What Is EMDR and How Is It Used in Drug Rehab?

The Source Addiction Treatment Center What is EMDR and How Does it Help Drug Rehab Miami

EMDR Is a Helpful Tool in Resolving the Underlying Causes of Addiction

EMDR has made a name for itself in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction in recent years. In combination with more traditional addiction treatment, EMDR helps patients work through the past trauma that can be the underlying cause of addiction and provides tools to recover successfully.

What Is EMDR? 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy uses visual stimulation to help patients process trauma. Studies have found a correlation between the rapid eye movements associated with REM sleep and traumatic memory. 

EMDR is done by a licensed clinician who guides the patient through recalling memories while simultaneously rousing your vision to change how painful memories are stored and felt. Healing from traumatic events and triggers is crucial in helping you avoid substance use. EMDR therapy typically involves eight sessions where the clinician guides you through your past, present, and future traumatic events. 

How Does EMDR Help Treat Addiction?  

It’s unclear exactly how EMDR affects the brain. However, comprehensive studies have shown it is useful when used in combination with other forms of therapy. It’s no secret that trauma and PTSD are major contributing factors to substance abuse, and that’s why it is so important to address them in addiction treatment.  

A benefit of EMDR therapy is that it does not require any medication, as it is done simply by visual stimulation. This process may be particularly appealing to someone who is considered high risk for abuse.  

As previously mentioned, there are eight phases of EMDR, which include:

  • Phase 1 where emotional distress is identified
  • Phase 2 utilizes imagery and stress reduction
  • Phases 3 to 6 help the patient identify negative beliefs they may have about themselves, traumatic visuals, and emotions associated with them
  • Phases 7 and 8 occur when the patient learns ways to self-soothe, and the clinician observes the patient’s progress  

Using trauma-focused therapy allows the patient to receive holistic care and treat the underlying factors that often contribute to substance use. EMDR is very effective for those who have PTSD and have been a powerful tool in preventing relapse. 

What to Expect During an EMDR Treatment Session

During EMDR, you will focus on a negative image or belief related to a specific traumatic event and then move on to a more positive view, indicating that the issue is resolved. While the patient focuses on the adverse event, the therapist will use side-to-side eye movements, taps, or sounds. 

The patient will be guided to observe what comes to mind after each set. Ideally, they will experience shifts in insight or feelings regarding the event. These sets of eye movements, sounds, or taps are repeated until they even become less triggering.  

Usually, EMDR sessions last between 60 to 90 minutes. EMDR therapy aims to process experiences that may be causing problems in your life and develop emotions and perspectives that will lead to healthy and beneficial behaviors.

Finding EMDR Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

At The Source Treatment Center, we combine traditional therapies with modern techniques like EDMR to identify and process underlying addiction causes such as anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.  

Our Chief Clinician, Joanna Painton-Hathaway, says, “Among the many useful techniques for identifying and minimizing the effects of trauma, EMDR is considered to be fast, effective, and useful as a component of a comprehensive plan of recovery.” 

If you are struggling with addiction and would like more information about how The Source can help you get back on your feet, please contact us today. Our compassionate treatment team will work with you to develop a treatment plan unique to your needs.