Neurotherapy Treatment for Addiction

Brain Activity, conceptual computer artwork
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Many people facing addiction issues end up relapsing, sometimes several times. In some cases, they can be in and out of rehabilitation programs for years without effectively ending their addiction. 

Neurotherapy, also known as neurofeedback, is an approach to therapy that can help successfully end the cycle of addiction. 

Why Addictions Are Difficult to Treat

Unfortunately, addiction is still associated with some stigmas, with some people thinking addiction is caused by weakness, poor self-control or a lack of discipline. This can cause those struggling with addictions to be filled with guilt, shame, and anxiety, making the path to recovery even more difficult.

Addiction is a real physiological condition, which is why it is so hard to treat. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, 5th edition, the manual used by healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat patients, recognizes addiction as a distinct mental health disorder.

Addictive disorders can be severely debilitating, impacting every area of a person's life. 

Most treatment models focus on 30-day inpatient stays. However, these programs have a very high relapse rate. More intensive models with a longer duration have higher success rates, but many insurance plans won't cover them. People are left unable to re-acclimate to their normal lives after treatment, increasing the risk of relapse. 

What Is Neurotherapy?

Unlike other approaches to therapy, neurotherapy treats addiction by focuses on retraining the brain. Many people relapse during times of extreme emotions or stress, so neurotherapy works by teaching techniques that will soothe and calm the brain functions, allowing the person to make rational decisions with a clear mindset. 

For some, medication may be used to help reset the brain's thinking. This is only a step in recovery and not a long-term solution. Neurotherapy retrains the brain so that even without medication, the person can stay substance-free beyond the 30-day rehabilitation stage. 

Neurotherapy is usually included as part of a comprehensive approach to therapy, working alongside other methods like medication, support groups or talk therapy. Studies have shown that when neurotherapy is included in the recovery plan, 85% more of the patients are treated effectively. 

How Does It Work?

Neurotherapy corrects dysfunctional brain activity that causes irrational behaviors that lead to addiction disorders. Neurotherapy aims to "fix" the malfunctioning areas linked to arousal, connectivity, and impulse control by replacing these negative behaviors with healthier reactions and habits. This type of therapy requires the patient to be an active participant and helps him or her to be aware of triggers that cause them to engage in addiction. Through neurotherapy, a person gets the necessary tools they need to successfully beat their addiction. 

While many people dismiss addictions as a personal weakness, addictive disorders are real and damaging mental illnesses. They require intensive treatment, often involving several different aspects to treat psychological and physiological factors contributing to addiction. Through neurotherapy or neurofeedback, people are given the tools to overcome the malfunctioning of the brain that triggers addictive behaviors. Neurotherapy gives them the chance to beat their addiction, and not relapse, for the long-term. 

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Article Sources
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  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, 5th edition. 2013. 
  • Fateme, D., Rostami, R., Nadali, H. "Neurofeedback Training for Opiate Addiction: Improvement of Mental Health and Craving". Applied Psychophysiological Biofeedback, 133-141, 2013.