are able to fall back into their old habits extremely easily, and unfortunately many do.

Those who don’t fall back to their old habits and who enjoy many years of sober living all agree that it was as simple as just saying no.

Here is a case in point. I was with a couple of friends at a restaurant bar recently. They were on their dinner hour and had decided to go and have a drink. They asked what I wanted and I said a club soda. They looked at me with mock shock and horror, and tried to convince me to have a drink, which I politely declined. I explained that as I get older alcohol just puts me to sleep, and, as I was driving a long distance home, that drinking was not a good idea. They both said that they lived further away than I did and it was ok for them. I said that was ok for them too, but I choose not to drink right now. I just said no.

The funny part to this was, that after one friend had left to go back to his job, the other friend, (by now a little tipsy from 2 martinis) proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes justifying his drinking and saying that by the time he is ready to drive home the alcohol will have metabolized in his system and that he will be completely sober. (I wonder if he gave a thought to how the alcohol was going to affect his job performance)

Each addict has the ability to justify their own behaviors, just as we all do, but for them their fight to quit requires more than lip service but a determination to be clean and sober, and, as the days of sobriety mount the determination builds to gain 30 days, 60 days, one year and so on, and, as the time lengthens their pride in their accomplishment grows their improved life style continues to improve and their desire to use diminishes. They become “high” on life and what it has to offer as well as the rewards of their own hard work.

Twelve step programs off this prayer as a help:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom, to know the difference.

I would like to offer an alternative:

I don’t have to quit forever.
I can use tomorrow if I want to
All I have to do is not use today.
I can do anything for this one day
Nothing will be too much for me
I can even break the day down into each of its 24 hours
If the struggle to be clean and sober demands it.
I focus on just one hour at a time
I am able to survive 60 minutes at a time without using.
How freeing it is for me realize I only have to quit using for today
I am doing whatever I need to, to live without using today.

This is another version of the much shorter “One day at a time” slogan, which as all 12 steppers know can also read one second, one minute or one hour at a time.

Addictions severely damage our path to success, happiness and prosperity, and, I encourage you to remember a phrase that my father once said to me:

“Everything in moderation. Including moderation”

Thanks for letting me share.

Author's Bio: 

Nicholas Pollak CHt
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Certified Master Hypnotist,
Handwriting Analyst
Since 1991
CALL: 310.204.3321

Nick is a Motivational Speaker, Published Author and is Located in Los Angeles, California, and may be contacted by email at:
or by phone at 310.204.3321.

I received my certifications in August of 1991graduating with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, Tarzana, California, the first and only nationally accredited school for hypnosis in the United States.

The Hypnosis Motivation Institute requires over 600 hours of accelerated education for certification. I am also a Certified Master Hypnotist.

I was born and raised in London, England. I left England and traveled extensively in Europe, followed by 2yrs in Israel, 8 yrs in Australia and, as of now 26 yrs in America.

I have been A Customer Service manager in 2 different companies in Australia, achieving these positions as a result of my hard work from entry level positions.

I was Top salesman of the year, two years in a row with GTE Australia, Yellow Pages. Winning a total of 15 major sales awards.

Top Marketing representative responsible for sales income of $12.5 mill to FHP (A medical Insurance Company) here in California.

A videotape editor and technician for CBS Television City for 13 years. Having worked numerous live shows, such as Big Brother, The Price is Right, American Idol as well as being the technician responsible for rolling prime time pre-taped shows, and formatting the shows for air.

My work experience has been wide and varied, which emphasises the fact that any one can enter a field of which they have no knowledge and create their own success within it, as my results have constantly shown.

In 1994 I had a severe and debilitating back condition which required major surgery. My recovery time was significantly faster than the Doctor’s had anticipated and my expected side effects of weakness and loss of feeling were significantly less than the Doctors had anticipated.

Both the Doctor and I absolutely attribute the great recovery to my self-hypnosis.

That same year I also had a major heart condition, which in fact left me clinically dead for 3 minutes.

Again my recovery time using self-hypnosis was much faster than the doctors anticipated.

I am always amazed at what people can do as a result of a little Hypnotherapeautic "push" to assist anyone to resolve their issues.

Becoming a Hypnotherapist in 1991 was the best thing that I ever did, as it allows me the continual opportunity to be of service to others and to help and to motivate people.

I have also had excellent results in general practice dealing with any and all issues presented to me by my clients.

I have had great success in assisting people to understand their behaviors, assisting them with habit control, panic and Anxiety, weight loss, nail biting, positive visualization, motivation, as well as many other issues.

People are amazing and can do absolutely anything they set their minds to, and I am always thrilled to be a part of that discovery.

By applying the techniques learned at The Hypnosis Motivation Institute I have helped many clients from wide and varied walks of life to a happier, more healthy and successful life.

My practice is based on my assisting YOU to gain the vocational or avocational changes YOU want.

Servicing Culver City, Mar Vista, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles