Benefits of Neurotherapy with Addiction

Addiction is a brain disorder. It is not a lack of discipline or a moral issue. We work directly with the brain to retrain patterns of dysfunction with neurotherapy. Training helps to treat underlying conditions and support clearer thinking. This technique builds a strong foundation for recovery and relapse prevention.

In the brain, the reward network or pleasure network is the same as the addiction network, which includes the amygdala and hippocampus, as well as Brodmann areas 8, 9, 10, 30, 33. The difference is that addictive drugs (methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol, etc.) change the network dynamics by introducing neurophysiological imbalances.

Using drugs in excess activates excitatory dopaminergic neurons and makes them create excessive dopamine, which fills synaptic gaps and causes feelings of intense pleasure. When this experience is coupled with inhibitory neuron dysregulation, a snowball effect is created, which leads to an inability to restore the supplies of dopamine- resulting in intense craving for the addictive substance(s). When this happens the balance of the system is lost. A dopamine depletion and circuit dysregulation disrupt the dopamine restoration process. The reduction of dopamine is linked to depression and often addiction arises as a self-medicating attempt to deal with the depression.

Behavioral habits associated with the acquisition and use of the addictive drugs occur in the basal ganglia of the brain. Our therapeutic and behavioral strategy is to replace the drug with natural sources of pleasure whenever the craving feelings arise, thus rewiring the basal ganglia. This is the one-two punch of training addiction.

Resources on the Benefits of Neurotherapy with Addictions
  • Burkett, V. S., Cummins, J. M., Dickson, R. M., & Skolnick, M. (2005). An open clinical trial utilizing real-time EEG operant conditioning as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of crack cocaine dependence. Journal of Neurotherapy, 9(2), 27–48.
  • Callaway, T.G, Bodenhamer-Davis, E. (2008). Long-term follow-up of a clinical replication of the Peniston Protocol for chemical dependency. Journal of Neurotherapy, 12(4), 243–259.
  • deBeus, R. J. (2007). Quantitative electroencephalography-guided versus Scott/Peniston neurofeedback with substance abuse outpatients: A pilot study. Biofeedback, 35(4), 146–151.
  • Fahrion, S. L., Walters, E. D., Coyne, L., & Allen, T. (1992). Alterations in EEG amplitude, personality factors and brain electrical mapping after alpha theta brainwave training: A controlled case study of an alcoholic in recovery. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 16, 547–552.
  • Fahrion, S. L. (1995). Human potential and personal transformation. Subtle Energies, 6, 55–88.
Additional Resources
  • oldberg, R. J., et al. (1976). Alpha conditioning as an adjunct treatment for drug dependence: Part I. International Journal of Addiction, 11, 1085–1089.
  • Goldberg, R. J., et al. (1977). Alpha conditioning as an adjunct treatment for drug dependence: Part II. International Journal of Addiction, 12, 195–204.
  • Horrell, T., El-Baz, A., Baruth, J., Tasman, A., Sokhadze, G., Stewart, C., Sokhadze, E. (2010). Neurofeedback effects on evoked and induced EEG gamma band reactivity to drug-related cues in cocaine addiction. Journal of Neurotherapy, 14(3), 195–216.
  • Kelly, M. J. (1997). Native Americans, neurofeedback, and substance abuse theory: Three year outcome of alpha/theta neurofeedback training in the treatment of problem drinking among Dine= (Navajo) people. Journal of Neurotherapy, 2(3), 24–60.
  • Lamontague, Y., Hand, I., Annable, L., et al. (1975). Physiological and psychological effects of alpha and EMG feedback training with college drug users: A pilot study. Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, 20, 337–349.
  • Passini, F., Watson, C. G., Dehnel, L., Herder, J., & Watkins, B. (1977). Alpha wave biofeedback training therapy in alcoholics. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 33(1), 292299.
  • Peniston, E. G., & Kulkosky, P. J. (1989). Alpha-theta brainwave training and beta-endorphin levels in alcoholics. Alcohol: Clinical & Experimental Research, 13(2), 271279.
  • Peniston, E. G., & Kulkosky, P. J. (1991). Alcoholic personality and alpha-theta brainwave training. Medical Psychotherapy, 2, 37–55.
  • Peniston, E. G., Marrinan, D. A., Deming, W. A., & Kulkosky, P. J. (1993). EEG alpha-theta brainwave synchronization in Vietnam theater veterans with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse. Advances in Medical Psychotherapy, 6, 37–50.
  • Saxby, E., & Peniston, E. G. (1995). Alpha-theta brainwave neurofeedback training: An effective treatment for male and female alcoholics with depressive symptoms. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51(5), 685–693.
  • Schneider, F., Elbert, T., Heimann, H., Welker, A., Stetter, F., Mattes, R., Birbaumer, N., & Mann, K. (1993). Self-regulation of slow cortical potentials in psychiatric patients: Alcohol dependency. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 18, 23–32.
  • Scott, W., & Kaiser, D. (1998). Augmenting chemical dependency treatment with neurofeedback training. Journal of Neurotherapy, 3(1), 66.
  • Scott, W. C., Kaiser, D., Othmer, S., Sideroff, S. I. (2005) Effects of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 31(3), 455-469.
  • Sokhadze, E., Stewart, C., Hollifield, M., Tasman, A. (2008). Event-related potential study of executive dysfunctions in a speeded reaction task in cocaine addiction. Journal of Neurotherapy, 12(4), 185–204.
  • Sokhadze, E., Singh, S., Stewart, C., Hollifield, M., El-Baz, A., Tasman, A. (2008). Attentional bias to drug-and stress-related pictorial cues in cocaine addiction comorbid with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, 12(4), 205–225.
  • Sokhadze, E. M., Cannon R. L., & Trudeau D. L. (2008) EEG biofeedback as a treatment for Substance Use Disorders: review, rating of efficacy, and recommendations for further research. Journal of Neurotherapy, 12(1), 5–43.
  • Sokhadze, T. M., Stewart, C. M., & Hollifield, M. (2007). Integrating cognitive neuroscience and cognitive behavioral treatment with neurofeedback therapy in drug addiction comorbid with posttraumatic stress disorder: A conceptual review. Journal of Neurotherapy, 11(2), 13–44.
  • Sokhadze, T. M., Cannon, R. L., & Trudeau, D. L. (2008). EEG biofeedback as a treatment for substance use disorders: Review, rating of efficacy, and recommendations for further research. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 33(1), 1–28.
  • Trudeau, D. L. (2008) Brainwave biofeedback for addictive disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, 12(4), 181–183.
  • Trudeau, D. L. (2005). Applicability of brain wave biofeedback to substance use disorder in adolescents. Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14(1), 125136.
  • Trudeau, D. L. (2000). The treatment of addictive disorders by brain wave biofeedback: A review and suggestions for future research. Clinical Electroencephalography, 31(1), 1322.
  • Watson, C. G., Herder, J., & Passini, F. T. (1978). Alpha biofeedback therapy in alcoholics: An 18-month follow-up. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 34(3), 765–769.

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