Can Neurofeedback Help Treat Addiction?

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Addiction is a complex disease with a number of environmental, genetic and social factors. The most effective way to treat the condition is with a multi-faceted approach that addresses these different factors. One complementary therapy that has become frequently used in addiction treatment is neurofeedback.

This therapeutic technique allows participants to identify and change certain types of activity in their brains. Neurofeedback has already displayed promising results in the treatment of epilepsy, ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, it is also being used to treat addiction. A growing number of studies has shown that it can help recovering individuals avoid a relapse.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a specialized type of biofeedback therapy that helps the brain become more calm and focused. During traditional biofeedback sessions, participants learn how to influence certain body processes that are usually involuntarily: heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and more.

Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that focuses solely on the brain’s activity. Therapists use electroencephalography (EEG) machines to record activity in each client’s brain. Over time, participants learn how to control and adjust this activity.

How Does It Work?

Addiction has a way of hijacking a person’s brain. When you have an addiction, your mind and body are working against you, doing everything possible to keep you from breaking your dependence on alcohol or drugs. Neurofeedback turns the tables on this vicious cycle, helping your brain work with you to fight your addiction.

In a neurofeedback session, participants get to see how their brains react to certain thoughts and memories. They can use this understanding to change their reactions in positive ways. If certain thoughts make you anxious or angry, and those feelings cause you to drink or use, you can work with your therapist to change the way you react to these thoughts. This can help you control impulses and cravings.

Benefits of Neurofeedback for Addiction Treatment

Research shows that neurofeedback can help people stay in treatment and avoid a relapse after treatment. In one study, over 77 percent of individuals who received neurofeedback along with a 12-step program stayed drug-free after 12 months; only 44 percent of participants who didn’t receive neurofeedback made it through the same time period without a relapse.

Another study followed the progress of homeless crack users: After receiving 12 months of neurofeedback in conjunction with a 12-step program, 12 participants completed the treatment program per month. Before neurofeedback was added to the program, only 12 people graduated from treatment each year. The benefits of neurofeedback have shown to persist long after treatment is complete.

It’s clear that neurofeedback offers multiple benefits to clients in an addiction treatment program. Neurofeedback isn’t a miracle cure, but it’s a safe and effective treatment. When used in conjunction with traditional addiction treatment, it can lower the risk of relapse. Our neurofeedback therapy program helps clients break free of old thought patterns and heal emotional wounds from the past. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction and mental health treatment programs.

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