Addiction Treatment Options, Alcohol Addiction, Drug Addiction, Substance Abuse  |  February 11, 2016

In the 1980s, scientists began to suspect that drug and alcohol addiction was tied to altered brain function and started experimenting with biofeedback to see if the brain could be taught new habits.  Their first results were promising and prompted other researchers to continue that research.

A number of studies now show that integrating a form of biofeedback called neurofeedback training into an addict’s treatment program yields higher rates of success and lower rates of relapse than treatment programs without neurofeedback, for all age groups.

In fact, addiction specialists in the U.S. report that more than 85% of their clients who train with neurofeedback improve their ability to focus, regulate behavior, and reduce impulsivity.

Is neurofeedback training in wide use in addiction rehab?  No.  But we’ll get to that point a bit later.

So just what is neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is also known as EEG Biofeedback and it works in addiction by helping to retrain a person’s brain.

Our brains are complex processors of chemical and electrical signaling.  It is these signals that to a large degree control behavior and bodily function.  For a variety of reasons – some environmental, some genetic – brain function can become disrupted.  Put another way – the human brain can at times become over-stimulated when it should be calm and under-stimulated when it should be paying attention.   And this state can become chronic and debilitating.

Neurofeedback works to retrain a person’s brain to operate in a calm, rational state, even in stressful situations.  Teaching the brain how to become relaxed, calm, and focused helps a person think clearly and rationally.  And that is important because stressful incidents frequently cause relapses. Neurofeedback training helps those suffering from substance abuse to build a solid base on which to recover.

Now why aren’t more addiction rehab programs using these new tools – tools that are not only safe but also avoid the unpleasant side effects of drug therapies?

That’s a question that is difficult to answer.

One thing is true – drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs that utilize this new tool and others like it are seeing far higher rates of lasting recovery – lasting abstinence  - than traditional programs.

In fact, part of the reason Aware Recovery Care produces such exceptionally high rates of long term abstinence amongst our clients is because we have taken the lead in incorporating these  new recovery tools in recovery care.  We have taken tools that science has demonstrated can help addicts recover and we have woven them into a comprehensive model of care – one that is successfully delivered to our clients in their home environments.

Is neurofeedback uncomfortable in any way?

No.  Actually, a neurofeedback training session is relaxing and enjoyable and typically lasts about 30 minutes.  You wear a headset that is plugged into a computer and you work with a trained neurofeedback specialist during your session.  By using brain maps to determine the specific areas that are malfunctioning, we target and train the regions of the brain with under- or over-arousal and connectivity. This helps correct some of the physiological aspects of the addiction.

To learn more about how the Aware Recovery Care treatment program works and to learn about the tools we use to bring you the opportunity to heal at home, visit www.awarerecoverycare.com  or call us at 203-779-5799.  All calls our completely confidential.

Photo credit: Guppydas via Foter.com / CC BY