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Biofeedback Therapy

Understanding Biofeedback Therapy:

‘Biofeedback therapy is a treatment technique in which the patients are taught to control bodily processes which are normally involuntary such as breathing, heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure etc.’

It is a non-drug therapeutic process used during the treatment of addiction and a number of other disorders. Learning to control apparently uncontrollable processes may serve as a great motivation for the addicts to overcome their addiction. It empowers them by helping them gain control over their body and mind.

Currently, there are many 12-step programs helping the addicts recover from a number of addictions including:

During the therapy, electronic devices are used that provide information about the activity of certain systems of the patients to medical professionals. This information can be used to control the functioning of these systems. Some processes that can be controlled using biofeedback are brainwaves, skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception.

All these groups use 12-step programs to deal with compulsion and addiction among other behavioral problems. Annually, more than 5 million people participate in 12-step programs to recover from addictions and other psychological disorders.

12-step programs are based on spirituality and religion and are often criticized for being non-medical and non-realistic. However, even many non-religious people have found them helpful in their treatment.

How Does Biofeedback Therapy Work?

Biofeedback therapy has been known to promote relaxation and calmness which in turn helps to relieve a number of conditions including addiction.

During a therapy session, electrodes/sensors are attached to the skin of the patient that send signals to a monitor which displays heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, muscle activity or blood pressure of the patient in the form of a flash of light, an image or a sound. When the patient is under stress, these parameters change: heart rate increases, blood pressure is elevated and sweating starts. The patient can see these stress situation responses on the screen and tries to control them. The patient also sees the figures going back to normal which gives him a sense of accomplishment.

Biofeedback Therapy and Treatment of Addiction:

As the medical professionals are able to see response of the addict under stressful conditions, triggered by certain factors, they are able to develop a treatment program that suits their needs. Biofeedback therapy also helps the addicts to relax and handle their situation in a better way.

Involuntary actions are those which are not under our conscious control. Under stressful conditions, certain bodily functions are enhanced further worsening these conditions. Biofeedback therapy enables the addicts handle the situation in a better way by controlling the way their body responds to them.

After alcohol or drug withdrawal, a number of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms appear which are named as withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can often lead to heightened involuntary responses of the body which results into development of psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Biofeedback therapy can help to relieve a number of these symptoms including restlessness and muscle aches.

The monitor shows the involuntary responses to the addict. If the light is flashing fast, for example, the addict knows his heart beat is faster than normal. He then uses techniques to bring it back to normal.

Exercises used During Biofeedback Therapy:

There are a number of exercises that are helpful during biofeedback training:

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – This exercise is used to help recovering addicts release tension in overly taut muscles – a condition commonly occurring during withdrawal period.
  • Mindfulness Meditation – Meditation can help to let go off negative emotions. It also improves concentration and cultivates positivity.
  • Guided Imagery – The goal of this exercise is to guide the mind of the addict towards positive and relaxing scenarios. It may greatly help to soothe his mind and body.

EEQ Therapy:

EEQ, also known as neurofeedback therapy, is a subcategory of biofeedback therapy which focuses on improving brain health.

Prolonged use of drugs rewires the structure of brain in such a way that it is no more able to function normally. The normal brain wave pattern is disrupted and the addict is subjected to a variety of mental disorders including anxiety, depression and paranoia. These mental issues increase the risk of a relapse a great deal. To treat the addiction, treating these disorders is important.

Use of neurofeedback therapy helps to restore brainwaves to healthy levels as they were before addiction. In this way, it can be immensely helpful to successfully avoid a relapse.

EEQ Therapy:Biofeedback Therapy Sessions:

Addiction Rehab Centers offer on-site therapy sessions supervised by trained medical staff. Each therapy session lasts for about 30 minutes to one hour. The number of sessions may vary depending upon the condition of the patient. For some less serious cases, 10 therapy sessions are enough. However, severe addicts may require up to 50 sessions.

Biofeedback therapy is a great alternative for the patients who are intolerant to medications. The procedure is completely safe and free from any side effects. It is also a great option for pregnant women who cannot opt for medication assisted treatment.

Biofeedback therapy combined with neurofeedback, improves the psychological health of the patients and equips them with effective coping mechanisms. It also helps to treat mental disorders co-occurring with drug addiction such as anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. It empowers them and motivates them to be in charge of their own recovery.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer biofeedback therapy to ensure that every patient gets the attention he needs. Biofeedback therapy works well with other forms of therapy and treatment techniques.