How Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment Impacts Recovery

Neurofeedback addiction treatment can help you during your recovery from alcohol and substance use disorders. When you abuse substances or alcohol, your brain is damaged due to the neural pathways that substances “hijack” when used. Neurofeedback programming can help to repair the neurological damage of alcohol and substance abuse.

How Does Addiction Impact the Brain?

Alcohol or drug addiction impacts the brain by interfering with the natural chemical processes that regulate your mood, behaviors, and emotions. Most substances affect the communication within the brain between your neurotransmitters and synapses. Drugs and alcohol can flood your brain’s reward system, mimic natural chemicals in your brain, block certain chemicals from being taken back up, or impair higher-order thought processes, like judgment and decision-making.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction primarily impacts these three areas of the brain:

  1. The brain stem links the spinal column to the rest of the brain. This part of your brain is responsible for essential life functions, like breathing, blood circulation, and digestion. The brain stem also communicates what occurs in the rest of your body, like pain and other bodily sensations, to the rest of your brain.
  2. The limbic system “links together a bunch of brain structures that control our emotional responses.” When you feel angry, happy, sad, afraid, or in love, your limbic system sends chemicals through your brain. The limbic system is also responsible for the “flight or fight” response when you feel threatened.
  3. The cerebral cortex is the outer part of your brain and “makes up about three-fourths of the entire brain.” This part of the brain is responsible for processing the senses, like hearing and seeing, and complex cognitive processes, like language, problem-solving, and decision-making.

When drugs and alcohol hijack these natural processes, your neural pathways can be damaged. You might become dependent on substances or alcohol to experience any sort of pleasure at all. Since substances overstimulate the natural processes in your brain, your brain needs more time than usual to return to a state of normalcy. 

When not taking drugs or alcohol, you might feel depressed, anxious, or irritable for long periods of time as your brain recuperates from the overabundance of chemical “hijackers.” Neurofeedback can help assess and repair the damage caused by addiction.

What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback gathers information about the activity within your brain through the electrical impulses that fire along neural pathways. These electrical impulses are known as “brain waves,” and they can help you understand the way your brain is currently functioning.

As you continue with your addiction treatment, neurofeedback can provide a status update on your brain’s healing process. While addiction can cause damage to your brain, neural pathways can repair themselves with therapy, sobriety, and healthy habits. Neurofeedback addiction treatment helps you retrain and improve the way your brain processes information without using drugs and alcohol.

What Can I Expect During Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment?

During your neurofeedback treatment sessions for addiction, you can expect a progression of sessions that will improve your recovery process over time. Your sessions might follow a progression similar to these steps:

  • Initial assessment to determine what areas of the brain were damaged. Neurofeedback is non-invasive and does not require medications. Your practitioner will apply electrodes to your scalp to measure brain activity onto computer software.
  • This assessment will help understand which parts of your brain are either over- or under-active due to addiction. Some parts of your brain might have been inhibited due to addiction.
  • Your practitioner will create a treatment plan based on the assessment. During neurofeedback sessions, you will be introduced to different stimulation to activate brain waves, like music, sounds, or even video games.
  • Throughout your sessions, you will relearn how to control your brain and repair the damage that addiction has caused. Your practitioner will continue to measure brain waves to monitor your progress as you continue with your sessions.

How Does Neurofeedback Help Addiction?

Neurofeedback can help reduce symptoms of addiction, like impulsivity, irritability, mood swings, poor decision-making, and others by “exercising” your brain to repair the damage. Your brain has “neural plasticity,” meaning that you can regain functioning in damaged areas. Since addiction can affect many major brain functions, without repairing these areas of the brain, you might be tempted to continue substance and alcohol abuse. 

This treatment method can also help you heal from co-occurring mental health issues that are often at the root of addiction, like depression, anxiety, trauma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and other conditions.

Addiction is a disease, and you need to heal your brain to overcome addiction. While you can repair this damage through other methods, like therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and developing healthy coping skills for stress, neurofeedback can be a valuable part of your comprehensive addiction treatment plan.

Neurofeedback Addiction Treatment in South Florida

Neurofeedback can help you or your loved one repair the damage of addiction and heal your brain from the adverse effects of substances or alcohol. Ambrosia Treatment Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, is here to help you reclaim your life. Call us today or visit our admissions page to learn more.

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