I often get asked during the NLP training how to work with clients that have addictions. NLP, Time Line Therapy®, hypnosis and other modalities such as Mindfulness are really useful techniques for assisting people to overcome addictions. In fact in the book, “Time Line Therapy® and the basis of personality,” written by Dr. Tad James and Wyatt Woodsmall, Dr. James has a transcript of the work he did with a cocaine addict.

What is the definition of an addiction?

There are a few definitions of addiction on Google. I like this one that I came across in an article I found on
“Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.”


So an addiction is not necessarily a substance abuse, albeit that is what most people think of when you talk about addiction. Alcohol is probably the number one addiction and it is often portrayed as being cool to drink. It’s been around for thousands of years and many people don’t even recognize the fact that they are addicted.

I think in certain circumstances addicts need a support system to assist them in recovering from the addiction, however programs like the 12 step program are not the be all and end all. One major difference from example the 12 step program and modalities like hypnosis and NLP is the shift in language. We want to move away from the identity of, “Hi my name is Jack and I am an alcoholic,” to being a “non-drinker” etc. No longer associating with and focusing on the problem or thing you don’t want, but rather what you do want. There is a identity shift that needs to take place.

How do you get rid of addiction?

So what is the answer? Well that is the million dollar question and it depends on the client, the addiction and a number of factors.

Is it possible to stop being addicted to chocolate in one session? Yes absolutely and there may be no further sessions or support required. A cocaine or other addict may require more sessions. Some less, some more, depending on what is going on for the client.

Let’s take an example of a client that has a sex addiction. Considering adverts, movies, T.V etc. we are consistently bombarded by sex in one fashion or another. The old adage, “Sex Sells,” springs to mind. In fact there have been many companies who only employed sexy young ladies as sales people, as they often got more sales than their male counter parts from male clients. Look at a motorbike magazine or exhibition and you will always see beautiful young ladies in tight revealing clothes. Years ago it was taboo to show a sex seen in a movie, now you have movies showing school children having sex, suggesting that is how one shows love to another.

When somebody has an addiction there may be a number of issues that the client faces. The client with a sex addiction may have been abused as a child. They may not have got any love and now they think that sex is “the” way of showing love. They may use sex as a form of control. Media often portrays sex in a certain way. In fact if you do Google search for porn or sex, you will find millions of sites feeding those addictions. Often with young girls or boys who are being preyed upon to fulfill those fantasies. So we can see that there are a number of reasons why the client might be addicted to sex, as there is with other addictions.

Working with a client that has an addiction is not something that should be taken lightly and you should be aware that many things can arise in the clients past that you must be prepared to deal with. There are things like major negative emotions, limiting beliefs and limiting decisions etc. that they may need to deal with. Maybe that client has very low self-worth or may even suffer from depression. They are often trying to fulfill something at a deeper unconscious level, which they don’t even know they are trying to do. In NLP we talk about prime concerns. I believe that having access to a range of “interventions” or modalities is useful to deal with the range of potential underlying issues that the client may need to deal with. This assists in helping the client deal with these underlying issues in the fastest and most efficient manner.

It is also important to realize, that a client with an addiction can very easily cross addict as they stop one addiction and then take on another. So it is not simply a case of let’s do a quick general hypnosis or NLP session and the addiction is gone. It may take a few sessions over a period of time and the client may need ongoing support as they are dealing with the issues they face. A one program fits all approach does not work.

Addiction is a serious issue for all involved and needs to be dealt with in the right way. If you suffer from an addiction, seek out help and speak to somebody about it. Make sure that the person you work with has experience in dealing with addictions. There is help available. You deserve to be happy and free.

I solute you and wish you every success on your journey of recovery.