In using hypnosis for alcoholism treatment, the hypnotist leads the alcoholic into a trance-like state.  The alcoholic “can become more imaginative and better at problem solving. In short, they’re in prime position to sort out strategies for conquering their own addictive behaviors.”1 The person must want to stop drinking and must be sober at the time of hypnosis. That’s because clear thinking is essential.

hypnosis for alcoholism

Some myths about hypnosis might make a person hesitant to try hypnosis for alcoholism.  But the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis reports that a person who is hypnotized

  • Is totally conscious.
  • Is not asleep.
  • Is very relaxed.
  • Is not weakened.
  • Won’t do anything against their will.
  • Won’t reveal any secrets.
  • Is in control of their behavior. 2

The effectiveness of hypnosis for alcoholism treatment depends on a number of things.

  • How long the patient has abused alcohol.
  • The level or degree of alcoholism.
  • The effectiveness of any prior hypnosis.
  • How suggestible the patient is.
  • The quantity of alcohol consumed.
  • Whether drinking is alone or with others.
  • How committed the patient is to abstinence. 3

Hypnotherapists sometimes teach their clients or how to hypnotize themselves. They believe that self-hypnosis for alcoholism can be helpful in overcoming urges to drink.  This should help in reducing relapses.

Hypnosis has shown its ability to greatly influence a person’s perceptions and behaviors. Hypnotherapy is sometimes used to treat pain, anxiety and phobias. It has shown the ability to reduce irritable bowel syndrome. Evidence is encouraging for its possible value in treating anxiety, stress, hypertension and insomnia.

Hypnosis is widely used in treating nicotine addiction and promoting smoking cessation.  Unfortunately, the evidence is clear that it’s completely ineffective for this purpose. Hypnosis is no more effective on rates of quitting tobacco than no treatment.

Hypnosis fails to help people quit smoking. Thus, it should not be surprising that hypnosis for alcoholism is also ineffective. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that hypnosis for alcoholism helps alcoholics. It doesn’t help them either achieve sobriety or maintain it.

Further Reading


  • Abbott, N.C., et al. Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. Cochran Tobacco Addiction Group. Published online October 6, 2010.. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001008.
  • Floyd, A.S., et al. Alcoholism treatment outcome studies, 1980-1992. Addict Behav, 1996, 21(4), 413-428.
  • Stoil, M.J. Problems in the evaluation of hypnosis in the treatment of alcoholism. J Sub Abuse Treat, 1989, 6(1), 31-35.
  • Wadden, T.A. and Penrod, J.H. Hypnosis in the treatment of alcoholism: a review and appraisal. Am J Clin Hypnos, 1981, 24(1), 41-47.
  • Webb, A.N., et al. Hypnotherapy for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, Cochrane Inflammatory Bowel Disease andFunctional Bowel Disorders Group. Published online October 17, 2007. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005110.pub2.


1. Hypnosis as an Addiction Treatment. AlcoholRehab,com

2. American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Myths about Hypnosis.

3. Richards, D. Does Hypnosis Work For Alcoholism?

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Filed Under: Treating Alcoholism: General Approaches