One of my more memorable experiences working with EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and addiction arrived about a half hour after one of the first screenings of my documentary The Tapping Solution several years ago. The audience had really liked the movie, so there was a lot of excitement during the post-screening discussion. Given the mood in the room, the last thing I expected was this question from an audience member:
"I'm sorry, but I've been in here for over two hours. I'm desperate for a cigarette, can we tap on it?"
I of course agreed, and we spent the next five minutes tapping as a group, focusing on this man's physical craving for a cigarette. By the end of several rounds of tapping, he was amazed that he no longer felt the need to smoke. He shared that he'd really been enjoying our discussion, hadn't wanted to leave, and was excited to have his craving out of the way so quickly!
You can view a video on how to tap here.
Since that day I've helped others, using EFT to quiet, and over time resolve, different addictions -- from mind-altering substances to food and more. For those of you unfamiliar with EFT tapping, it combines the best of both healing worlds: Eastern wisdom about acupressure, or "meridian points" in our bodies, and traditional Western psychotherapy, or "talk therapy." The practice consists of tapping with your fingertips on nine specific meridian points while talking through traumatic memories and a wide range of emotions. Because EFT accesses the "stress centers" in your brain on physical and emotional levels simultaneously, EFT may effectively treat conditions like addiction, which often can't be resolved successfully with psychotherapy alone, or with other alternative therapies.
Treating addiction with EFT tapping is a two-part process. The most urgent issue is typically the physical craving, which is what EFT resolved for that movie audience member. Tapping can provide surprisingly fast relief for cravings, which allows people to lower their use/intake of the addicting substance or activity surprisingly quickly. Tapping also gives addicts a healthy replacement for their addiction. For instance, someone who's trying to stop drinking alcohol can briefly excuse him or herself from a dinner party and go into the kitchen or bathroom to tap for a few minutes to calm themselves and quiet the physical craving to drink wine.
For true long-term resolution of any addiction, you also need to address the root causes, which are the unresolved emotional issues behind the addiction. For example, an alcoholic who began drinking excessively after a divorce would ultimately need to do tapping around his or feelings of loss or betrayal from the breakdown of that marriage, rather than just tapping on the alcohol abuse. To do that, of course, that person has to want to stop drinking, and be willing to engage in the addiction recovery process.
David Rourke, an EFT practitioner who has been attending Narcotics Anonymous himself for over 25 years, helps serious addicts recover from addictions to heroin, alcohol, and more. In cases of severe addiction, true recovery can take years, he says. What he has seen repeatedly during those years is how much EFT helps people continue progressing toward recovery. It's a really important accomplishment, he explains, given the estimate that 40-60 percent of addicts relapse after completing a 28-day recovery programs.
One reason tapping is so helpful for addicts is its ability to calm anxiety very quickly. Using tapping, you access the amygdala, located in your mid-brain. The amygdala regulates your body's stress response, a process that can be initiated by a physical craving or an emotional trigger, like a painful memory. With tapping, you quickly disrupt the body's stress response, prompting your body to release fewer "stress hormones" like cortisol and adrenaline, which flood your body during moments of high anxiety. With these hormones at healthier levels, your body and mind relax much quicker.
The relaxation response provided by EFT then allows addicts to respond to potentially stressful situations more logically, and make a rational decision about whether relapsing into their addiction will resolve their issues or ultimately cause them more pain. As David has seen repeatedly over the years, the more addicts access their own inner strength, the sooner they're able to address the deeper emotional issues behind their addictions.
EFT tapping, David adds, can make the entire recovery process both easier and shorter, potentially preventing relapses and giving addicts a way to treat themselves on a day-to-day, even moment-to-moment, basis.
Nick Ortner is the creator and executive producer of the hit documentary film, The Tapping Solution. His new book on EFT will be published by Hay House in April 2013. To get a copy of his free eBook, Tapping Your Way to Health, Happiness and Abundance, visit TheTappingSolution.com.
For more by Nick Ortner, click here.
For more on addiction and recovery, click here.