The treatment of addiction has been a slow progression; in years past many therapeutic, medical, and scientific methods of treatment were unknown. But today, advancements in the fields of psychology and psychiatry have made the process easier and more effective.

One of the most successful modes of intervention currently being implemented is neurofeedback. This type of therapy is proven to be successful in helping patients to sustain their long-term recovery.


The Nature of Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is based on biofeedback, a type of therapy that has been successful for decades in treating physical ailments. Its technology and strategy were adopted by mental health professionals in treating patients suffering from drug addiction, substance abuse, epilepsy, PTSD and other brain-related disorders.

In biofeedback,

  • The patient is attached to electronic devices that measure specific body processes such as blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate, and temperature.
  • The medical provider helps the patient change her involuntary physical processes so that she can obtain her desired healthy condition. Thus the patient is healed of her high blood pressure, urinary incontinence, migraines, and other physical ailments.

Likewise, in neurofeedback,

  • The patient with a mental disorder is attached to devices that measures and displays her brain reactions to certain stimuli.
  • The mental health provider then guides her to respond positively and not negatively as she used to, if presented with a stimulus that influences her behavior.

She is attached to a device called EEG or electroencephalography machine. It reads her brain’s activity and the information is sent back to the therapist. The patient then tries to respond to the information by adjusting her brain’s activity.

She may not be aware that she is even doing anything. But the process of neurofeedback enables the EEG machine to read the information and send it to the therapist to see if the patient is adjusting her brain activity appropriately.

This feedback process has successfully treated many patients suffering from addiction and other mental illnesses and helped them sustain their recovery for the rest of their lives.

``In my 38 years of practice, I have never seen any treatment that comes close to producing the results that neurofeedback offers. I have seen results achieved in days and weeks that previously took months and years to achieve, using the best methods available to me. `` – Jack Woodward, M. D. Board Certified Psychiatrist

The Neurofeedback Process

This therapy uses a computer-based model that stimulates the patient’s brain responses and rewires it in a positive and healthy way. A computer guides her brain’s natural ability to heal itself and enhances its efficient functioning.

In some cases, the patient is hooked up to a virtual reality device and is instructed to play a video game without using her hands. Thus, her brain is the sole controller of the game.

Since she wants to win the game, her brain tries hard to win. This influences her brain to produce specific brain waves while reducing the production of others. If her brain will not pattern itself correctly, she will lose.

But as her brain starts to respond to audible and visual cues that the game provides, her brain will learn to produce new brain wave patterns which eventually help her win the game.

The Success of Neurofeedback

The efficacy of neurofeedback in treating PTSD was proven by the successful treatment of many veterans returning from their tour of duties suffering from this mental illness. As a result, this therapy is now being widely used in the intervention of other brain disorders such as ADHD.

``EEG biofeedback meets the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry criteria for a clinical guideline (CG) for the treatment of ADHD, seizure disorders, anxiety (OCD, GAD, PTSD, phobias), depression, reading disabilities, and addictive disorders. This suggests that EEG biofeedback should always be considered as an intervention for these disorders by the clinician. `` – Special issue of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America

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