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Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Addiction

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Neurofeedback seems to be especially effective in treating conditions or diseases that are affected by stress. In short, the neurofeedback helps correct the feelings that would normally arise during times of stress, by re-training the brainwaves to modulate at frequencies that are more consistent with a calm, non-stressed state of mind and body.

How successful is neurofeedback for alcoholism? One recent study found that, during a twenty-four month observation period after the neurofeedback therapy sessions had ended, eight of the ten participants did not drink. Interestingly, all of the participants in the non-neurofeedback group started drinking again during the same twenty-four month period.

What makes neurofeedback therapy so successful in the treatment of alcoholism?

Just ask anyone why they started to drink again after quitting, and they'll say "The cravings!" When asked to describe "cravings" in terms of how it feels, it's not too surprising to find that the feelings are identical to feelings of stress. In fact, stressful situations can often trigger a setback, even in someone who has remained sober for some time. Could it be as simple as no stress, no craving?

For those who have been so successful leaving alcohol behind because of neurofeedback, it would seem so. Ask them what they like most about drinking and they will tell you "It relaxes me!" Again, in the absence of stress, we find none other than--you guessed it--relaxation.

Up to this point, we have not mentioned drugs, but have only been talking about alcohol. However, alcohol is a drug, and people who are addicted to drugs like cocaine struggle with the cycle of quitting and relapsing for pretty much the same reasons that alcoholics do. You may hear that one drug is far more addictive than another is, but at its core, that means that the feelings and cravings are stronger. Which means that neurofeedback therapy can be just as successful in treating drug addiction as it is with alcohol addiction.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of neurofeedback therapy is the fact that for many conditions, the results tend to be far more resistant to change when compared to other methods of treatment. Some researchers have even hinted at the results as being permanent. Not only that, but when used in conjunction with other types of therapy, neurofeedback has the potential to radically increase the overall effectiveness of any treatment, resulting in a very favorable outcome.

Any time we can assist someone in moving from a stressful state to a calm and relaxed frame of mind, and keep him or her from engaging in addictive and destructive behavior, we will have significantly increased the probability for success. Fortunately, with neurofeedback, this is not only possible, but it is predictable as well.

Many people have already set themselves free from drug and alcohol addiction with the help of neurofeedback therapy. The brain can be trained not to experience stress in a context that had been stressful before. Then, where you once found a craving, you will now find peace.

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Dr. Clare Albright is a psychologist and neurofeedback practitioner in Orange County, CA. She is the author of, "Neurofeedback: Tranforming Your Life with Brain Biofeedback" Dr. Albright has been counseling in Orange County for over 26 years.

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