Alcohol & Chemical Dependency - Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys Mon, 22 May 2017 17:27:25 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Addictions Counselor Seeks Good Guided Imagery Scripts Addictions Counselor Seeks Good Guided Imagery Scripts

We got this query from a certified hypnotherapist working in an addiction house for men. She's been creating her own guided imagery to help with stress reduction and self-esteem. Not surprisingly, the men have histories of abuse and trauma along with chemical dependency. Here is her question:


Greetings, BR. I am a certified Hypnotherapist working in an addiction house for men.

I use guided imagery for stress reduction and self love. The gentlemen have been abused, addicted to drugs and or alcohol and other unfortunate things.

I make up my own imageries but could use some helpful ideas. Is there a book you'd suggest for ideas on the subject? The feedback has been gratifying, my intentions are for their hearts to heal and bodies to follow.

My resources are limited and I could use some references. Perhaps you've written something I could use or you have an idea of something helpful. Your reply is appreciated greatly.


Dear Katrina,

It sounds like the men in the house are lucky to have you as their supporter and champion. Fortunately, there are many imagery scripts – mine and others' – available for you to use to supplement your own narratives.

As for my work, all three of my books have plenty of guided imagery scripts in them, primarily for clinicians like you to use.

4215bBut for your men, who have struggled with addiction and abuse, I'd focus on the collection of imagery narratives in Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal. These scripts are arranged in order of three stages of healing trauma, starting with helping people learn self-soothing and self-regulation skills – which sometimes can be enough, in and of itself for trauma survivors; then moving on to the more intense and emotionally evocative work of transforming the trauma itself; and finally, for the third stage of using imagery to help remediate the negative after-effects of trauma (including a script for chemical dependency and substance abuse) . So this set of scripts would best target your recovering population's issues and needs.

Other fine scripts abound. Julie Lusk has 2 excellent volumes of general wellness and relaxation scripts, with a clear, concise introduction on how to best use them, called 30 Scripts for Relaxation, Imagery and Inner Healing, volumes 1 & 2.

And finally, there's a classic collection of general scripts for groups by Andrew Schwartz called Guided Imagery for Groups: Fifty Visualizations that Promote Relaxation, Problem Solving, Creativity & Well-Being

You can also find plenty of free guided imagery scripts on the internet, simply by setting up a Google Alert for 'guided imagery'. You'd be amazed at what links will show up in your mailbox each day.

The problem with this approach is, there's no discrimination or clinical judgment involved in choosing what you're given – they're just picked by search word algorithms - so you'll get some very good stuff and some really cheesy stuff, (sadly, mostly the latter), in no particular ranking or order.

I review these regularly, because we're always on the lookout for fine, new mind-body resources to add to our catalog. Some of it is so inaccurate and unskillful it sets my teeth on edge.

So perhaps your best bet is to start with the book recommendations above – get a feel for what these are like – and then go trawling if you still crave more variety.

I hope this helps. Keep up the good work!

All best,


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]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Tue, 10 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0500
During Alcohol Awareness Month the Focus is on Prevention, Treatment and Recovery During Alcohol Awareness Month the Focus is on Prevention, Treatment and Recovery

We see daily news reports of alcohol-related accidents and deaths, many of them involving underage drinking. As a police reporter for two decades, I saw that a large number of incidents that required police action (and some that had tragic consequences) could have been avoided, had alcohol use not been a factor.

This April marks the 29th annual Alcohol Awareness Month, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) theme, For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction, seeks to raise awareness that alcohol consumption starts early and it has a particularly deleterious effect on underage drinkers and the people around them.

"Underage drinking is a complex issue, one that can only be solved through a sustained and cooperative effort. As a nation, we need to wake up to the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment, and recovery support are essential for them and their families. We can't afford to wait any longer."-- Andrew Pucher, President/CEO of NCADD

We know that drinking too much causes us to do and say things we might later regret. Consider the case of a 19-year-old college student, whose sober, rational brain made him arrange for his sister to be a designated driver on the night he attended a kegger. When his sister was stopped for speeding on the way home, his rational brain was not in attendance, and he asked the officer, "Dude, how wasted am I?" before stumbling out of the car and relieving himself on the wheels of the police cruiser.

He was charged with underage drinking, disorderly conduct, public indecency and criminal damaging of government property. The moral of this story is simple, but there are many things about alcohol abuse that come as a surprise, and that's what puts the awareness in Alcohol Awareness Month.

ten-keys-2Consider the following from NCADD:

  • Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America's young people, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.

  • Each day, 7,000 kids in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.

  • Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.

  • More than 1,700 college students in the U.S. are killed each year—about 4.65 a day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries.

  • 25% of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.

  • Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

You might also be surprised to learn more about drinking and driving, and find out just how much alcohol it takes to impair judgment and coordination. Not much, so if you're planning to drive, try replacing your alcoholic drink with a tall cola or mineral water, with lots of ice and limes or indulge in a dessert drink without the alcohol. These can be quite tasty and if you avoid sugar most of the time, they are downright guilty pleasures you can savor. You probably won't miss the alcohol.

To learn about an innovative intervention for addiction, read BR's blog post Qigong Helps With Addiction, Especially with Women.

For guided imagery to support recovery from addiction, try Dr. Traci Stein's Creating Positive Change or BR's Alcohol & Other Drugs or read Dr. Stein's free report, Kicking the Habit: The Ten Keys to Positive Change.

During Alcohol Awareness Month, we at Health Journeys encourage you to seek help for addiction if you need it or find a way to reach out on a national or local level to help others. In the words of NCADD, "Addiction can be diagnosed, treatment is available, recovery brings joy."

]]> (Maggie DeMellier) News Wed, 08 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Best Guided Imagery for Bulimia? Best Guided Imagery for Bulimia?

We just got this message on Facebook and found it very timely, being as how our very own Traci Stein's new guided imagery/hypnosis title, Healthy Weight and Body Image, is soon to be released.

Check it out:

Hi Belleruth,
I use your guided imagery all the time, but wondering which one you would recommend for a client of mine who has bulimia.
I would like to get her this as a gift to help.
Thank you. Happy new year.

traci-stein-recordingFunny you should ask! Psychologist Traci Stein has created a terrific new imagery/hypnosis program on Healthy Weight & Body Image (I know it's terrific because I was in the studio when she recorded it).

It's being prepared for production even as we speak. It addresses eating disorders, including bulimia, and body image issues beautifully, with Traci's usual skill, subtlety, depth and finesse.

With any luck, it should be ready in download format by early February, and as a packaged CD by the end of that month. So stay tuned. Who knows? With a little luck, it will get done sooner.

That's the best choice I can recommend for someone dealing with bulimia. Relaxation and Wellness would be a nice accompaniment, for general de-stressing and relaxation. So if you don't want to wait, she could start with this – it would give her some self-soothing skills if she listens regularly. Then when the Healthy Weight audio is ready, she'll have greater capacity for benefitting from it.

Another fine alternate would be Traci's Self-Esteem and Self-Esteem during Sleep audios. And, believe it or not, the imagery on our Weight Loss title has some great guidance for re-inhabiting the body and learning to appreciate and admire it, so that could be a good one to throw in there, too. (A lot of people with eating disorders get it for all the wrong reasons, but are helped by it anyway ☺.)

Hope this helps.

All best,


]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Tue, 13 Jan 2015 00:00:00 -0500
Reduced Depression a Possible Key to 12-Step Success

Investigators from San Diego State University/University of California looked at whether, for dual diagnosis veterans with substance dependence and major depressive disorder, 12-Step success with alcohol and drug use might be mediated by reductions in depression. 

Veterans (209) with this dual diagnosis (chemical dependency and depression) were enrolled in this controlled trial, randomized to either Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF) or Integrated Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (ICBT), delivered in out-patient groups for 6 months, with support from medication.

Twelve-Step attendance and affiliation, depression severity, percentage of days drinking and percentage of days using drugs were assessed at baseline and at months 3, 6 and 9.

Greater 12-Step meeting attendance predicted lower depression and mediated the superior depression outcomes of the TSF group, explaining 24.3% of the group difference in depression.

Independent of treatment group, lower depression severity predicted lower future alcohol use and mediated the effects of 12-Step meetings, explaining 15.7% of their effects on future drinking.
These effects were not confounded by current substance use, suggesting that depression has unique associations with 12-Step meeting attendance and future drinking.

The research team concludes that for patients with substance dependence and major depressive disorder, attendance at 12-Step meetings is associated with mental health benefits that extend beyond substance use.
In fact, reduced depression could be a key mechanism whereby 12-Step meetings reduce future drinking in this population.

Citation:  Worley MJ1, Tate SR, Brown SA. Mediational relations between 12-Step attendance, depression and substance use in patients with comorbid substance dependence and major depression. Addiction. 2012 Nov; 107 (11): pages 1974-83.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Sun, 18 May 2014 20:00:00 -0400
Qigong Helps with Addiction, Especially with Women

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore investigated the efficacy of adding qigong to a residential treatment program for substance abuse.
Qigong, which blends relaxation, breathing, guided imagery, inward attention, and mindfulness to elicit a tranquil, healing state, was introduced into a short-term residential treatment program.  At first clients chose to participate in qigong meditation on a voluntary basis during their evening break.  Later they chose to participate in either meditation or Stress Management and Relaxation Training (SMART) twice a day as part of the scheduled treatment.

Weekly questionnaires were completed by 248 participants for up to 4 weeks, to assess changes in treatment outcomes.  Participants in the meditation group were also assessed for quality of meditation to evaluate the association between quality and treatment outcome.

Most clients were amenable to meditation as part of the treatment program, and two thirds chose to participate in daily Qigong.  While both groups reported significant improvement in treatment outcome, the Qigong group reported a significantly higher treatment completion rate (92% versus 78%, p < 01) and more reduction in craving than did the SMART group.

Participants whose Qigong meditation was of acceptable quality reported greater reductions in craving, anxiety, and withdrawal symptoms than did those whose meditation was of low quality. Female meditation participants reported significantly more reduction in anxiety and withdrawal symptoms than did any other group.

The investigators conclude that Qigong meditation appears to contribute positively to addiction treatment outcomes, with results at least as good as those of an established stress management program.  Results for those who meditate adequately are especially encouraging. Meditative therapy may be more effective or acceptable for female drug abusers than for males.  Further study is needed to assess ways to improve substance abusers' engagement and proficiency in meditation.

Citation:  Chen KW, Comerford A, Shinnick P, Ziedonis DM. Introducing qigong meditation into residential addiction treatment: a pilot study where gender makes a difference. Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine. 2010 Aug;16 (8):pp.875-82.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Sun, 24 Nov 2013 19:00:00 -0500
Guided Imagery Works on Cocaine Addiction & More

A friend found this encouraging message about using guided imagery for help with chemical dependency posted at a website called How Cocaine Destroys Lives for people seeking recovery from cocaine use. 

It’s in the context of a review of our CD for Alcohol and Other Drugs, and it’s the kind of comment you love to hear, because it’s the best possible outcome - that the imagery is not just helping with the substance abuse (although that by itself is fine with us), but with larger issues and attitudes as well.  

So thanks, A. Baranowski, wherever you are, for your hopeful words and kind assessment!  

p.s. I‘m glad you don’t think I’m a silly person!!  Same backatcha!!  We all wish you continued success and joy. 

He or she writes on November 6, 2010:

“I am currently withdrawing from several medications. I have found that this CD is having an impact on parts of my life I never thought related to any drug, alcohol, recovery-related “problem.” 

I am sleeping better, having some incredible experiences while listening, crying a lot, (don’t be scared!!) ..yet, finding that this clears out a lot of things I have been avoiding for years. I am feeling good, open, willing to move on afterward.

“About one or two days into listening, I woke up feeling so great, and great in a way I don’t remember for many, many, many years; in fact, so long ago as to almost have been forgotten. But, that “ability” was still there.

“Belleruth Naparstek has a voice that I trusted and relaxed to immediately – hence the crying. The music is fabulous!! I go to some wonderful places, dig way, way back to feelings of goodness, strength, vulnerability, and have had some unexpected experiences.

“Also, I visited her website, and I really like her attitude and common sense about some of the things people have asked her there. She is not a silly person!!

“Anyway, highly recommended. Listen, relax, enjoy, and be well!”

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Sun, 24 Nov 2013 19:00:00 -0500
A Great “I Quit Smoking” Testimonial

We just found this comment posted online – very inspiring.  Now, it’s not usually this easy for people (myself included – I quit smoking 44 years ago and it was so difficult, I swore I’d never do it again!).  But it does sometimes happen this way, and when it does, it’s pretty awesome.  (Her decision to wait until she was on a break from her regular routine was very wise, by the way.)

Here it is, verbatim:

I had a ten-year [smoking] habit I wanted to break, but no confidence I could do it in my regular routine.  So I decided to quit on vacation. I smoked my last cigarette at the airport, listened to these [Stop Smoking] meditations on the plane - and that was it.

It was almost as if I'd never smoked. I barely thought about smoking at all, although I listened to one or two of the meditations every day just in case.

Back at home, I listen to them every once in a while to keep my non-smoking energy up.

I can't say for sure that these meditations worked the miracle, but they certainly helped! Thank you!

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Sun, 20 Oct 2013 20:00:00 -0400
Conscious Breathing Helps a Suicidal Eating Disorder Survivor

Here is a note from a recovering eating disorder and depression survivor, who needed a hospitalization to get her through some very bad times.  Here she writes about the healing power of conscious breathing, something she learned from her therapist at the Menninger Clinic and from listening to recordings.  As you’ll see, she writes very lyrically:  

I sing guided imagery's praises at nearly every opportunity that presents itself.  To say that guided imagery has helped lead the way out of a dusty barren landscape would not be hyperbole.  Your audios were first introduced to me by Dr. Meredith Titus during a stay at Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.  I was there because I needed help finding my way out of the grasp of an eating disorder and severe depression.  I truly did not care if I lived or died. 

Thank you.  The easiest way for me to share how valuable guided imagery has been, and is, to me is to share some of my writing that comes out of my imagery experiences.  This is from my Menninger hospitalization:

The words settle over me like a cold chill. “Suicide is the natural progression of the disease.”  So there it is, voiced aloud the privately held conviction that my life will end with a self-inflicted killing.  Possessed of a soul no longer able to keep pace with the demands of the physical world I will choose to end it all.  The conversation continues on around me, a roaring cacophony of opinions about creativity and depression.  A faint voice in my own head mumbles for recognition of the multitudes of excellent artists and writers who are mentally healthy.  The voice doesn’t leave the confines of my body.

The words tighten their clammy grip upon my skin and paralyze any movement.  My brain is screaming for me to run.  To shake free of this horrible truth.  Never before have I heard the certainty of my own inner voices stated out loud.  Panic and desperation infuse my body but still I sit as if paralyzed.  Buffeted by the words being flung so casually about the room.  It is my inner struggle I see being prodded, poked, and pushed about before me.

The paralysis begins to spread to my lungs and taking in air becomes increasingly difficult.  The panic also increases and inwardly I scream for Dr. Kashtan and Dr. Titus.  Do they realize the certainty of my prognosis?   They have asked me to trust them, to take their hope as my own and believe their visions of a life that I am not yet able to form as my own.   Am I wrong to make that blind leap of faith that enables me to continue going forth each day?

Finally the only way to take in air, to continue functioning is to blow out the words, “No one can write from the valleys of depression.  No one can write from the peaks of mania.  It just can’t be done.”  Silently in my mind I continue the conversation.  I know.  I know this with a greater clarity and depth of knowledge than I’ve would have ever cared to know.  Having attempted suicide no fewer that five times, the last attempt no fewer than five months past, I am on a first name basis with depression.  My creativity does not flow from my mood disorder but rather is suffocated by it.
With this sudden exhale of words I am once again able to do that which Dr. Titus is always reminding me to do, breathe.  Breathing is good she says and she is right.  With each deeply drawn inhale and ensuing slowly blown out exhale I feel the warm glow of peace beginning to melt off the clutching, cold, clammy fingers that descended upon me with the innocently uttered prognosis.  Breathing is good.  Dr. Titus’s words float over me with a reassuring familiarity and truth.  Breathing calms the powerful seas of depression reducing them to the ever-present waves lapping upon my soul.  Breathing allows me to acknowledge the lapping waves rather than having to fight the crushing waves of a storm surge.  Breathing is good.  

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Sun, 30 Jun 2013 20:00:00 -0400
Dumping the Nicotine Gum Habit


Dear Belleruth …

I stopped smoking in 1997. However, I've been chewing Nicorette gum ever since.

In 2007 I had a triple bypass and a pacemaker implanted. I'm 71 and want to get off the gum, which I know is not good for me.

I looked through your list of tapes and CDs and don't see one that relates to this horrible addiction.  Your assistance is greatly appreciated ….

Sincerely, Allen


Hi, Allen, and congratulations on deciding to get off the gum.  

The guided imagery that applies here, actually, would be for the one that says "Alcohol and Other Drugs" - nicotine is one of those 'other drugs', and this imagery addresses that drug addiction along with any others.  

I wish you the very best of luck with this.  I know it’s very difficult, but if you had the steely spine and iron clad commitment to get off the smokes, you can get off the gum too.

Stay in touch!

All best,

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Sun, 05 Feb 2012 19:00:00 -0500
Guided Imagery Replaces Xanax for Panicky Hopkins Patient

We got this delightful message from Annie Umbricht MD, a general internist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.  What she says about how difficult it is to introduce healthy behavior change to patients is something we can all relate to.  

And the way she responded to her patient who had his heart set on a Xanax refill for his panic attacks, was nothing short of brilliant, if you ask us.

She writes:

Although not all my patients follow through and listen to the guided imagery CDs, those who do are really doing well. 

I tried the Panic Attack CD on a patient who wanted a "refill" on his Xanax that had been started by another provider.  I told him he didn't need it and that it was likely making matters worse.... 

As I was not making progress, I gave him both the CD and the prescription, warning him that the prescription was a one time deal...

Sure enough, a few weeks later the unfilled prescription was returned to me.  When I saw the patient 3-4 months later, he was enchanted, did not suffer any panic any more and was also using the skills he’d learned to deal with pain and ... itches...

We don't win with every patient, and more often than not, we feel powerless when trying to help folks find healthier behaviors.  But a few here and there makes it all worth it ;-)

Thank you very much


[Ed. Note:  We found a great story about Annie Umbricht, M.D. Assistant Professor, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, here.]

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Sun, 29 Jan 2012 19:00:00 -0500