The BBC2 programme titled "Am I Normal" presented by Tanya Byron considered the concept of "addiction" and examined a limited number of therapy approaches to treat various addictions / habitual behaviours.
Bill Frost contributed to this programme by very briefly demonstrating traditional and computer based EMDR to reduce a smokers urge to smoke from 8 down to 0 in a matter of minutes.
Although EMDR was originally designed to treat trauma there are a number of protocols that have been adapted for the treatment of addictions and substance abuse.
When combined with aversive techniques EMDR can be effective when applied to remove the physical sensations associated with desire. EMDR is not the whole solution and would generally be used as part of an overall therapeutic process. The demonstration on this TV program did not reflect this integrative approach.
In all cases, regardless of the type of approach being used by the therapist, if client motivation is insufficient then therapy will probably be ineffective. If motivation is sufficient and sufficient methods have been employed to target associated feelings, thoughts, behaviours and beliefs then the therapeutic result is generally positive. In all cases patients must make a strong commitment to change behaviour patterns and perform required home-work tasks. Work done in the therapy room is only part of the process.
The term "addiction" has a broad definition but is not really a medical term as such. Medical terms include "substance abuse" and "physical dependence". "Addiction" as used today in common language seems to also include habitual behaviours, compulsions and negative lifestyle choices.
EMDR may also be of benefit more generally with compulsive behaviours, persistent habitual behavioural / cognitive patterns, urge control and behaviours that seek to quell anxiety such as binge eating.
References and clinical evidence include
Amundsen, J. E., & Kårstad, K. (2006). Om bare Jeppe visste.- EMDR og rusbehandling. [Integrating EMDR and the treatment of substance abuse.]. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 43(5), 469.
Cox, R. P., & Howard, M. D. (2007). Utilization of EMDR in the treatment of sexual addiction: A case study. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 14(1), 1.
Henry, S. L. (1996). Pathological gambling: Etiological considerations and treatment efficacy of eye movement desensitization/reprocessing. Journal of Gambling Studies, 12, 395-405.
Popky, A. J. (2005). DeTUR, an Urge Reduction Protocol for Addictions and Dysfunctional Behaviors. In R. Shapiro (Ed.), EMDR solutions: pathways to healing (pp. 167-188). New York: W. W. Norton.
Shapiro, F., Vogelmann-Sine, S., & Sine, L. (1994). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Treating trauma and substance abuse. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 26, 379-391.
Vogelmann-Sinn, S., Sine, L. F., Smyth, N. J., & Popky, A. J. (1998). EMDR chemical dependency treatment manual. New Hope, PA: EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs.
Zweben, J. & Yeary, J. (2006). EMDR in the treatment of addiction. Journal of Chemical Dependency Treatment, 8. 115-127.
Required disclaimer: Please be aware that we bring 100% of our effort and skill to the process, however, as with all practices, results may vary between individuals.