Some of the most serious and pervasive problems in our society today are directly and indirectly related to substance abuse. Excessive us of alcohol and other drugs, cigarette smoking, and overeating are all examples of substance abuse. In each case, the person is experiencing feelings, consciously or otherwise, that are uncomfortable (e.g., fear, loneliness, boredom, depression, etc.). Instead of dealing with the uncomfortable feelings directly and effectively, the person employs what is known as an "avoidant coping style." Avoidance is an inherently disempowering strategy, placing one in the "victim" position by saying, in essence, "I can't handle this." The substance is turned to as a way of altering one's feelings, making them more manageable, even if only for a few moments.
Substance abuse also has a strong social component. People build their relationships around the substance, and perhaps their identities as well. Treatment has to be as multidimensional as the problem. Using hypnosis to teach better problem-solving skills, increase impulse control, resolve underlying depression and/or anxiety, enhance a stronger sense of commitment to sobriety or abstinence, and many other empowering skills are just some of the possible approaches in addressing substance abuse.
On a different level of consideration, substance abusers typically are in a physically dissociated state to some degree, with a markedly diminished awareness of the negative effects of the substance on their bodies. Furthermore, substance abusers gradually build their lives around the substance: Cigarette smokers don't take the stairs, and obese people don't look at their bodies in the mirror. Each wants to avoid situations that will force them to confront the physical effects of their habit, and so dissociation from the body helps to allow the pattern to continue.
Hypnosis can be used to cultivate greater body awareness, a more positive attitude of self-protectiveness, and a greater sense of independence such that whatever situations are encountered an be dealt with more effectively without self-abuse.