Biofeedback Therapy For Addiction Recovery
Articles / Blog

Addiction is a growing problem. With various theories on the causes and much controversy over the best ways to treat it, research is constantly conducted to come up with ways to help those affected by addiction.

What is Addiction?

ASAM, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, defines addiction as “ a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

What Causes It? Common Theories of Addiction:

  • Addictive Disease ModelAlso called the medical model, this theory suggests that addiction is just like cancer or diabetes. It is progressive in nature, it is chronic, and it incurable. Addiction is attributed to genetic irregularities in brain chemistry that can be activated by drugs and alcohol.
  • Academic ModelThis theory suggests that tolerance, tissue dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and psychological dependence on a drug show that the body has adapted to the substance’s toxic effects. At the biochemical and cellular levels, the individual is different because of repeated drug and/or alcohol use.
  • Behavioral-Environmental ModelThis theory believes that environmental factors can change a person’s brain chemistry. Physical and emotional stressors in life lead people to the escape that drugs and alcohol provide, and without another alternative, users become addicts.
  • Diathesis-Stress Theory of AddictionThis theory is more all-encompassing, stating that addiction is the result of genetics, environmental factors, and the use of drugs to cope. Everything happening together creates “the perfect storm” for a life of addiction.

How Is Addiction Currently Treated?

All addicts go through the process of detoxification, which is ideally medically monitored. Next comes formal treatment, usually an inpatient residential program followed by an outpatient program. Both incorporate individual and group therapy with attention to relationships, family dynamics, and self-esteem.

Gender-specific programs are showing great success in treating the unique issues of each sex, and dual diagnosis programs are effective in treating people concurrently for two separate disorders, for example, addiction and depression, or addiction and an eating disorder.

Several months are generally spent in intensive treatment with other rehabbing peers with the first year of sobriety being fully devoted to developing a new life without drugs and alcohol. The brain and body are readjusting, and the individual needs to learn skills to cope without substances.

What New Forms of Treatment Are Being Used?

Biofeedback therapy is a tactic generally used to high blood pressure, incontinence, migraines and chronic headaches, muscle tension, pain, injuries, insomnia, and anxiety that is showing great promise in the treatment of addiction.

By monitoring blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, muscle tension, and perspiration in real time, the individual has more information about what is happening inside his or her body. If you can view these vital signs as your body’s way of communicating with you, the results of these tests, and any fluctuations, can be heard as messages from within. When we understand our body’s responses and behaviors, we can better guide our system toward what it needs.

A major problem for addicts is the disconnect from their body that’s been created from drug and alcohol abuse. With training, and then adequate practice, former addicts can regain control over body functioning and can teach themselves how to care for their bodies.

How Can Biofeedback Help Addicts?

Like meditation, the approach of biofeedback for addicts is to add another tool that links mind, body, and soul. Attunement is the goal of each practice. With breathing exercises in meditation (and yoga) that get the person in touch with his or her body and soul, and understanding what impact things are having on your vital signs (biofeedback information), individuals generally report sleeping better and experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety less often.

Overall, being in touch with yourself as a whole increases confidence and feelings of self-worth.

Where Can You Access Biofeedback for Addiction Treatment?

Several treatment centers are offering biofeedback as a part of rehab. The tool is helping people everywhere start the healing process from a life of drugs and alcohol. If you feel it could benefit your recovery, find a treatment center offering biofeedback and get started soon!


Post by: Marissa Maldonado

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