A client asked: Can you hypnotize someone who is stoned?
Cannabis as pain relief
In this case, my friend is a stoner [cannabis]. He suffers something akin to restless leg syndrome. The grass is not the problem. Lol. He has a condition where his muscles, especially his thighs/quads, are drum tight, permanently pumped full of anxiety and tense to the point that they are literally sore to touch 24/7. It certainly detracts from his enjoyment of life.
He's been to doctors, osteopaths and acupuncturists, et al. However, not one of them can find anything outwardly wrong with him. I'm figuring it is psychosomatic, though that makes his 'condition' no less serious. It's a major problem. Anyway, I'm going to work with him using relaxation scripts. Getting back to the cannabis use. Is it silly to attempt to hypnotise him while he's a bit stoned? I'm figuring it's what he uses to relax and obviously I need him to relax. I mainly use progressive relaxation induction, but if you stop to think about it, he's unable to relax his muscles. I know there are other inductions, but he's still unable to relax, by and large. I figure the grass might take the edge off, so to speak.
Can he take cannabis before hypnosis?
Can you think of any reason he can't have a puff or two before our session? If a person has restless leg syndrome (which is the closest malady to the one he seems to have), then it might actually be useful to tell them to imagine they are a little stoned whenever they consciously think that they want to stop the painful sensation. Grass is obviously what he uses to remedy his pain. But he wants to cut down or even stop using. I think that my approach is a stab in the dark, but I just wanted your expert opinion. Can you think of a better script than one simply for relaxation, please? Of course, I will use metaphors and the likes, but in the end it's just about relaxing and masking pain, right?
How to hypnotize someone who is stoned?
I replied: There can be problems inducing trance when the client is stoned. People who are high on marijuana have difficulty focusing on anything. Regular users report that their mind keeps wandering away and they lose track of what they are thinking about. A client who is really stoned probably could not concentrate enough to follow the instructions.
On the other hand, just taking one or two puffs to take the edge off their anxiety probably would have no effect. I regularly induce people who are on Prozac and other prescription drugs.
However, I don't think a relaxation induction is the right way to go about it.
I would try a breathing induction. Get him to dissociate by focusing on his breathing. Just be aware of the breathing. When you have him breathing gently and rhythmically then suggest he thinks of a word. Any word will do. Or suggest a word, like 'eagle' or 'dolphin' or something he might associate with free-ness and might prompt his imagination to go into a visualization. Then tell him to silently repeat the word on every out breath. As he breathes and repeats the word he will start to go into a light trance. He should start visualizing something without you telling him to. Then tell him he is in the first stage of trance. Tell him the next stage is to welcome his own inner mind. Tell him as he breathes his mind is opening, letting go of something, and he can get in touch with that mind. Suggest he might be feeling different.
Self convincing in hypnosis
Then tell him that this inner mind is powerful, looks after him, controls his mind and body. Tell him to ask that mind to demonstrate its power by focussing on his eyes. Tell him that mind can take over his eye muscles, can show the power by making it impossible for him to open his eyes. That his eyes feel as if they belong to someone else and he just cannot open those eyes. Then invite him to test that his inner mind has achieved this. When he can't open his eyes, he is in trance. Job done. No mention of relaxing; and using his own tendency to clamp down.
So once he is in trance what are you going to do? Just relaxing isn't enough. Presumably he does that on his own when he goes to sleep.
I think you should get him, in trance, to visualize his tense muscles, or the whole business of tension, how he feels it, does it. Then get him to verbalize what image comes to mind. Get him to expand and detail that image. Then get him to experience the thing changing, gradually, in subtle ways to become something else. Gently lead him by oblique suggestions to get the thing to shrink, or corrode or gradually decay and disappear via some other process.