Benefits of Neurofeedback Therapy in Addiction Treatment

man showing virtual brains on open palm, idea concept

Contributor: Nikki Baker, Content Writer at JourneyPure.

Think back to the first time you learned to ride a bike. You probably remember some feelings you were experiencing – fear, excitement, maybe a little trepidation.

What you weren’t aware of is how your brain was responding to this new activity, which requires mental focus and an incredible amount of balance. Gravity is sending feedback to the brain, which causes it to self-regulate its state of balance. [1]

The more you ride the bike, the better you get. Your balance improves. Your confidence improves. Just like that, there’s no real thought that goes into it. Your brain is used to this new activity. And as the old saying goes, “Once you ride a bike, you never forget.

The same principles apply when it comes to the brain’s reaction to substance abuse. Our brain is incredibly powerful, controlling everything we do and constantly taking in feedback from our environment.

Negative feedback from excessive drug use changes the brain because it is receiving 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine it’s used to receiving.

Woman struggling with aggressionThis high is unnatural and can’t be maintained, therefore the user spirals into a state of depression, using more and more in an attempt to achieve a new level of high.

Addiction is not easy to overcome because it is a chronic, relapsing brain disease. [2]

Across the country, addiction treatment facilities are incorporating Neurofeedback, or EEG Biofeedback Therapy, as a complementary treatment modality.

Utilized for decades to help individuals with mental health disorders like PTSD, ADHD, depression and anxiety, Neurofeedback has been gaining ground as an effective method of treatment for substance abuse.

How Neurofeedback Therapy Works

A session may look like a scene from an old science fiction movie, but there’s nothing to fear.

Neurofeedback Therapy is conducted using a software that conveys information, sounds and visuals to a patient’s brain by way of sensors attached to the scalp. Using brain maps, the software identifies dysfunctional patterns in the brain and aids in its natural ability to self-regulate.

When a patient undergoes addiction treatment, their brain is either in a state of overarousal or underarousal. Just think of the different array of drugs and their effect on the brain, in addition to any mental health issues. Treatments are individualized based on the patient’s case history. The software provides rewards to the brain when it responds in a calm, rational manner.

Over time, this process helps the patient reduce impulsive and reactive behavior during stressful situations, which for an addict, can signal relapse. [3]

Why Choose Neurofeedback Therapy for Addiction?

Many clinicians choose Neurofeedback Therapy as a treatment modaPortrait of depressed man sitting on the floorlity because it is non-invasive, non-drug-induced and produces no negative side effects. Research indicates an 85 percent success rate for patients in terms of improvements in their ability to focus, regulate behavior, and reduce impulsivity, which all help in reducing relapse. [4}

Dr. Tamara Roth, EMDR therapist, is a trained Neurofeedback provider and has seen the benefits first-hand. “I have witnessed hundreds of people reach a state of calm they have never felt in their life without drugs or alcohol,” she said. “I’ve seen insomniacs get a full night of sleep and have their entire outlook changed. I’ve witnessed people with chronic seizures never experience another one again. I’ve seen chronic migraines go away.

About the Author:

Nikki BakerNikki Baker joined JourneyPure as a Content Writer in April 2017. She is responsible for social media, website and blog content that both informs the public about the addiction crisis in this country and recognizes JourneyPure as a leader in addiction treatment.

She began her career at The Nashville City Paper as an Education Reporter, covering Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, writing both news and feature articles. The bulk of her career has been spent in nonprofit. Prior to joining JourneyPure, served 13 years at PENCIL Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to link community resources with Nashville public schools. Throughout her tenure, she held roles in program management, partnership and volunteer recruitment and management as well as communications management.

Nikki graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts, journalism from Belmont University in Nashville. She is originally from upstate NY but has lived in the Nashville area since 1992. She enjoys spending time with her 13-year-old daughter and their two dogs.



The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on July 14, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 14, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.