Neurofeedback Can Help Break the Cycle of Addiction​

Addiction is a brain disease. Most refer to it as the “brain disease model of addiction”, which has been accepted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse usually initially begins as a voluntary response, a decision that over time can turn into a habit and individuals can lose the ability to make the voluntary choice as it becomes a response to the physical dependence that the body now needs. 

There are still those individuals that view addiction is due to a moral flaw or lack of self-control; however, this is a blanket statement used by those that truly don’t understand the brain mechanics behind addiction. As I write again that – Addiction is a brain disease. 

Habitual use of drugs and/or alcohol leads to structural changes in the brain that increases the need to keep using the addicts drug of choice. Many times those experiencing mental health concerns, conditions or disorders are using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, which they feel helps initially but then becomes a larger problem. 

The best source of treatment to maintain long-term sobriety is largely due to necessary life changes. By making healthy positive changes, this can help those addicted modify negative habitual behaviors.  This includes: 

  • Attending 90 meetings in 90 days at AA, NA or CA. Then continue going long term.
  • Getting a same-gender sponsor that has maintained long term sobriety.
  • Locating an addiction specialist that can help provide the tools to combat cravings, behavioral challenges and set up a plan.
  • Adding neurofeedback to fix the root cause of the dysregulated brainwave structure to ease cravings, anxiety and other mental health concerns that can lead to choosing negative habits.

Check out – SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

How qEEG Brain Mapping can Help:

The Sinha Clinic offers qEEG Brain Mapping and neurofeedback as an option for those looking to locate those areas of the brain where brainwave activity is not functioning as it should. Once we pinpoint the problem area’s, we create a targeted plan to address the root cause and begin neurofeedback training. This consists of approximately 45-55 in-office sessions (depends on a case by case basis).  

Once the physical symptoms of addiction improve, the mental symptoms of addiction should as well, including relapse. Addressing the environmental challenges at home, work, or personal life need to be changed to a more positive environment as well. Meaning, even though that neurofeedback can help with alleviating symptoms, one who has a history of addiction shouldn’t put themselves in compromising situation that are triggers to their sobriety. Also, continuing to drink or use drugs after training for the reason being that one may think that they can go back to drinking socially will not work. 

If regulating brainwave patterns helps to improve symptoms, continuing to maintain the same negative lifestyle will not improve brainwave patterns and the necessary change won’t occur and the individual will be wasting their time and money. Addiction is a brain disease and the symptoms will return if environmental and habits do not change prior to training. 

Research to back it up:

A UCLA study found that neurofeedback can improve the rate of abstinence. Neurofeedback and addiction treatment study showed: (1) that individuals with a history of addiction tend to have a very difficult time changing their behavior (hence the 40-60 percent drug relapse rate), and (2) the brain usually experiences instability in the early stages of recovery.

The UCLA study revealed that EEG biofeedback treatment plus participation in a 12-Step program could help recovering people to accept change (from addiction to recovery) and help the brain to become stable. 

In specific, EEG treatment improved the participants’ rates of abstinence at the one-year recovery mark. The participants were able to achieve this positive outcome, in part, because EEG treatment helped to keep the brain’s cortex active when they felt like resisting change (which in this case was running away from their recovery plan or relapsing). The study noted that neurofeedback is not a standalone treatment for drug recovery, but it can be beneficial when used in conjunction with an abstinence supportive service, such as a 12-Step program or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Advancements in addiction research are increasingly understanding the need to look into the brain. In drug addiction, anyone affected by it sees the symptoms in action. The true source of the problem has been invisible with symptoms showing in the form of mental health conditions and behaviors, but not anymore. Utilizing qEEG brain maps can show those in recovery the reality of their disease thus providing the opportunity to create a tailored plan to maintain sobriety long-term and get their brain and life back to a fully functional state. 

Additional Resources:

Check out the National Helpline or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

What is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families. 

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Happens in the Best of Families

It It Feels So Bad – It Doesn’t Have To

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