EMDR: A Helpful Resource

Addiction rarely ever develops solely from enjoying the act of drinking and using drugs. Certainly, early on, this might be the deception because you have not developed a serious problem, nor have you acknowledged your behavior and therefore continue to drink or use drugs only to develop issues later on. The counter to this is that sometimes you arrive at using drugs and alcohol to cope with trauma or stress and anxiety in your life. However, when you find yourself using, understand that drinking and taking drugs is always related to your underlying problems or disorders.

In an age where research is discovering more about the brain, it is crucial to evolve medicine and treatment practices to respond to the research. While Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been around for 30 years, it is still a relatively new practice. However, the success stories of patients who have undergone the treatment are encouraging, enticing, and exciting. If you are somebody who has developed an addiction to help you cope with traumatic experiences, the practice of EMDR could be something for you.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy. Its philosophy is founded on the idea of healing your mind, much like your body would mend a wound. EMDR is designed to treat unresolved trauma. However, EMDR is also useful in treating other disorders, including anxiety, PTSD, phobias, grief, and physical pain.

The treatment practices a technique that uses bilateral movement to decrease the emotion related to the traumatic event and better understand those events. When bilateral stimulation is paired with a traumatic thought and emotion, the events are reprocessed and integrated into the brain, creating a healthier response to the trauma.

Bilateral Stimulation

Bilateral stimulation operates in a rhythmic, left-to-right pattern. It includes visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli. What this is doing is helping to stimulate both sides of your brain. When experiencing a traumatic or distressing memory, the brain’s stimulation will help decrease the worry by allowing you to free up these stuck thoughts. The treatment will enable you to distance yourself from these thoughts, making the problem seem further away. Some research suggests this phenomenon happens because your nervous system is continually reorienting itself to the stimuli, which in turn allows you to not focus on a single thought for long periods.

Understanding Cause and Effect

When your addiction becomes habitual in helping you deal with your trauma–for example, when you take drugs or alcohol to cope with distressing thoughts and memories–you are limiting yourself to only reacting to the impulse derived from the emotion. However, EMDR treatment helps you separate the cause and effect of your behavior. Treatment helps you understand your emotion rather than react to it using drugs or alcohol. Recognizing your feelings could also help bring out past trauma that you might have suppressed. Becoming aware of these suppressed thoughts could help you discover what has contributed to your addiction and help you move past the trauma.

Offer Restfulness

The body uses sleep to heal muscles, wounds, and the brain. Because EMDR is eye movement-based therapy, it has similar effects as sleep in that it focuses on improving the brain. EMDR treatment, in addition to helping to heal the brain, also promotes a restful feeling in the body, similar to having just slept. Many finish treatment with a great feeling of relaxation.

Fast Relief

Research shows that just after one EMDR session, many feel relief. This is encouraging if you have been battling addiction for years because it shows that you can make progress. Confidence like this leads to empowerment, which leads to taking proactive steps toward maintaining treatment in recovery.


There are some criticisms over the therapy. 30 years of practice might sound like a long time, but it is a relatively new technique in medicine and there is a lot left to discover. Many are hesitant to use EMDR as a sure and effective way to treat trauma and stress because there’s just not enough research yet.

On the flip side, those who have sought EMDR treatment praise its effectiveness for helping them understand their thoughts and manage their addiction. Patients should be encouraged to know that the better understanding we have of the brain, the better we can understand why this treatment works—and better understanding offers more refined practices. The other encouraging thing to take away is that research on the brain is continuous and always progressing.

In the meantime, you do not need to wait for science to help attain a better understanding of you. You are always one treatment or conversation or meditation away from having an “aha!” moment that lends insight into how you work and what you are about. What is known about EMDR is that it is a treatment that can offer you this moment by inciting memories and feelings that you never knew you had. It begins with taking the risk. If you find it challenging to get motivated and think that there is no treatment for you, then this is your subconscious telling you that it is time to seek help. If EMDR does not seem like a treatment for you, many alternative therapies are useful in your pursuit of mental and physical sobriety.

True Recovery offers 24/7 care and specializes in helping you find the right treatment for you. True Recovery has established a reputation for understanding the struggle with addiction from your perspective. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.