Does EFT Work for Addicts?

To be honest, when I first began working in the addiction field, I wasn’t sure if EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) would be able to make a big difference. Sure, it’s a profound healing modality, especially when coupled with the Source Technique™, developed by Robin Duncan, who incorporates the wisdom teachings of A Course in Miracles with the energy psychology of tapping, or EFT. However, based on my breakthrough training, intuitive knowledge of healing, and through my own personal experience coming through crisis, I felt empowered that I could make a difference.

When I first came into contact with Antonia, the founder of the Antonia Maria Bilardo Foundation, she was a patient at an addiction treatment center in Los Angeles. The first thing I noticed about Antonia was how emotionally conflicted she seemed. When she approached me to inquire about working together 1-to-1, she told me about her personal history of violence, trauma, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as an eating disorder. Years of living this ways had produced a cycle of very negative thinking, fueled by heavy stored emotions like guilt, shame, blame, anger, resentment, and hopelessness.

Admittedly, as we started working together she revealed she had been “eating her emotions” as opposed to feeling them. She was a shell of her true self and was being prescribed heavy sedatives and anti-psychotic pills to treat her symptoms, but which really just worked to suppress the spiritual awakening that was beginning to stir inside of her. This pattern of emotional suppression and repression was quite obvious in Antonia and all of the other addicts I observed. People were walking around the treatment center all claiming to be “addicted” to one substance or another, but what I found in common among all of the patients I observed was unprocessed feelings and stored trauma in the mental and emotional body. The result was a total disconnection from their hearts and spirits and intuitive capacity to heal.

Why is this important?

For one thing, we are emotional and spiritual beings. This cannot be denied. We are not machines and if we allow ourselves to be treated as machines then we lose touch with our humanity, our hearts, our souls, our emotional guidance system, and our ability to feel.


Traditionally, treatment centers aren’t holistic in their approaches to healing. A person exhibiting signs of a spiritual awakening may be looked at as problematic. In order for a person to awaken spiritually, once has to break through heavy layers of genetic and social programming. These layers contain emotional material, stored in the body as energy.

These layers represent the pain-body, a term coined by the well-known spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. Most addicts I’ve met are so out of touch with their emotions and have conditioned themselves to avoid feeling their pain out of fear. However, the pain does’t simply go away by itself. The pattern of avoidance causes a person to divert their energy and attention into something else, which is most commonly their addiction, or addictive tendencies.

Ask any addict about the black space around their heart and they will confirm they have some awareness of this, even if they’re avoiding it fervently. The emotional pain, which is stored energy in the mental body, if not dealt with, begins to take on a life of its own. The pain-body is parasitical in nature and feeds off of negative thoughts. Therefore, the addict is the perfect breeding ground since he will not face his pain — he has not begun the practice of processing his emotions nor has he developed the willpower or discipline to recondition his mind with positive, life-affirming thoughts. Within the addict, this cycle of negative thoughts produces even more negative emotional material which causes endless suffering; I refer to this as the ego loop.

However, when introduced to new practices for entraining the mind to think correctly, and practices to release lower emotions which interfere with a true connection to a Higher Power being made, spirituality emerges as the natural way to surrender the constant fear, struggle, and pain of resisting the transformation that is wanting to come through.

[mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”24″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]“All healing is essentially the release from fear.”  –A Course in Miracles [/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]



What I have seen in others and also experienced through my own suppression of my self expression, is that addicts are highly sensitive beings and are usually highly creative as well with a strong sense of purpose for their lives. At some point in their lives, they developed coping mechanisms to insulate themselves from the harsh realities they were living in. Many choose to ‘deaden’ their senses (or sensitivities) through drugs and alcohol and, in so doing, create a perpetual cycle of avoiding their higher destinies.

While volunteer teaching at a treatment center in Los Angeles in a room full of about 15 clients, I asked the group to share with me one thing that we didn’t already know about them. What I found is that almost every single person identified with some creative talent or passion that they’d given up and would like to get back to. Their addiction, in effect, had replaced their passion and creativity with self-destruction and tragedy and hopelessness. In essence, all of their creative energy was going toward creating and contributing to this thing called addiction and suffering. But underneath each person’s problems was unresolved life events, unhealed relationships, unprocessed emotions, and unaddressed trauma — not to mention unrealized dreams. Steven Pressfield wrote in his book Turning Pro, 

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”24″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]“Fear of self-definition is what keeps…an addict an addict.”  [/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

I would have to agree. What kept the addicts I’ve met hopelessly lost in their situation was their own fears of discovering who they truly are. This journey of awakening, then, is for those courageous souls who wish to fulfill their purpose here on earth. It’s a grand mission and a decision each person must make for themselves. The alternative is to make no decision, to claim helplessness and victimhood, to believe that addiction is an incurable disease, rather than a sickness of the mind that can be healed by the Divine mind.

This decision to heal is a genuine and wholehearted return to love from the depths of fear and self-loathing. It takes work. It defies what you think you know. It takes faith. If you believe you’ve got what it takes to face yourself and all the fears that keep you from your higher destiny and your fullest expression, then reach out for help.

Don’t let pride or shame get in the way of your healing. We’ve all suffered, you’re not alone, and there is a way out — but the only way out is through all of the emotions you’ve been avoiding feeling.

Screen-shot-2013-07-19-at-3.13.14-PMTristan Montoya is a Certified Integrative Coach Professional and EFT with Source Technique practitioner at the Mastery Level. His approach incorporates the philosophy of A Course in Miracles, the systematic healing of the mind, and releasing of stored emotions that cause pain. His spiritually-based coaching practice has helped others recover from addiction, heal from traumas, restore confidence and self-esteem, and has allowed many people to get their lives back from suffering, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and fear.