As a practitioner, working with clients who have one or more addictions can be tough. Not only are you trying to support their wellbeing from a physical perspective, you also want to do everything you can to aid in their recovery.

So what can you use to achieve these outcomes? Personally, I use Naturopathic Emotional Release as a support tool in addiction, with great success. Let’s explore why we need techniques to help with addictions, along with how NER can be a great fit.

Addictions are more prevalent than ever

It’s suggested that 1 in 20 Aussies have an issue with substance abuse, and around 1 in 4 drink alcohol at ‘risky’ levels. As with many statistics around unhealthy habits, there is a good chance the numbers are significantly higher than those who are diagnosed and recognised as having an addiction.

And that’s before we even consider other more ‘acceptable’ forms of addiction – shopping, gambling, gaming, phone/social media use. Although these might seem less directly harmful compared to drugs, smoking and alcohol, they can have serious consequences for your client’s mental health, physical health and support network.

Given these numbers, there is a good chance that even if you’re not aware of it, you’re working with clients who experience addiction. That means you need to have something ready in case they do seek your support.

How NER can support clients with addictions

It’s no surprise that I love using NER with clients that have experienced addictions. Everyone with a health goal or challenge can benefit from working on their nervous system! But there are several specific reasons why it’s useful in these cases.

Addictions are strongly driven by stress & emotions

While there are many factors that play a role in addiction, including genetics, underlying health conditions and mental health, some of the most significant are stress & negative emotions.

Chronic stress leaves people more vulnerable to developing an addiction. It increases the risk of someone starting to use the substance or behaviour as a form of stress relief, as well as the transition from use to abuse.

One way we can get to the bottom of the stress & negative emotions that can exacerbate addictive behaviours? NER, of course! You can learn more about the specifics of how NER addresses chronic stress here.

NER can address underlying trauma driving the behaviours

Another massive driving factor in addiction is trauma. It’s well-documented that people living with addiction often have had multiple exposures to significant trauma, including physical, mental and/or sexual abuse. This can be from childhood, adulthood, or a mix of both.

Trauma can be a murky area for many health practitioners. We understand why it’s such a big deal in terms of health, but many feel uncomfortable factoring it into their treatment plan. But as I’ve covered previously, NER is an excellent option to include when it comes to trauma.

And of course, the most important part of working with underlying trauma? There is no need for the client to discuss the experience. This makes it far more comfortable for them to clear the trauma from their nervous system compared to other talk-based therapies.

You can identify beliefs that are holding your client back from success

Relapse is a natural part of the addiction recovery process. But the more often a person relapses, the harder it is for them mentally and emotionally. So we want to do everything we can to support them in minimising relapse by finding out what their stumbling blocks are.

In many cases, this comes back to one or more unhelpful beliefs. For example, they could be thinking:

  • I can never give up (whatever the addiction), it’s just part of who I am
  • My family member(s) struggled with addiction too, it’s in the blood so it’s inevitable
  • I’m not strong enough to go without my addiction
  • What if I’m boring, unlovable, have nothing to offer when I’m free of my addiction?
  • It’s just one time, I can quit again later on

When this happens, the nervous system will try to protect them from harm by sabotaging their efforts. And this feeds into the relapse cycle.

But what we can do here is help the client to identify the beliefs that are holding them back, and clear them. This will help keep them on track with their recovery and other supporting health goals.

Now of course it goes without saying, NER is not here to replace the support of mental health practitioners and addiction specialists. But it can be a supportive option, and it may even be the first port of call for a client who is not yet ready to seek help from the more formal addiction recovery services.

Want to add Naturopathic Emotional Release to your clinical toolbox?

The place to start is with my NER Training Course, which is run online and in-person. To learn more about the training and check out the upcoming workshops, click here.