Addiction is a devastating disease which is quite complex and involves many types of social, biological, and psychological factors. About 50% of the risk for an addiction is genetic. For those without the genetic heritability, addiction involves changes in many brain structures that increase the behavioral components of addition.
Drugs, alcohol, food, gambling and even shopping can hijack the pleasure or reward circuits in the brain and hook the addict into wanting more and more. In addition, repeated use of a vice can damage the essential decision-making center at the front part of the brain making you more likely to continue using.
Addiction can result in overstimulated or under stimulated brain wave functioning that needs to be balanced. Neurofeedback therapy can be used to reward the brain and nervous system for calming itself and conversely be used to stimulate an unresponsive system. Much research supports neurofeedback’s effective use to support addicts in reducing cravings, anxiety, and mood lability.
Research on Neurofeedback for Addictions/Substance Abuse:
EEG Biofeedback as a Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
Sokhadze, Cannon & Trudeau (2008)
EEG biofeedback has been employed in substance use disorder (SUD) over the last three decades. The SUD is a complex series of disorders with frequent comorbidities and EEG abnormalities of several types. EEG biofeedback has been employed in conjunction with other therapies and may be useful in enhancing certain outcomes of therapy.
Neurofeedback Training for Opiate Addiction: Improvement of Mental Health and Craving [pdf]
Psychological improvements in patients with substance use disorders have been reported after neurofeedback treatment. However, neurofeedback has not been commonly accepted as a treatment for substance dependence. This study was carried out to examine the effectiveness of this therapeutic method for opiate dependence disorder. The specific aim was to investigate whether treatment leads to any changes in mental health and substance craving. The study supports the effectiveness of neurofeedback training as a therapeutic method in opiate dependence disorder, in supplement to pharmacotherapy.
Effects of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population [pdf]
Alcohol and drug abuse is an ongoing societal and treatment problem. While major resources have been employed to study and treat addiction, there has been little significant improvement in the success rate of treatment. Relapse rates remain high, typically over 70%. Gossop et al. reported 60% of heroine addicts relapsed one year following addiction treatment. Peniston and associates have demonstrated significantly higher abstinence rates with alcoholics when they incorporated EEG biofeedback into the treatment protocol. Eighty percent of subjects in these experiments were abstinent one-year posttreatment.