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Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment

During the 1960s, neurofeedback therapy has been employed as a brain-training technique to change people’s behaviors. Since then, it has been incorporated into comprehensive mental health treatment for those struggling with many different kinds of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.

In fact, when incorporated into a recovery plan, neurofeedback addiction treatment can help people establish a strong foundation for long-term recovery and overall well-being. At Phoenix Rising Recovery, our therapists use this modality as part of our Palm Desert, California rehab center experience.

What is Neurofeedback Therapy?

therapist and client during neurofeedback addiction treatment

First, it helps to know about neurofeedback therapy to better understand how it treats addiction. Neurofeedback therapy is a mental health treatment technique using brainwave tracking. This enables people to better control how their brain functions.

Also known as neurotherapy, neurofeedback therapy falls under the category of biofeedback therapy. Other types of biofeedback therapy involve the measurement of body temperature, heart rate, muscle tension, and breathing. The goal of biofeedback therapy is to help people take control of their bodily functions to achieve better physical or mental health.

Neurofeedback focuses on brainwave data to highlight areas that may require targeted stimulation. It helps teach self-control of certain brain functions by showing patients how their brains react to certain stimuli or triggers. For this reason, neurofeedback is commonly used to treat insomnia, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other mental health disorders.

Many therapists use neurofeedback, in tandem with other addiction counseling services, to treat substance use disorder. With this treatment, patients learn to recognize when their brain enters certain states. They then learn to recreate the desired state—such as relaxation. As well, they can avoid an undesired state—such as a state of stress or anxiety. In this way, patients undergoing neurofeedback learn to avoid the triggers that might lead them to use addictive substances.

How Does Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment Work?

Neurofeedback works by a therapist first measuring the patient’s brainwaves. This non-invasive procedure is called electroencephalography, or EEG or EEG biofeedback. The patient’s brainwaves are identified by their frequency. These frequencies are expressed in units called Hertz, or Hz. The EEG device identifies the frequency of the patient’s brainwaves at any given moment and provides immediate data to the therapist.

Below is a short glossary of brainwave-related terms:

  • When a person is in a state of deep sleep, the frequency of their brainwaves typically falls between one and four Hz. Brainwaves in this range are called delta waves.
  • If a person is awake but sleepy or entering a light sleep stage, their brainwaves will likely be measured at four to eight Hz. Brainwaves at this frequency are known as theta waves.
  • Alpha waves, which measure between eight and 12 Hz, produce a calm and relaxed state.
  • Beta waves, which range from 12 to 35 Hz, indicates concentration or deep focus.

Neurofeedback monitors brainwave activity as the patient is exposed to different stimuli. For example, the therapist might have the patient watch something on a screen. When the patient shows beta waves in response to what they’re seeing on the screen, the screen will brighten.

This encourages the patient to try replicating their brain activity in order to see the brighter screen. As the patient works with the therapist to collect this information, a brain map is created. Brain mapping is the process of creating a report of the patient’s brainwaves.

What Happens in a Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment Session?

group therapy in addition to neurofeedback addiction treatment

For all the brain activity being measured and mapped, neurofeedback is typically a low-key affair. The session begins when the patient meets with the therapist in a comfortable setting. Electrodes are attached to the patient’s scalp—a totally painless process.

The electrodes are then connected to the EEG device. The device collects data coming from the brain and provides the visual output, or map, that the therapist can look over. Afterward, the therapist and patient discuss the results.

There are no right or wrong answers in neurofeedback therapy. In short, it’s all about how the brain analyzes and processes the information it receives. A typical neurofeedback session lasts one hour.

Neurofeedback treatment can take between five and 25 sessions, depending on the patient, the patient’s specific disorder or disorders, and their progress. No set number of sessions guarantees lasting results.

What Are the Side Effects of Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment?

Numerous studies indicate that neurofeedback therapy has almost no serious side effects. A reason why there are so few serious side effects is that the procedure is non-invasive, meaning the therapist does not use instruments to cut or otherwise enter the body. Also, neurofeedback patients do not take medication.

The most common side effects of neurofeedback include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Physical pain associated with previous injuries

Many of these side effects can be lessened or avoided altogether if the sessions are done by trained therapists at a reputable facility. Fortunately, Phoenix Rising Recovery is just such a facility, with licensed medical professionals who specialize in neurofeedback. We always want our clients to have the most comfortable, effective treatment to promote their recovery journey.

Combining Multiple Treatments to Achieve Lifelong Sobriety

combining neurofeedback addiction treatment with other therapies

The gravest threat to a person’s long-term sobriety is their potential for relapse. However, that relapse potential can be minimized if the person undergoes a rigorous addiction treatment program. Such a program addresses both the substance use disorder and the behaviors that led to it. As effective as it might be, neurofeedback addiction treatment is just one therapy that addresses these behaviors.

After graduation from an addiction treatment program, it is essential to keep the recovery momentum going. Many people in recovery choose to enter a peer support group. Doing so gives a person the opportunity to practice accountability and learn to apply the coping skills they’ve learned to “real-world” situations. Most importantly, peer support keeps the relapse triggers of loneliness and boredom at bay.

As part of its aftercare program, Phoenix Rising offers alumni events. However, someone doesn’t have to limit themselves to these events. Local community groups also provide resources that help individuals protect their sobriety.

Types of Addiction Treatment Programs

There are two categories of treatment programs available at most addiction treatment facilities. These categories are inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. Both offer unique benefits, and both can include neurofeedback addiction treatment as a part of a personalized recovery plan.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient treatment occurs when the client doesn’t take up residence at the addiction treatment facility. Clients dedicate time each week to their treatment but can go home when the treatment for that week is completed. There are three levels of outpatient programs:

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): Require the most amount of time
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): Require less of a time commitment than PHPs but more than OPs
  • General outpatient programs (OPs): Require only a few hours a week of treatment

Those with a severe substance use disorder might be best served by PHPs or IOPs. On the other hand, standard outpatient programs are appropriate for those who have completed a more rigorous form of treatment prior.

Outpatient programs are suited for those who have external commitments outside of addiction treatment. For instance, many mothers may need to take care of their children and don’t have the ability to uproot where they live. Those who don’t face such issues might want to consider an inpatient program.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient treatment requires addiction treatment patients to stay at the addiction treatment facility during treatment. Inpatient is especially beneficial for those suffering from severe substance use disorders.

There are two main forms of inpatient programs offered at most addiction recovery facilities. A standard inpatient program is arguably the more intense treatment. Patients in this program must adhere to strict schedules and have little free time. Meanwhile, a residential inpatient program still requires patients to live at the facility but is less strict overall.

Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment in Palm Desert, CA

It’s tempting to adopt a wait-and-see attitude when dealing with a substance use disorder, hoping things will somehow get better all by themselves. However, because addiction is a disease that progressively worsens if left untreated, this almost never happens. Find out if adding neurofeedback addiction treatment to your recovery program is a good idea. Also, learn more about the other treatments that combine with neurofeedback.

Contact us now to talk to a caring intake advisor who can help you choose the right treatment program for you or your loved one.