How EMDR Therapy Works For Addiction: Can It Help Overcome Addiction?

EMDR For Addiction

For many facing addiction, the idea of getting help can feel overwhelming. It’s normal to be scared or unsure about taking that first step toward healing. Addiction is complicated, and it takes bravery to tackle it. One big part of addiction is often the pain from past trauma. Traumatic experiences can deeply affect a person and lead them to rely on substances to cope. Therefore, to tackle addiction linked to trauma, a promising therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has come to light.

In this blog, we’ll talk about how EMDR therapy can support people in overcoming addiction. Whether you’re dealing with addiction yourself or know someone who is, this blog aims to show how EMDR therapy can help you in healing and recovery.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

What Is EMDR TherapyEMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, is a unique psychotherapy approach designed to help individuals process traumatic memories and alleviate associated symptoms. Originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), EMDR has since been recognized for its effectiveness in addressing various forms of trauma and psychological distress.

  • The therapy involves a structured series of sessions where the individual is guided to recall distressing memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as following the therapist’s hand movements with their eyes or listening to alternating tones.
  • This bilateral stimulation is thought to activate the brain’s natural healing processes, allowing traumatic memories to be reprocessed and integrated more adaptively.

EMDR therapy has been extensively researched and proven effective in reducing PTSD symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance. However, its benefits extend beyond PTSD treatment. EMDR has shown promise in addressing a wide range of psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and addiction.

How EMDR Therapy Help with Addiction?

How EMDR Therapy Help with AddictionWhen it comes to addiction, EMDR therapy targets not only the addictive behaviors themselves but also the underlying traumatic experiences that may have contributed to the development of addiction. By addressing these underlying issues, EMDR can help individuals break free from the cycle of substance abuse and move towards lasting recovery.

Research has shown that trauma and addiction often go hand in hand, with many individuals turning to substances as a way to cope with past traumas. EMDR therapy offers a holistic approach to addressing both trauma and addiction simultaneously, allowing individuals to heal from the root causes of their addictive behaviors.

  • During EMDR therapy, the therapist will take the patient through a series of eye movements while focusing on specific memories or experiences related to the addiction.
  • This helps to reprocess those experiences so they no longer trigger emotional pain or anxiety.
  • The therapist may also use other techniques such as tapping and music therapy to help increase relaxation and reduce physical tension.
  • With time and practice, the patient can usually reach a point of reduced anxiety or negative emotions related to their addiction.

Overall, EMDR therapy offers hope for individuals struggling with addiction by providing a pathway to healing that addresses both the psychological and emotional aspects of their condition. Through its unique approach to trauma processing, EMDR therapy offers a promising avenue for individuals seeking to overcome addiction and reclaim their lives.

Steps Of EMDR Therapy for Alcoholism & Addiction 

Steps Of EMDR Therapy for Alcoholism & Addiction

Here are 8 steps to get started with EMDR therapy:

  • History
    The therapist will take a detailed history of the patient to gain an understanding of their life and medical background, as well as any current issues related to addiction.
  • Preparation
    The therapist will explain the process and what to expect during EMDR treatment.
  • Assessment
    The therapist will assess the patient’s current mental and emotional state to determine if they are a suitable candidate for EMDR.
  • Desensitization
    The therapist will take the patient through a series of eye movements while focusing on specific memories or experiences related to the addiction.
  • Installation
    This is the stage where the therapist will help the patient install positive thoughts and beliefs associated with the addiction.
  • Body Scan
    The patient will be asked to scan their body for any sensations or physical reactions related to the addiction.
  • Closure
    The therapist will help the patient to close the session and provide any additional guidance or support needed.
  • Re-evaluation
    The therapist will check in with the patient to assess their progress and make any changes to treatment as needed.

Benefits of EMDR Therapy

  • Reduction in PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance
  • Alleviation of anxiety and depression
  • Improved emotional regulation and stability
  • Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Decrease in addictive behaviors and cravings
  • Greater sense of control over thoughts and emotions
  • Increased resilience and ability to cope with stress
  • Healing of past traumas and resolution of negative beliefs
  • Enhanced interpersonal relationships and communication skills
  • Promotion of overall well-being and quality of life

Side Effect Of EMDR

Here are some of the potential side effects associated with EMDR therapy:

  • Anxiety: During treatment, patients may feel a heightened sense of anxiety or distress as they recall traumatic memories.
  • Physical symptoms: Some people may experience physical reactions such as stress, tiredness, or dizziness during the treatment process.
  • Flashbacks: Patients may also experience flashbacks or intrusive thoughts related to their addiction.
  • Headache, Nausea, and emotional imbalance: These physical reactions can be a result of the intensity of the treatment. However, it is important to remember that these side effects are generally short-term and should not be cause for concern if experienced during EMDR therapy.

Can EMDR Help With Food Addiction Too?

Can EMDR Help With Food Addiction TooYes, EMDR can be used to help individuals struggling with food addiction. It is an effective therapy for reducing cravings, improving emotional regulation, and insight into the condition. This helps you in developing skills to prevent relapse. In addition, it can help individuals identify triggers associated with their food addiction and find alternative strategies that lead to healthier eating habits. Ultimately, EMDR can be a powerful tool in helping those affected by food addiction to achieve sustained recovery.


In conclusion, EMDR is a powerful and effective therapy for addiction. It can help individuals to address underlying issues related to their addiction. Afterward, help to gain insight into triggers and learn healthy coping strategies. If you are considering EMDR for yourself or a loved one, it is important to find an experienced therapist who can provide the guidance and support needed for successful recovery.

For more information, please contact MantraCare. Addiction is a chronic and often relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use despite harmful consequences. If you have any queries regarding Online Addiction Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial Online therapy session

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