By CJ Puotinen
Why is it so hard to quit drinking? Why do cravings for alcohol live on, even after years of sobriety? And why do the lives of so many recovering alcoholics revolve around caffeine, cigarettes, sugar, and other stimulants?
It's probably because will power, 12-step programs, and prescription drugs like Antabuse don't address an addiction's underlying cause, especially if the cause involves a tangle of unresolved emotions. The drinking may stop, but the cravings remain, and suppressing those cravings can be a full-time job.
But breaking an addiction doesn't have to be painful or require constant effort. In fact, a new do-it-yourself technique can help just about anyone stop drinking by going straight to the source of addictive behavior. Instead of depending on will power, confessional meetings, or drugs that make alcohol unpalatable, the Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, combines focused thought with gentle tapping on key acupuncture points.
As unlikely as it sounds, this simple procedure often eliminates not only cravings but their underlying causes as well--and unlike conventional methods, it does so quickly and painlessly.
The theory behind EFT is that all illnesses, problems, physical pain, and damaging emotions share the same basic cause: a disruption of the body's flow of energy. Just as the skillful application of acupuncture needles helps release energy blocks, so does tapping on the meridians with the fingertips.
Western medicine has long ignored the meridians or energy pathways mapped by practitioners of Traditional Oriental Medicine, but in the past 20 years, science and medicine have increasingly endorsed the use of acupuncture, acupressure, and other meridian therapies to relieve pain and speed healing.
Now psychologists, therapists, and counselors are discovering that these same techniques can help neutralize damaging thoughts that contribute to unremitting cravings and addictions.
"People have all kinds of reasons for drinking," says Gary Craig, the Stanford-trained engineer who developed EFT, "but most involve unresolved emotions, including stress, anxiety, and fear. Drinking is one way to tranquilize difficult emotions and keep them under control.
What we're discovering with EFT is that it's possible to eliminate stress, anxiety, and other damaging emotions altogether, so the need for self-medication simply disappears. When an addictive behavior serves no useful purpose, the behavior disappears, too."
That's what happened to "Cath," who juggled a demanding career, two young children, and an overwhelming alcohol addiction. She took Antabuse for two months but her cravings remained so strong that she felt volatile, anxious, and stressed to the max.
In desperation, she visited Mair Llewellyn-Edwards, a therapist who taught her EFT. In just a few minutes, Cath used the technique to get rid of a headache and found herself relaxing and laughing. From then on, her life changed completely.
Doing EFT throughout her busy day reduced the build-up of stress at its source and gave Cath the confidence to face situations she had previously feared. Cath never realized how much stress she was under until she discovered that tapping on EFT points reduced her anxiety to the point of calm confidence.
For the first time, she understood how often she masked anxiety with alcohol and why she drank on her way home before facing her family at the end of a hectic day. Using EFT, Cath's interest in alcohol disappeared along with her anxiety.
Cath's discovery changed not only her own life but the lives of those around her, for she was soon teaching everyone she knew how to tap for themselves. In her position as a school principal, Cath introduced EFT to her staff as a stress management tool.
Colin Larcombe is another EFT success story. A meditator and yoga practitioner, he decided it was time to give up alcohol. "I exercise daily at 6 a.m.," he said, "and trying to get into the lotus position with a hangover is not the easiest thing to do!"
Larcombe had been using EFT for two years when he decided to stop drinking. First he listed the problems alcohol caused him, then he focused on how he drank for social reasons and the desire to fit in.
His breakthrough came when he had a vision of what he most wanted alcohol to do for him. "I wanted to sit down with my wife, on the sofa, in front of the fire with a cold glass of white wine and chill out and relax," he explained. "But it has NEVER EVER happened that way."
He tapped while thinking about how he had never been able to achieve the dream state he craved. "And that was it!" he exclaimed. "The desire evaporated. I have not had a drink since, nor the desire."
"Most people have no idea that the tools they need to transform their lives are right there inside them," says Craig. "All you need is a technique that gives you access to them. The reports sent in by EFT practitioners and by people who have learned EFT on their own are inspiring and amazing.
Everyone knows that kicking an addiction like alcohol is one of the most difficult, painful, and time-consuming projects you can undertake, so to say that you can do it just by tapping on your head while you think about drinking defies belief. But Cath and Colin are real people who did just that, and they're not alone. Their success and the success of others like them is making EFT the world's fastest-growing self-help technique."
While a complete description of EFT is beyond the scope of this article, those wishing to save time and dive right in can get the very affordable EFT Book and DVD.
Please consult qualified health professionals before putting EFT into practice for yourself or others.