Neurofeedback News:

Substance Abuse

Neurofeedback in Treatment of Substance Abuse
By Stephen Sideroff, PhD

Over the last two decades neurofeedback has shown promise in the treatment of substance abuse. This article addresses how it works, what makes it so effective, why it is a potentially important tool in addiction, the neurophysiological issues it might address, the existing promising research and, most importantly, that neurofeedback can be a significant adjunct to the therapeutic and counseling process with addicts.

The category of disorders associated with substance abuse is the most common psychiatric set of conditions affecting an estimated 22 million people in this country (SAMHSA, 2004). Furthermore, the disorder is accompanied by serious impairments of cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning. These conditions and symptoms so significantly alter a person's brain and its functioning, that we often refer to the drug as hijacking the brain, making it very difficult to think logically and appropriately weigh the consequences of the drug related behavior.

Detoxified addicts have been shown to have significant alterations in brain electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns and children of addicts also exhibit EEG patterns that are significantly different than normal (Sokhadze et al., 2008, for review). This indicates that, not only are we dealing with the neurological consequences of drug-related behavior, but there appears to be a genetic pattern as well, that places certain people at greater risk for addictive behaviors. The complexity of these factors makes the treatment of addiction one of the most difficult areas of mental, emotional and physical rehabilitation.

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