Floating Free from Habits & Addictions
Recent discoveries, especially in neurochemistry, indicate that addiction is not restricted to what are usually thought of as “addictive drugs”. Addiction is simply a compulsion to continue doing something – whether taking a particular substance or indulging in certain behaviour – combined with the occurrence of stressful withdrawal symptoms if the ingestion of the substance or the behaviour pattern is suddenly ended.
Scientist have made great advances lately in identifying the mechanism of addiction. Biochemists have found, for example, that addiction is a result of changes in the body’s ability to experience pleasure, its reward system – changes in the number and activity of the opiate receptors of the nerve cells, and in the levels of the body’s internally produced opiates, the endorphins.
It is also known that the symptoms of withdrawal are associated with sudden oversupplies of the neurochemical norepinephrine in the limbic system, and that drugs that block the action of norepinephrine alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal. Such discoveries give scientists hope that they will soon develop chemical ways of overcoming addiction.
Taking a different angle of approach, behavioural and cognitive therapists and researchers have recently developed highly effective methods of attacking addictive mental processes and behaviour, and it now seems clear that all who have a serious commitment to overcoming their addiction can do so, provided they follow some of the techniques for behavioural control.
Generally, the worlds of the behavioural/cognitive therapists and the neurochemists are far apart, one group trying to change the imperfect actions and ideas of imperfect people in an imperfect world, the other exploring, mapping, and “correcting” microscopic electrochemical processes in the nervous system.
With two completely different worldviews, these groups rarely agree on much. So it is significant that both behavioural/cognitive psychologists and the neurochemists now agree that Floatation tank is a powerful tool for overcoming addictions, both by changing addictive behaviour and personality characteristics, and by bringing about rapid and striking changes in the human biochemistry. stopsmoking.jpg
In the period immediately after quitting a habit, the tank alleviates the pains of withdrawal and enables the user to feel some pleasure. Floating also reduces the level of such anxiety-related biochemicals as norepinephrine, which is released in great quantities during withdrawal.
A session in the tank alleviates some of the depression and anxiety usually associated with “crashing” or cutting off consumption of the drug after a period of use.
Even long after we have quit an addictive behavioural pattern, there are circumstances that will cause us to want to return to the addiction: stress, anxiety, depression, a certain individual, whatever. When we realize there is a chance that we return to our addictive behaviour, we can simply take a float, stimulate our pleasure pathways, and avert the return to the habit.
In a series of carefully controlled studies of the effects of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) in the cessation of smoking, it was found that the effect of sensory deprivation is powerful and unprecedented. According to a study of smoking and sensory deprivation, people who had undergone earlier sensory deprivation smoked almost 40 percent less than those who had received similar anti-smoking treatment but without REST.
The same method was applied in a problem that is even harder than smoking to solve or deal with: getting people to lose weight. Smoking is a relatively simple “all or nothing” behaviour pattern, while overeating is very complex.
The sensory deprivation session with weight-reduction messages is very effective. Subjects who underwent the therapy were able to lose an average over six kilograms over the following half a year, while those who were equally determined to lose weight, but only listened to messages, or only underwent the sensory deprivation, had lost virtually no weight after six months.
The most striking aspect of the study is that the people who combined the sensory deprivation with messages continued to lose weight steadily, month after month, and were still losing weight after six months when the study was completed. In fact, in the last four months of the six-month study period, the sensory deprivation group lost about two kilograms while the other groups gained some weight. In addition, amazingly, this continuous and extended weight loss was the result of only one session of REST.
In succeeding clinical studies, the technique was modified by personalizing the taped messages played to the subjects in the Floatation tank, and found that the results were even more impressive, with some of the subjects losing as much as 30 kilograms within two months.
Similarly successful results have been obtained in using the tank to help heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol intake, or stop drinking altogether.
For several years, Hospitals have used the Floatation tank as an integral part of their hospital-based stress management program. In a statistical analysis of eighty-seven outpatients gathered over a one-year period in the early 80s. The hospital noted that those who used the tank had a 50 percent reduction in smoking and 45 percent reduction in alcohol consumption. These statistics are striking, since the program was directed at general stress reduction and not specifically toward modifying a single behaviour such as smoking or drinking.
alcohol.jpg The Floatation tank can be used as a self-assessment tool to devise your own programs:
For the first time you can even work on coming up with solutions.
What you want to say to yourself in the tank, which is in its self very therapeutic.
Then each session that follows becomes a kind of booster session, adding power to the suggestions you have already incorporated into your life.
For the taped messages and self-suggestions to have the desired effect, deep relaxation is essential. Only a few people have ever experienced deep relaxation, or know how to go about relaxing, but the Floatation room allows you to go rapidly and easily to a deeply relaxed state.
This way the behaviour modification programs can have their greatest effect, and it is not necessary to devote a large part of the time allotted for taped messages during the float session.