Hypnosis in alcohol misuse treatment

A pilot study, where we examine whether hypnosis can improve short term memory among patients in alcohol treatment. We hypothesize that this may improve the effect of treatment and their mental health while potentially minimizing the risk of relapse following treatment.


  1. Adapt a hypnosis treatment, which focuses on improving short term memory for patients in alcohol treatment.
  2. Test if this adapted hypnosis treatment can improve short term memory and thereby improve the effect of the treatment that patients receive and their mental health as well as minimize the risk of relapse or treatment drop-out.
  3. Investigate whether the hypnosis treatment is feasible and acceptable (for patients and for clinicians at the treatment center) and can be implemented in the alcohol treatment in Denmark.


Alcohol misuse is associated with cognitive dysfunctions, such as deficits in short term memory capacity, which lead to problems in everyday life and may lead to poorer effect of alcohol treatment. We are investigating a new hypnosis treatment called “Suggestion-based cognitive rehabilitation (SBCR)” among patients in alcohol treatment, as this treatment has shown large effects for improving short term memory among Danish patients with acquired brain injury (Lindeløv et al., 2017)1.

1Lindeløv J K, Overgaard R & Overgaard M: Improving working memory performance in brain-injured patients using hypnotic suggestion Brain 2017 Apr 1;140(4):1100-1106

The Study

The project is carried out in collaboration with the inpatient alcohol treatment center, Ringgården, where we are offering two types of hypnosis in four sessions over four weeks to 44 of the patients. To examine potential effects, we test all patients before and after the hypnosis sessions to measure their short term memory, mental health and dropout. We also contact patients three months after the final test session to measure their mental health and whether they have had drinking episodes. To investigate feasibility and acceptability of the intervention, we will collect data through semi-structured interviews with a small group of the patients and their primary clinicians as well as  the management at the treatment center.  

The project is carried out between February 2022 and August 2024.


The project is funded by TrygFonden.


  • Ringgården, Nationalt Kompetencecenter for Dobbeltfokuseret Afhængighedsbehandling
  • Susanne Bollerup Overgaard, Psychologist and hypnotherapist
  • Jonas Lindeløv, PhD, Psychologist and developer of SBCR
  • Mads Uffe Pedersen, Professor, Centre for Drug and Alcohol Research Aarhus University