Healing From Addiction With the Emotional Freedom Technique

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Recovery February 19, 2024

Healing From Addiction With the Emotional Freedom Technique

According to an official White House release statement and the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), “40.3 million people aged 12 or older had a past-year substance use disorder. Meanwhile, more than four out of five Americans who need treatment for illicit drug use do not receive it. Mental health and substance use disorder services have been under-resourced for far too long, and the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an even greater burden on the system.” These numbers cannot be ignored. People struggling with addiction need help, and a prominent portion of that help could include the highly beneficial emotional freedom technique.

What Does It Mean to Heal at the Cellular Level?

Healing at the cellular level has to do with interconnectedness and healing the whole mind, body, and soul. Many recovery centers and treatment facilities only focus on the alcohol or substance component of one’s addiction. However, addiction goes much deeper than the substances one uses. This is why it is often said that “alcohol and substances are but a ‘symptom’ of one’s addiction.”

Of course, eliminating addictive substances or behaviors from one’s life is paramount, but the recovery process must not stop there. It is important to get to the underlying emotional issues, physical pain, and potential spiritual emptiness if one wishes to heal from addiction at the cellular level. This is also what it means to get to the root/core causes of our addiction issues.

What Does It Mean to Get To Get To the Root/Core Causes of Our Addiction Issues?

Understanding what lies under the surface of our addiction is just as important as the drink or drug that we put in our system. Under the surface often lies the root/core causes of one’s addictive behaviors. This could be something more tangible, like the emotional effects of work stress, or it could be something less easy to put our finger on, such as trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, these issues of trauma and PTSD are much more common than many people may think.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “At different points in time – like during a war or pandemic, or in a year with multiple natural disasters—more people may be at risk of PTSD because more people are experiencing traumatic events… About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives… About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.” Also, many people with PTSD try to manage it by self-medicating with alcohol or substances, which often leads to more serious issues of addiction. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs) are prevalent and frequently co-occur. Comorbid PTSD/SUD is associated with a more complex and costly clinical course when compared with either disorder alone, including increased chronic physical health problems, poorer social functioning, higher rates of suicide attempts, more legal problems, increased risk of violence, worse treatment adherence, and less improvement during treatment. In response, psychosocial treatment options have increased substantially over the past decade, and integrated approaches – treatments that address symptoms of both PTSD and SUD concurrently – are fast becoming the preferred model for treatment.” The most effective of these models often utilize the “multi-angle” approach to treatment.

What Does It Mean to Take a ‘Multi-Angle‘ Approach to Self-Care and Recovery?

The multi-angle approach to self-care and recovery is all about treatment plans that are comprehensive and individualized. These treatment plans focus on all avenues of self-care and a multitude of modalities. 

Regarding self-care, the multi-angle approach touches on all aspects of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. Now, regarding modalities, the multi-angle approach focuses on using methods from many different areas of treatment, including traditional therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), experiential therapies like nature immersion therapy, horticulture therapy, and surf therapy, and holistic methods like yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. It is this last area of holistic healing that many recovery centers often overlook in their treatment plans.

What Does Holistic Healing Look Like?

Holistic healing can be just as effective as other traditional means of recovery. It can also greatly improve the outcomes of traditional therapies.

A safe synonym to use when it comes to holistic healing is “natural.” Holistic healing uses more natural means to help one recover, such as low-impact exercise (like yoga) and mindfulness practices (like meditation). The methods often focus on calming the mind and finding a sense of serenity within oneself, both essential aspects of addiction recovery. 

Holistic healing can be especially helpful when it is utilized with more traditional therapies found in Western medicine. This is what happens with the emotional freedom technique.

What Exactly Is the Emotional Freedom Technique?

The emotional freedom technique (or “neural tapping”) can look a bit peculiar when one first sees or experiences it. However, evidence has shown it to be highly effective.

The emotional freedom technique works by tapping on specific “endpoints of meridians” while focusing on stressful issues and repeating calming statements. This actually sends calming signals to the amygdala portion of our brain, which is responsible for “fight or flight” signaling. Then, this actually eliminates that fight or flight feeling we often have and brings a sense of calm into our lives.

The Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine offers a more technical description of the emotional freedom technique and how it works. They explain, “EFT [emotional freedom technique] is a brief intervention combining elements of exposure, cognitive therapy, and somatic stimulation of acupressure points on the face and body. Participants typically identify a concern or issue they wish to address with the technique and rate their level of distress on a Likert-type scale out of 10 (10 is the maximum amount of distress and 0 represents the minimum or a neutral state). This is called a Subjective Unit of Distress (SUDS) scale and has long been used as a subjective measure of a participant’s discomfort in therapy.”

The emotional freedom technique can quite literally eliminate years of tension and stress that have been building up in the body. However, that is certainly not its only benefit.

What Are the Benefits of the Emotional Freedom Technique?

Now, the benefits of the emotional freedom technique are vast and varied. The following are just a few of those exceptional benefits:

  • Helps with anxiety and depression, especially anxiety and depression associated with PTSD
  • Support improvements in appetite and weight management
  • Relieves stress and tension
  • Helps with sleep patterns, including help with sleeping too much and sleeping too little
  • Increases self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Helps with communication skills
  • Can relieve physical aches and pains, including headaches
  • Boosts energy levels and focus
  • Can help regulate heart rate and lower blood pressure
  • Helps with concentration and memory
  • reduces thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide

As one can see, these benefits are not insignificant. Also, these benefits can be greatly improved when the emotional freedom technique is used in tandem with other modalities.

What Modalities Pair Well With the Emotional Freedom Technique?

It would be hard to find a means, method, or modality that is not aided by the supplemental treatment of the emotional freedom technique. This includes traditional, experiential, and holistic methods.

However, holistic treatment methods have been shown to be very effective when paired with the emotional freedom technique. One of the reasons for this is that they share many of the similar benefits. So, when utilized in tandem, these benefits tend to increase exponentially. This is certainly true when yoga is also used as a means of recovery.

The Emotional Freedom Technique and Yoga

Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. It was originally used solely for religious and spiritual purposes, and while it is still used by many for those purposes today, it has also been shown to be a highly beneficial part of people’s recovery plans.

Like the emotional freedom technique, yoga can be used as a way to calm the mind. However, that is not the only benefit that it offers. According to the International Journal of Yoga, “Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions. Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional, and spiritual pain, suffering, or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.”

Yoga can also work to calm the sense of fight or flight that many people experience on a day-to-day basis. Especially those who tend to have high-profile careers and live “elite” lifestyles. Another helpful method of recovery that pairs well with the emotional freedom technique is the personal development technique of journaling.

The Emotional Freedom Technique and Journaling

Many people are unaware that journaling is a very real technique that is used within the mental health field. It is much more than merely writing. No, journaling in the therapeutic realm often follows certain guidelines.

According to the peer-reviewed journal Family Medicine and Community Health, “The two primary forms of journaling used in psychotherapy are expressive writing and gratitude journaling. Expressive writing is a journaling technique which is performed for 3 – 4 sessions about ‘one’s deepest thoughts and feelings’ for 20 min per session. A gratitude journal on the other hand is a diary of accounts for which one is grateful, and where attention is focused on the positive aspects of one’s life.” Journaling can be especially helpful prior to going into an emotional freedom technique session because it offers the individual a better understanding of the statement that they want to utilize during the “tapping process.”

Meditation can also be helpful in a slightly similar way. It can help clear the mind so that what we wish to say comes to us more clearly.

The Emotional Freedom Technique and Meditation

Like yoga, meditation has been used for thousands of years on a spiritual plain. Also, like yoga, it is now widely used in the recovery industry to help people struggling with all sorts of mental illness and addiction issues.

Just like the other methods that we have been discussing, mediation offers a multitude of benefits. According to the Journal of Ayurveda (AYU), “Research has confirmed a myriad of health benefits associated with the practice of meditation. These include stress reduction, decreased anxiety, decreased depression, reduction in pain (both physical and psychological), improved memory, and increased efficiency. Physiological benefits include reduced blood pressure, heart rate, lactate, cortisol, and epinephrine; decreased metabolism, breathing pattern, oxygen utilization, and carbon dioxide elimination; and increased melatonin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), skin resistance, and relative blood flow to the brain.” Another wellness method that offers similar benefits and can even look a bit like the emotional freedom technique is acupuncture.

The Emotional Freedom Technique and Acupuncture

Like the emotional freedom technique, acupuncture utilizes certain points of the body to offer a sense of calm and relief. Many people have seen acupuncture depicted but are unsure of what exactly it is.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), “Acupuncture is a technique in which practitioners insert fine needles into the skin to treat health problems. The needles may be manipulated manually or stimulated with small electrical currents (electroacupuncture). Acupuncture has been in use in some form for at least 2,500 years.” Also, acupuncture is a great way to incorporate Eastern medicine into a Western-based recovery plan. It offers that “comprehensive” aspect that, as previously discussed, can be so essential. Another great therapy to add to a comprehensive recovery plan is horticulture therapy.

The Emotional Freedom Technique and Horticulture Therapy

In addition to the emotional freedom technique, horticulture therapy is also a unique offering that we here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab have to offer. When one walks onto our luxury 30-acre property, one will find rows of citrus and exotic fruit trees, bountiful guava bushes, and plentiful pineapple patches, all of which are cultivated and utilized by our clients in their horticulture therapy.

Horticulture therapy offers a myriad of benefits. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “People’s interactions with plants, through goal-orientated horticultural activities in the form of active gardening, as well as the passive appreciation of nature, could be therapeutic to people with mental disorders in many ways. First, horticulture could have emotional benefits, such as reducing stress, reducing psychiatric symptoms, stabilizing mood, and increasing the sense of tranquility, spirituality, and enjoyment. Second, it could help people to reduce fatigue and restore attention and cognitive ability.” The Journal also explains how it offers a “sense of belonging” and a “sense of accomplishment.”

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

The exciting news is that here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, the emotional freedom technique and the other means, methods, and modalities are not the only exceptional recovery options that we have to offer. We offer individualized comprehensive mental health and addiction care that ensures the best opportunity to rediscover oneself and achieve and maintain long-term recovery.

Recovery is all about the journey, never the destination. That exciting journey can begin right here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.

The Greek philosopher and “father of Western medicine,” Hippocrates, wrote, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we offer the best opportunity to completely heal at the cellular level.

The emotional freedom technique can be an essential tool for healing from addiction and mental illness issues. It is an ideal way to get to the root/core causes of one’s issues and ultimately heal at the cellular level. Its benefits can also be heightened when used in tandem with other means, methods, and modalities like yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with issues of mental health, addiction, or co-occurring disorders, we can help get you onto the positive path of long-term recovery. For more information about the benefits of the emotional freedom technique and other types of treatment, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200