Neurofeedback Therapy


Although there are many different types of therapy used to treat addiction, there are certain therapies that are unique in that they can offer a level of insight that isn’t normally available or offered by other types of treatments. Neurofeedback therapy is a treatment we offer that can be incredibly insightful, providing great insight into the inner workings of your brain and helping you to make functional corrections to your brain that would give you even better chances of achieving long-lasting sobriety.

What is Neurofeedback Therapy?

Being that addiction is an extremely complex disease, there have been a growing number of different therapies incorporated into the treatment of substance use disorders. Of course, psychotherapy — which has a long history of use as a prominent substance abuse therapy — continues to be a huge part of the rehabilitation process, but innovative new therapies are increasingly important to recovery today.

Among the numerous new therapies being used in the treatment of substance abuse disorder, neurofeedback therapy — also commonly referred to as neuro-biofeedback or simply Neurotherapy — is a form of biofeedback therapy that incorporates the use of real-time scans of brain activity, typically through the use of EEG (electroencephalography), to teach individuals self-regulation of key functions in their brains. Sometimes the technique is referred to as brain wave training. In many ways, neurofeedback therapy represents the merger of contemporary neuroscience with behavioral psychotherapy, merging the two separate worlds to become an intriguing and quite promising new treatment technique.

How Neurofeedback Therapy Works

As mentioned above, neurofeedback therapy employs neuroscience and behavioral health. In practice, this takes place in a session wherein the patient is outfitted with between 2 and 19 electrodes that are attached to an EEG machine, which is designed to display the brain’s electrical activities on a monitor. In short, this provides a visual representation of what is occurring inside an individual’s brain, informing the therapist of how the patient’s mind is functioning on a physical and physiological level.
But what value does the brain scan offer without tracking an individual’s brain wave patterns over time? To be clear, when a patient’s brain waves are accessed during a neurofeedback therapy session, his or her brain waves are being compared to a normative database. This database allows for a comparison to be made between the patient’s brain activity and brain activity that’s considered “normal” for someone of the patient’s age and gender. In other words, the database is what provides the baseline and the patient’s brain scan is used to determine the areas where the patient’s brain activity differs from the general public.

The electrodes that are outfitted on the patient’s head aren’t placed arbitrarily. Instead, up to 19 electrodes are placed over areas on the brain that have proven to have the highest rates of deviation with the baseline scans for that patient’s demographic. However, some of the electrodes are placed on areas like the earlobes for so-called “reference” and “ground” readings.

It’s important to remember that nothing intrusive is introduced into a patient’s brain. This form of therapy is entirely non-surgical and can be conducted without anesthesia or other surgical supplies. However, this non-invasive form of therapy can provide great incite into how a person’s brain is functioning and offers a means for therapists to detect abnormal functioning through the identification of irregular brain waves and activity patterns. Plus, once an individual’s neurological activities can be monitored on a display, it allows for a number of other types of therapies to be introduced into the equation, including the use of operant conditioning as a means of changing or controlling how a patient’s brain functions.

Neurofeedback Therapy as Addiction Treatment

There have been a number of well-known uses for neurofeedback therapy, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and even Autism. However, recently this form of treatment has seen increasing use as part of substance abuse and addiction treatment programs with the results showing that it can be a very effect tool for recovery.

One of the main reasons why increasingly innovative therapies are being used to treat addiction is because rates of relapse remain disappointingly high. The reason that relapse rates are so high is because many of the individuals who suffer from substance abuse are using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate or augment the symptoms of pre-existing, co-occurring disorders. However, neurofeedback therapy (as well as other treatment techniques) provides a way for individuals to mitigate some of the irregular activities that are occurring in their brains and putting them at risk for relapse, particularly once they’ve returned home from treatment.

Another key reason that neurofeedback therapy is useful for treating addiction is because addiction is a brain disease in a similar vain as schizophrenia and ADHD. And if addiction has so many characteristics that are consistent with other brain diseases, it stands to reason that an individual who suffers from addiction would benefit from a form of therapy that allows him or her to directly monitor and augment the brain’s irregular electrical activities. As well, while there are numerous ways to address abnormal neurological functioning, including through the use of medication, neurofeedback therapy is a much more direct way of addressing neurological irregularities while also being non-invasive and have virtually no risks or negative side effects.

Is Neurofeedback Therapy Right for You?

Although just about any form of treatment has its benefits, there are very few types of addiction therapy that are optimal for every individual or every set of recovery needs; however, neurofeedback therapy is one that almost anyone can benefit from. Even those who don’t exhibit prominent neuroelectrical abnormalities stand to experience immense benefits from neurofeedback therapy.
For one thing, this form of treatment can offer value insight into the functioning and overall health of one’s brain. Similarly, neurofeedback therapy can help to uncover previously unknown irregularities and put an individual on a path to even greater health and success in recovery.

To learn more about neurofeedback therapy, or for more information about one of our other offerings, call Coalition Recovery today. We’re available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one take the first steps on the road to recovery.

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