I read an article about how naltrexone, an opiate suppressant, curbs the urge to engage in kleptomania. I've had dissociative clients who have successfully used naloxone and naltraxone to vanquish their endogenous (internal) opiates, in order to be able to stay present and process traumatic events, instead of switching or spacing out completely. (See EMDR Processing w/ Dissociative Clients: Adjunctive Use of Opioid Antagonists by Ulrich Lanius, in EMDR Solutions: Pathways to Healing, 2005). I've also had success using ego state work with addicts, alcoholics, and people with compulsive/addictive behaviors. Here's my theory: Opiate Antagonists work on dissociation because much of dissociation is run by endogenous opiates. When addicts think of their drug or behavior of choice, they begin to enjoy their endogenous opiates. When they engage in their drug or behavior it gives them an even better high. The neural pathways to the repetitive addictive behavior become wide and strong, until they become ego states. When people in recovery talk about "my addict", they refer to this strong ego state. Integrate the ego state and help heal the addiction.
So how does this work? Have clients bring up the last time they were frantic to use, or the last time they did use. "Where do you feel that inside? What's the feeling? Float back to the first time you had that feeling. How old is that? What was happening then? Can you bring your adult back to that time/that kid? What do you need to tell that child? You're with her. You can fly her up to the present time. She's with you all the time, now, and you're with her. Can you tell her that now, as a competent adult, you can tolerate those enormous feelings? Can you show her how you have learned to soothe yourself without that drug/behavior? How's that kid doing now? (Do whatever it takes to calm her down.) And are you ready to hug her into you now and forever?"
There is usually a frantic little child and often an angry/protective teenage part. Sometimes there are several "parts" involved in different pieces of the addiction. It has worked on several clients.
A.J. Popky and Jim Knipe have protocols that seem to fit my opiate theory. Popky developed the Level of Urge to Use. Knipe spun off the Level of Urge to Avoid. In both of these you have the person imagine whatever triggers them to use a drug or to avoid a task and to feel how good it would feel to use or avoid. Then you do eye movements and watch the good feeling start to fade away. (DeTUR, an Urge Reduction Protocol for Addictions and Dysfunctional Behaviors by Popky, and Targeting Positive Affect to Clear the Pain of Unrequited Love, Codependence, Avoidance, and Procrastination– both in EMDR Solutions: Pathways to Healing, 2005, Norton.) You target inappropriate positive affect in both cases. When the positive affect (the good endogenous drugs) fade, you target the distressing affect underneath, and the trigger stops being a trigger. I've done this many times, for many addicts. It works amazingly well.
I've watched clients and people in my private life turn into unrecognizable demons, sociopaths, and screaming or pleading children while in thrall to their addictions. The dissociation/opiate theory explains these behavioral shifts. Please comment and give me your opinion about this theory.