Neurofeedback

At Challenges Addiction Treatment and Relapse Prevention Center, we use Neurofeedback as one of many methods of treating drug and alcohol addiction.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is direct training of brain function, by which the brain learns to function more efficiently. It is based on electrical brain activity and utilizes an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to measure and monitor brain functioning. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. It is simply biofeedback applied to the brain. Self-regulation is a necessary part of good brain function. Self-regulation training allows the central nervous system to function better, and is something everyone can benefit from. The good news is that almost any brain, regardless of its level of function, can be trained to function better.

Neurofeedback for Addiction

Alcohol and drugs are psychoactive substances. They act in the brain and their effects represent changes in neurological functioning. It is possible to learn to control one’s brain states from within without the use of drugs and alcohol. In this way, addictions can be overcome without a lifetime of struggle and craving. Neurofeedback trains the brain to become more or less activated. Research has demonstrated that neurofeedback can be helpful as an adjunctive module in the treatment of alcoholism, and in remediating damage done through drug abuse.

Neurofeedback and Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorders

A person who has both a substance abuse problem and an emotional/psychiatric problem is said to have a dual diagnosis. To recover fully, the person needs treatment for both problems. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services states alcohol and other drug use can both cause psychiatric symptoms and mimic psychiatric disorders, and psychiatric disorders can mimic addictive disorders. With over 70% of addicts suffering from co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis), this fact is vital to successful treatment. Depression, anxiety and symptoms relating to bipolar disorders, as well as some symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorders, can result from alcohol and drug use. Persons who actually suffer from such disorders may find some relief in drug use. Alcohol and drug use can also cause, worsen or mask psychiatric symptoms and disorders.

Neurofeedback is a revolutionary non-invasive procedure that can improve symptoms of a variety of behavioral disorders, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities and mental illness; all which have the potential to contribute to addiction. Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback and a technique designed to teach people how to control their brain waves, even in times when anxiety or depression may occur. Neurofeedback can treat mental health symptoms the same way, because neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. As the patient’s brain function improves, and so does their ability to deal with anxiety, depression, or addiction, This allows subjects to help prevent onset of and decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety or addiction use or relapse by maintaining a brainstate which allows the subject to better cope with the situation at hand.

How is Neurofeedback done?

First a comprehensive assessment is conducted to gather information involving a personal history and current symptoms. In the following sessions, electrodes are applied directly to your scalp. This is necessary to measure and monitor your brainwave activity. The signal is processed by the computer and we extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. We show the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person, who attempts to change the activity level. Some frequencies we wish to increase. Others we wish to diminish, or cause to occur less often. We present this information to the person in the form of a video game or a movie. The person is effectively controlling the video game or movie with their brain. Eventually the brainwave activity is shaped toward more desirable and regulated performance. The frequencies we target and the specific locations on the scalp where we listen in on the brain area specific to the conditions and symptoms we are trying to address. Neurofeedback treatment is specific to the individual.

A person participates in 20-30 minute sessions. The goal of each session is to optimize brain functioning. You will experience this as a physiological state of being calm and/or relaxed and a cognitive state of being focused. This is our goal each and every neurofeedback session. The person is an active part of their neurofeedback treatment. A person’s feedback on their experience is an important aspect of treatment.