Why Brainspotting May Be a Helpful Tool for Addressing Cravings During Addiction Recovery

Recovery from addiction is a difficult journey, often filled with challenges that can test even the most determined individuals. One of the most significant hurdles in addiction recovery is dealing with intense cravings that can threaten to derail progress and lead to relapse. As researchers and clinicians continue to explore innovative approaches to support addiction recovery, Brainspotting has emerged as a promising tool for addressing cravings and promoting lasting healing.

Brainspotting is a newer therapy technique that is getting attention for its potential to help individuals deal with trauma and emotional distress. But Brainspotting's applications extend beyond trauma treatment, showing particular promise in aiding addiction recovery. By focusing on the deep neural pathways linked to addiction and cravings, Brainspotting may offer a unique approach to managing one of the most challenging aspects of recovery.

Does Brainspotting Work?

In 2003, Dr. David Grand introduced Brainspotting as a therapeutic technique. Brainspots refer to specific eye positions that correlate with stored traumatic memories or intense emotions.

Brainspotting is rooted in the neuroplasticity principle, enabling the brain to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. Brainspotting accesses the deeper brain regions, including the limbic system and brainstem, where trauma and intense emotions are often stored.

In a Brainspotting session, the therapist guides the client to a specific Brainspot that links to their emotional or physiological response. The traumatic memory or intense emotion is linked to the Brainspot, the specific eye position, in the brain. Focusing on this Brainspot allows the brain to process and release traumas or emotions.

How Does Brainspotting Address Addiction Recovery?

Brainspotting uses the connection between our emotional experiences, subconscious mind, and visual field to function effectively. In addiction recovery, specific eye positions can mirror the neural networks linked to cravings, traumatic recollections, and emotional conditions leading to addictive actions. Brainspotting accesses subcortical regions like the limbic system and brainstem to tackle addictive tendencies at their roots.

Those with substance use disorders often suffer from unresolved trauma or emotional wounds. Brainspotting can help reduce the dependence on substances for managing past experiences. This therapy enhances the recognition of the intricate link between thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, essential for controlling cravings. Brainspotting may effectively bypass cognitive defenses in therapy through a focus on eye positions instead of verbal processing.

How Brainspotting Addresses Cravings

Cravings arise from a combination of psychological and physiological factors. Through focused eye positions, Brainspotting can help identify specific cues that lead to cravings. Identifying specific visual fields associated with craving sensations becomes possible, allowing for more targeted interventions. Brainspotting helps decrease the strength and frequency of cravings by addressing associated emotions.

This therapy can promote the development of new neural pathways and reduce the sway of addictive connections. Using Brainspotting, individuals can improve their ability to regulate themselves and effectively manage cravings. 

What Are the Benefits of Integrating Brainspotting with Other Addiction Treatment Programs?

Brainspotting, when combined with other evidence-based treatments, demonstrates greater potential in managing cravings. The combination of Brainspotting and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals manage cravings by teaching adaptive strategies and addressing emotional and cognitive triggers of addiction. Combining mindfulness with Brainspotting enhances awareness of cravings and facilitates a non-judgmental observation of thoughts and emotions. 

Brainspotting complements Medication-Assisted Treatment by addressing the psychological aspects of addiction and supporting individuals in their recovery. Comprehensive treatment facilities like Next Step Recovery offer Brainspotting therapy as part of their addiction treatment programs. These specialized centers provide a supportive environment for individuals to address their addiction and cravings, utilizing Brainspotting as a valuable tool in their recovery journey. 

Participating in group therapy and individual Brainspotting sessions provides mutual support and opportunities to practice new skills in social settings. An integrated approach encompasses various aspects of addiction recovery for a comprehensive treatment plan.

Advantages of Brainspotting in Addiction Recovery

Brainspotting offers several potential advantages for individuals in addiction recovery:

Rapid Processing 
Many clients report experiencing significant shifts in their emotional state and craving intensity relatively quickly with Brainspotting, potentially accelerating the healing process.

Non-Verbal Processing 
For individuals who struggle with verbalizing their experiences or emotions, Brainspotting provides a non-verbal avenue for processing trauma and addiction-related issues.

Client-Centered Approach 
The therapy allows clients to take an active role in their healing process, as they are encouraged to follow their internal experience and guide the therapist to relevant eye positions.

Flexibility in Application 
Brainspotting can be adapted to various settings and integrated with other therapeutic approaches, making it a versatile tool in addiction treatment.

Potential for Long-Lasting Results
By addressing the root causes of addiction and rewiring neural pathways, Brainspotting may offer more sustainable results in managing cravings and preventing relapse.

Considerations and Limitations of Brainspotting 

While Brainspotting shows promise, it's important to note some considerations:

Individual Responses Vary: As with any therapy, individual responses to Brainspotting can vary. What works for one person may not work for another.

Qualified Practitioners: It's essential to work with a therapist properly trained in Brainspotting techniques.

Emotional Intensity: Brainspotting can bring up intense emotions. It's important to have proper support in place when undergoing this therapy.

Ongoing Research: While many practitioners report positive results, more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effectiveness of Brainspotting for addiction cravings.


How long does it typically take to see results from Brainspotting in addiction recovery? 

While individual experiences vary, many people report feeling some relief from cravings after just a few sessions. However, a full course of treatment typically involves multiple sessions over several weeks or months for more comprehensive and lasting results.

Can Brainspotting be done remotely or does it require in-person sessions? 

While in-person sessions are often preferred, Brainspotting can be adapted for remote therapy sessions using video conferencing. The effectiveness of remote sessions may vary, and the decision to use telehealth should be made in consultation with a qualified therapist.


Brainspotting proves to be a promising tool in the battle against addiction, offering a different approach to addressing the persistent challenge of cravings. By targeting the neurobiological roots of addiction and processing underlying trauma, this therapy offers a way to more effective and lasting recovery.

The integration of Brainspotting with traditional addiction treatment modalities offers a complete method that covers all aspects, addressing both the psychological and physiological aspects of substance use disorders. As research in this field continues to evolve, Brainspotting is poised to become an increasingly valuable component of addiction recovery programs.