How Hypnosis Can Be Used as Opioid Alternative to Manage Pain

Carol McNeilly knew she wanted to minimize her potential for using prescription opioids following her knee replacement surgery.

But how would she pursue a speedy recovery while dealing with the post-surgery pain?

McNeilly chose hypnosis and relaxation.

“I don’t know that everybody gets the same results, but for me it was absolutely wonderful and successful,” McNeilly said.

McNeilly met with a therapist and was provided a customized recording that she used two to three times a day to relax and visualize herself healing. She said it allowed to change her relationship to pain.

“We all experience pain, but we don’t have to view it as an enemy,” McNeilly said. “We can view it as something to be curious about, to be interested in and to manage and that’s why I wanted to use hypnosis.”

McNeilly said she had a fast healing with no complications.

“It can help you manage discomfort in ways that you don’t depend on an outside substance to get you there,” McNeilly said.

According to mental health professionals, hypnotherapy can even be used to help treat people living with chronic pain.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of adjusting to the pain or the sense of accepting it, but not being so bothered by it,” said licensed clinical psychologist Lisa Lombard.

Lombard is also the president of the Chicago Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

She said a licensed health professional may look at a person’s strengths during a hypnosis session and build on what the individual is already doing that might be providing them with satisfaction.

“I like to think of it as helping teach our patients some tools that they carry with them long after the psychotherapy ends,” Lombard said.

Sally Balsamo of The Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain said while non-traditional pain relief may help one person, it certainly won’t help everybody.

“Many people with chronic pain do try alternative therapy. It really all depends on the individual,” Balsamo said.

Mental health experts have also said hypnotherapy could help pave the road to recovery for people addicted to opioids.

Carol Morken is a psychotherapist and member of the Chicago Society of Hypnosis who said the key is for a patient to be off the drug before a hypnosis session. She said the specialist could help the patient work with his or her unconscious mind to design a program around the patient’s confidence and thought patterns.

“You can literally do things like every time you see the color red, you become more and more confident and strong in your conviction to remain opioid-free,” Morken said.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis said hypnosis can also be used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, allergies and high blood pressure.

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