Is EMDR Therapy Used for Substance Abuse Treatment?

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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that has mainly been used to assist those who have experienced trauma. This type of therapy can help people who are experiencing panic attacks, complicated grief, disturbing memories, dissociative disorders, phobias, pain disorders, stress, and more. EMDR therapy itself is about 8 phases – involving treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation. During the therapy session, a therapist will ask the client to move their eyes to typically follow their fingers while the therapist guides them to take on a more confident, positive belief they would like to adopt regarding a certain situation.

EMDR can certainly be used by those in substance abuse treatment, because many people with substance use disorders (SUDs) have experienced trauma; in fact, that could be the very reason that the addiction started in the first place. A 2017 study assessed women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and SUDs as they utilized EMDR therapy; 15 women participated, with half participating in schema therapy and the other half using EMDR. Eight sessions were provided to the participants total, and the researchers then evaluated them on addiction severity, alcohol and/or cannabis cravings, PTSD symptoms, intensity and depressive symptoms after treatment. Results from the study showed that EMDR reduced symptoms significantly – overall, participants found a major decrease in addiction severity and PTSD symptoms.

Another study published in 2018 in the journal Frontier Psychology evaluated the use of EMDR therapy on 20 participants with SUDs. Twenty other participants underwent regular treatment to serve as a comparison group. Results from the study indicated that EMDR was a very effective form of therapy, as there was a significant reduction in post-traumatic symptoms. Overall, EMDR can be a very effective addiction to substance use recovery treatment programs.

If you’ve been struggling with substance use, seek help today by speaking with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about addiction recovery programs and EMDR. It’s never too late to begin your journey to recovery.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.