Fighting Addiction with a Neurofeedback Therapy Program

female therapist talking with client in a neurofeedback therapy programThey say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But they’ve clearly never heard of neurofeedback training. Change is hard. It’s even harder when the change you’re trying to make is breaking an addiction. AspenRidge uses neurofeedback training as part of our comprehensive approach to addiction recovery.

Neurofeedback therapy sounds scary and complicated. But that’s not the case. This article will help you understand how it can help you. We’ll explain what neurofeedback therapy is. We’ll also cover how it works and how it’s used. After that, we’ll look at what makes it different from other options. Finally, we’ll explain how neurofeedback training can help you escape addiction.

Use this information to make informed choices about your recovery options. We want you to have every tool to fight your addiction. Neurofeedback training is one of the most effective tools available today.

What is Neurofeedback Therapy?

Everyone’s heard the expression that practice makes perfect. Neurofeedback training is a way to help your brain practice. The technique uses eclectroencephalogram technology, or EEG biofeedback.

The process begins by applying special scanners to your head. They are called electrodes. They read brainwave activity. There’s no surgery involved. The electrodes come right off when you’re done.

After that happens, you pretty much play a video game. There’s one difference. Instead of playing with a controller or keyboard and mouse, you play with your brain. The electrodes show you your brain activity. The goal is to promote some brainwave frequencies and minimize others.

A Brief History of Neurofeedback Training

It may surprise many people, but the basic processes for neurofeedback training have been around since the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Dr. Joe Kamiya and Dr. Barry Sterman discovered neurofeedback while working at the University of Chicago and UCLA.

They started by experimenting with consciousness. Dr. Kamiya found that, using a simple reward system, people could learn to alter their brain activity. This was a groundbreaking discovery at the time.

“Dr. Sterman advanced the process with an experiment with cats. He set up a device that gave cats a food pellet when then increased their sensory motor rhythm. The machine gave the cats the food pellet whenever they were successful. He found that the cats were able to quickly adjust their brainwaves to get the treat.”

He found out that most of the cats experienced brain instability when exposed to the fumes. But the cats that were part of the earlier study were immune. They had incredibly stable brains as a result of the training he had done with them.

He then moved on to humans. He tested how neurofeedback worked with epilepsy. He found that 60% of his patients could reduce their seizure levels. The reductions were as much as 20-100%. Moreover, the results stuck. They didn’t backslide and start having more seizures.

This research formed the basis for neurofeedback training. Until this point in time, people thought that the brain was wired a certain way. They thought that the brain developed until a certain age. Once a person reached that age, their brain stopped developing.

The new research showed that this model isn’t how the brain works. Instead, these researchers discovered neuroplasticity. We’ll talk more about this concept later. But it’s essentially the idea that the brain can be changed.

How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?

In the modern day, neurofeedback training comes in the form of a video game. Playing the game activates the reward centers in your brain. This helps you train your brain to think certain ways. It’s very similar to an athlete practicing their skills. Their brain rewards them for meeting goals. The reward makes the athlete want to train more.

This works for many mental health conditions. Many psychologists and counselors use it with their patients.

It works by teaching yourself to recognize certain thought patterns. Those patterns show negative thoughts. Neurofeedback training allows you to change bad thoughts into good thoughts.

It’s easy to see how this is helpful for people recovering from addiction. The method helps you train your mind to overcome the desire to use.


“One of the reasons that the therapy is so effective is because it’s actually fun. After all, getting better is a hard process. This is true for any mental health issue, not just addiction.”


It’s important to note that all of the “work” is done by the person. The electrodes just give readings. Neurofeedback training doesn’t pump electricity into your brain. The machines and devices don’t try to change you in anyway.

Instead, they serve as tools. These tools let you use your natural abilities more effectively. They don’t change who you are. They also don’t require any drugs or medication.


Relaxation is the Key

One of the main causes of substance abuse is stress and anxiety. Neurofeedback training helps people handle these issues. It makes the brain tougher. It’s better able to resist the effects of stress and anxiety.The studies done have found that people with alcoholism and their children have different brain structures. These structures make it more difficult for them to relax. However, alcohol causes them to relax and helps them escape stress and anxiety.

That’s why some people have a genetic predisposition to abusing alcohol. They are, without realizing it, trying to self-medicate.

Neurofeedback training works because of something called neuroplasticity. This concept is incredibly important when it comes to understanding how the process works, so we’ll cover it in more detail.


Neuroplasticity and Brain Training

It may not be obvious, but the brain is very good at changing and adapting. It actually alters its physical structure based on how we interact with our environment. Understanding neuroplasticity is a crucial component to neurofeedback training. It’s also essential for helping people recover from brain injuries and similar trauma.

Addiction is actually a very good example of how neuroplasticity works. For example, the reason that things like withdrawal symptoms happen is because the brain gets used to drugs or alcohol. It adapts how it functions to account for expected doses of drugs or booze.

That’s one of the reasons why addictions are so difficult to overcome. An addict’s brain has re-wired itself. It does so in a way to allow it to take advantage of the effects of drugs and alcohol. Amphetamine addiction serves as an excellent example.

Amphetamines force the brain to produce dopamine. That’s the chemical the brain releases as a reward for doing something good. Amphetamines cause the brain to produce this chemical much more than it would naturally.

An amphetamine-addicted brain re-wires itself. It doesn’t send the signals to produce dopamine. That’s because the drug does that for the brain. That means that when someone stops taking speed their brain isn’t getting the dopamine it’s used to.

The result of this situation is withdrawal symptoms. However, if your brain can adapt to drugs, it can re-adapt to life without drugs. Neurofeedback training takes this premise and combines it with modern technology. It helps you consciously train your brain. The result is better success rates for addiction and other mental health treatments.

We use neurofeedback training as part of our comprehensive recovery program. We want to help you be the best version of yourself. That’s why the training is only part of what we do, not all of it.

How is Neurofeedback Training Used?

Neurofeedback training is used for many things. One of the most common uses is for ADD and ADHD. These disorders happen because of the way the brain works. The training lets people spot when they lose focus.

Once they see that, a person can take steps to fix it. This helps them develop better focus and attention over time.

The method is also used for other mental health disorders. Some of the most common applications include things like anxiety, depression, and phobias. Essentially, the training can help with any problem that doesn’t come from physical damage to the brain.

What Makes Neurofeedback Different from Other Options?

There are several things that makes neurofeedback training different from other options. That’s not to say that other methods don’t have value. In fact, we think that neurofeedback training is best used as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation program. A good rehab program should include things like diet, exercise, and multiple types of therapy. However, other methods don’t have the kind of direct access to the brain that neurofeedback training offers. They also don’t always come in the form of video games that you play with your mind.


Direct Brain Interaction

Other forms of therapy center on talking and explaining emotions. The therapist helps their patient understand their thoughts. They help the patient spot bad thoughts. They also help the patient move themselves toward more productive ways of thinking.

However, communication is difficult. It’s especially difficult when you’re talking about something that isn’t part of your everyday life. While you think and have emotions and thoughts all the time, it’s not the norm to talk about those things at length with other people.

That means that traditional therapy uses an indirect method to help people understand their thoughts. This is still very effective. However, it doesn’t provide the sort of direct access that neurofeedback training offers.

The information you get from the electrodes used in neurofeedback therapy change all that. They show the brainwaves that you’re forming in real time. They also show you how different types of thoughts affect those brainwave patterns.

All of that information is something that you don’t get with traditional therapy. Keep in mind, neurofeedback training isn’t a replacement for traditional therapy. Instead, you should think of it as another tool in the toolbox of medical professionals.


Turning Work Into Play

The other thing that sets neurofeedback training apart from other methods is that it turns work into play. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take the process seriously. In fact, the opposite is true.

However, turning the process into a video game that you control with your mind does have advantages. First, the novelty of the idea amazes most people. After all, most people think of video games as something you use a controller or mouse and keyboard for.

Additionally, most people don’t think of video games as something serious. They are mostly used for play. That makes the difficult process of rewiring your own brain into something fun. That’s a perk that traditional forms of therapy simply can’t match.

Also, one of the most difficult parts of any recovery is not thinking about your substance of choice. When you’re used to drugs and alcohol, the process of getting and staying sober can seem boring. That’s because your brain has adapted itself to substances.

But when you flip the script and make the process of staying sober into a game, everything changes. Instead of something you dread, therapy can be fun and relaxing. This increases the effectiveness of therapy.

That has benefits of its own. Adding a gaming element to treatment gives all treatment strategies a better association. That means your brain will more quickly learn to look forward to treatment. This is a far more effective outlook than viewing treatment as something you need to get through.

Neurofeedback Training and Addiction

Given the potential of neurofeedback training, it’s no surprise that people have started using it to treat addiction. The process is successful in several ways. It’s well-known that relapse rates for addicts are high. It’s also well-known that the recovery process is difficult.

Neurofeedback therapy offers a solution to both of these problems. As Dr. Sterman first discovered, the training makes brains more resilient to change. That means you have more control over your brain. You can decide what it wants and how it operates.

Dr. Sterman and Dr. Kamiya aren’t the only people to research this method. There are lots of studies and academic papers that explore neurofeedback. These papers and studies are almost universally positive.

They show that people who use neurofeedback training are less likely to relapse. They stay in treatment longer. This helps them get firmer footing on the road to recovery. Also, the amount of time someone stays in treatment is a critical factor in their chances of recovering.

Another study found that EEG biofeedback doubled the rate of recovery for addicts. That’s a huge finding. It shows that science and technology can help beat addiction. The linked study found that more than 50% of people who used the training were drug-free after a year.

Another study found that the training is effective for people struggling with alcoholism. This study explored how substance abuse relates to stress and anxiety. They found that training reduces chronic anxiety. That makes people less likely to seek relief from substances like alcohol.

There’s still more. A study in 2008 found that neurofeedback therapy helps people stop looking at themselves in a negative light. That’s very important. Self-image plays a huge role in addiction. This is partially because of the way that we view addiction. Many people think that addiction is a moral failing. However, these studies show that it’s a disease, rather than a problem with your soul.

Opiate abuse is one of the biggest addiction issues America faces today. EEG Biofeedback training can help people overcome opiate addiction. Also, this study found that people had better general mental health outcomes when they used the training. This shows that the method can be effective for treating addiction. It can also help people with a dual-diagnosis.

That means that the training can be effective for helping people with addiction and PTSD together. It can also help people with other mental health issues and addiction. That includes things like anxiety, depression, and more.

Long-Term Solutions are the Goal

One of the best parts of neurofeedback training is that it works long-term. After all, no one wants to go through a recovery program if they’re going to be using again in less than a year. We work to make sure that you get clean and stay clean.

Training your brain to think the way you want it to helps this situation. It helps you realize when you’re getting close to using again. That allows you to change your behavior and seek help changing the way you’re thinking. As a result, you’re more likely to get clean and stay clean.

Find Out if AspenRidge Recovery Fort Collins is Right for You

Addictions are hard to beat. Moreover, every addiction is different. Just like every person is different. That’s why we want to make sure that our program is the best option for you. Call or contact us today to get more information. We’ll talk you through our programs. We’ll discuss the different options you have available. Also, we’ll answer any questions you might have. That includes anything from the food options to complex questions about insurance.

AspenRidge Recovery Fort Collins is one of the premiere addiction recovery centers in Colorado. We live to help people become their best selves. We do that by helping our patients along their road to recovery. Addiction doesn’t have to determine who you are. You have options. We’d love to help you explore them. Call or Contact us now.


Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They’ll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.