Research Spotlight: Tapping Proves an Effective Addition to Addiction Treatment

Written by: Nick Ortner

There are many, many reasons that I love Tapping – one of which is that it has the potential to help with conditions that are normally quite difficult to resolve using standard treatments.

A powerful example of that is addiction. Addiction is a very powerful thing, and a very challenging issue to treat. But for many years now, I’ve witnessed EFT Tapping help many people to break free from a variety of different addictions.

And there’s even research to back that up, suggesting that Tapping can be a very effective tool to implement when it comes to addiction treatment. 

Today, I’ll shine the spotlight on a compelling research study on Tapping and addiction.

Researchers looked at the effect of Tapping on psychological distress in people with addiction

The study I’d like to highlight today was published in the Journal of Scientific Research & Reports in 2013, and it was conducted by researchers Dawson Church and Audrey Brooks.[1]

The participants in the study were 39 attendees of a weekend workshop in LA titled, “Healing the Cycle of Addiction.” The participants all identified as having addictive cravings for a wide range of substances including alcohol, drugs, chocolate, food, and tobacco.

At the workshop, the participants were introduced to Tapping, also called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). They learned about what it was, they were introduced to its benefits for addiction, they were educated on how to use it, and they also tried the technique for themselves.

Each participant took assessments both before and after the workshop, which assessed them for distress and a variety of psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression. Twenty-eight of the study participants also completed a 90-day follow-up assessment. 

When looking at the data, the researchers saw that there was a vast improvement in overall psychological distress levels after the EFT sessions. Those improvements were still seen a month and a half later at the follow up. 

Why are these research findings important?

The authors of this study found that a Tapping workshop helped people with addiction to reduce their distress and lower the severity of their psychological symptoms.

The researchers found the results of the study to be quite important. They concluded that the data suggest that “EFT may be an effective adjunct to addiction treatment.” [1]

As the authors of the study point out, it is well known that psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety often coexist alongside addiction. People with addiction and substance abuse disorders often report that they turn to their substance of choice to “self-medicate” psychological distress and mental health issues.[1] 

If Tapping can help to ease that distress and soothe mental health symptoms, then it may just be able to help people in their efforts to avoid addictive behaviors.

The authors also note that childhood abuse and trauma are often linked to substance disorders and addiction. The participants in the study were specifically instructed on how to use EFT Tapping to address adverse childhood experiences – which is one of the reasons Tapping may have proved to be so helpful in the study.[1]

Common, traditional treatments for addiction often don’t address the whole picture from a holistic approach. But Tapping has the potential to do that! In this study, Tapping offered stress reduction, mental health support, and help for releasing the effects of challenging early-life experiences. All of these things can support addiction treatment from a variety of angles and can support individuals in moving towards recovery.

Let’s dive a little bit deeper into the benefits of Tapping for addiction support.

The many ways in which Tapping can support addiction recovery

EFT Tapping isn’t a cure all, and recovery from severe addiction is a long process. But Tapping has, time and time again, helped people continue to progress towards recovery.

Here are some of the top reasons why Tapping can be such an effective tool for addiction support:

1. It helps to reduce stress

One reason Tapping can be so helpful for cravings and addiction is that it is proven to help disrupt the body’s stress response. Tapping prompts your body to release fewer stress hormones, which allows your body and mind to return to a calmer, more relaxed state.[2,3]

This is important, because stress and addiction are tightly linked. Excess use of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, or even food is often a sign of too much stress

In fact, research shows that an unhealthy stress response is linked to addictive disorders. Basically, the more stressed we are and the less well we manage that stress, the more likely we are to use substances and also to relapse. Researchers believe that when we can better manage our response to stress, it can help us to prevent cravings, substance use, and risk of relapse.[4]

The relaxation response triggered by Tapping can help people struggling with addiction to respond to stressful situations from a place of greater balance and calm. And that has the potential to disrupt the harmful patterns and habits that people with addiction may otherwise commonly fall into.

One of the special things about Tapping is that it has the ability to calm stress and anxiety very quickly – making it an effective tool to turn to for fast relief!

2. It helps release unresolved emotional issues

Tapping is also an excellent tool for addressing unresolved emotional issues that can often play a role in substance use.

As we saw in the study highlighted above, the participants were able to use Tapping to address difficult experiences from their childhood.[1]

I’ve worked with many people around addictions and cravings using Tapping. With our Tapping work we usually start on the surface to address the physical craving, but then we almost always dig deeper to the feelings that are buried underneath whatever the substance of choice may be (whether it is alcohol, sweets, or cigarettes). 

Through Tapping, we are able to find the unresolved emotional issues that are truly at the root of the problem. This allows the potential for long-term resolution of addictive behaviors, because we have actually gone underneath the surface to the deeper issues.

3. It provides a healthy behavior replacement 

Tapping gives people struggling with addiction a new, healthier way to treat themselves and care for themselves on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. 

Whenever a craving hits, individuals can turn to the Tapping technique as a positive habit to take the place of their old behaviors.

For example, if someone who is trying to stop drinking alcohol is at a dinner party and finds themselves tempted to accept the offer of a glass of wine, they can excuse themselves briefly to do a few rounds of Tapping instead. Or if someone tends to always crave a cigarette on their lunch break to help them release stress, they can practice Tapping on that break instead as a healthier, and more effective, alternative.

Tapping is a great way to interrupt old patterns and rewire our habits toward more productive responses so that we can release the habits that have been causing harm. 

Tapping resources for addiction and cravings

From smoking, to alcohol, to food, to drugs, Tapping can be an invaluable tool on the journey to recovery for a wide range of addictive substances.

If you or a loved one struggles with substance use, addiction, or cravings, I encourage you to turn to Tapping for added support. It is extremely effective and can provide quick relief, supporting long-term resolution and recovery. 

I’ve seen Tapping help transform lives over and over again, leading to positive, lasting change. 

If you are interested in giving it a try, you can learn more about Tapping and how to Tap on our Tapping 101 page.

And if you want to dive in further, try downloading The Tapping Solution App. In the app, you can find guided Tapping meditations specifically designed to support you with addictions and cravings. 

Here are a few examples of topics covered in the app:

  • Opioid Detox Support – Craving Relief
  • Opioid Detox Support – Sleep Programming
  • Overcome Cigarette Cravings & Quitting Smoking
  • Cravings Buster: Alcohol
  • Cravings Buster: General Cravings
  • Cravings Buster: Sugar

Until next time… 

Keep Tapping!

Nick Ortner


  1. Church, D & Brooks, AJ. The Effect of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) On Psychological Symptoms In Addiction Treatment: A Pilot Study. Journal of Scientific Research and Reports. 2013;2(2):315-322.
  2. Church D, Yount G, Brooks AJ. The effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: a randomized controlled trial. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012;200(10):891-896.
  3. Stapleton P, Crighton G, Sabot D, O’Neill HM. Reexamining the effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychol Trauma. 2020;12(8):869-877.
  4. alʼAbsi M. Stress and Addiction: When a Robust Stress Response Indicates ResiliencyPsychosom Med. 2018;80(1):2-16. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000520

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Over 17 Million Tapping Meditations Played in Our App!
Get Instant Access to our "Releasing Anxiety" and "Sleep Support: Quiet The Racing Mind" Tapping meditations.
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