Biofeedback therapy for addiction treatment is proving useful in helping addicts to cope with withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms come with complications and the probability of individual relapsing is very high. As a result, medical professionals seek to identify strategies to help addicts recover in the long-term.
Biofeedback therapy is a technique that teaches an individual how to control bodily functions. The concept behind this technique is to help the person improve the overall function of their body. During withdrawal, it gets hard to control some bodily functions. One experiences involuntary actions when deciding to stop substance abuse. This may include withdrawal symptoms such as twitching and high blood pressure.
During withdrawal, there are symptoms that can be extreme with the individual having difficulties even in going through them. These include chronic pain, especially if the addict was dependent on the substance and the drug was being abused over a very long period. Other symptoms include high blood pressure, persistent headaches, and an increase in stress levels. The person will also have problems relaxing, especially because the absence of the drug causes discomfort.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, they define addiction as a chronic and relapsing brain disease. This is the reason why a person experiences compulsive and dysfunctional behaviors.
How it Works
Biofeedback is a therapeutic process that tries to connect the mind and the body. Its theory revolves around the idea that if you can improve your awareness of your bodily functions, you can, in turn, boost your physical and emotional health. It works by attaching electrical sensors to the body. These sensors have the ability to measure heart rate, muscle tension, brain waves, sweat glands, breathing, as well as temperature. Addicts are able to improve their cravings, manage withdrawal, as well as minimize relapse while they seek long-term treatment.
This technique measures the alpha and beta brainwaves. The doctor will place electrodes on your scalp and with the help of special machinery; the addict will be able to receive visual and auditory information. The information will be relayed on a computer screen. In turn, the doctor will be able to tell the effects of substance abuse on the body.
Why is Biofeedback Therapy Effective?
When you are abusing drugs, you will make involuntary changes to your brain. This is the reason people get “high” and seem to like the effect. As a result, you end up changing the chemical makeup of your brain. Over time, with substance abuse, the brain registers the addiction and the chemical alteration of the brain becomes more established. This, in turn, leads to dependence on the drug because the brain is not functioning at its best and neither is it functioning as it should normally.
Withdrawal symptoms leave a patient feeling anxious, restless, physically ill, irritable, and in extreme cases, the patient will fall into depression. The cravings also get worse and this may increase the chances of a relapse. Biofeedback for addiction treatment helps the individual in the following ways.
- Diminishing drug cravings
- It has the ability to minimize episodes of relapse
- You stand a better chance of managing withdrawal symptoms
- Reducing impulsivity
- You will decrease self-destructive behaviors
- It contributes towards stress management
- It improves your emotional health (controlling moods and emotions) as well as improving your ability to sleep better
- It helps in heightening cognitive abilities.
The brain influences an individual’s thinking and active abilities. In this, the brainwaves influence the individual’s thoughts and feelings. The therapist identifies how your brain waves are functioning and takes note of the areas that need improvement.
Biofeedback also comes in handy as part of a treatment plan for co-occurring disorders. Individuals who are dependent on a drug or alcohol will experience mental disorders such as mood and anxiety disorders.
Benefits of Biofeedback Therapy as an Addiction Treatment
Treatment of addiction varies and depending on the individual state of mind and addiction symptoms, doctors determine what treatment plan is best for the individual as they hope to prevent a relapse. Whereas the treatment plans have different impacts, biofeedback has a similar effect across all its patients.
The process is painless. All the patient has to do is sit and try to relax and the machinery carries out the desired tests. The machine will then relay the necessary information on the computer for the doctor to analyze. The patient and doctor will then work together to make the necessary adjustments. There are no needles or harsh and bitter drugs to swallow.
The therapeutic process is not dependent on medication. It, therefore, reduces the risk of any interactions if present. This makes it safe for everyone. In addition, this technique works well with other traditional therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
It also addresses both emotional and physical addiction concerns. Many treatment plans on their own tend to address one of the two. They will provide treatment for a given condition, whereas biofeedback aims at altering one part of the body to address a majority of the withdrawal symptoms.
As a therapeutic technique, it reduces stress levels, which helps to control emotional distress. This is one of the biggest concerns addicts are facing. Not just during treatment, but it is also the reason they become dependent on the drug as they seek to boost their emotions. Stress contributes greatly towards the vulnerability of a relapse.
Biofeedback therapy is a part of a treatment program for individuals who are dependent on drugs or alcohol. It provides treatment by educating individuals on how to control their bodily reactions.
The brain is the first organ to face alteration when a person starts to use drugs and/or alcohol that’s why the doctor or therapist identifies the problems by checking brain activity. The process is painless, while at the same time effective and reliable for helping to treat drug and alcohol addiction. It is important to note that it cannot be used on its own as a treatment plan but it should be used as part of a treatment plan.