Friday, April 22, 2011

Neurofeedback and Addictions

The bottom line of how I see neurofeedback help with addictions is that it makes it easier to do what's good for you and harder to do what isn't - and in a way that is often experienced as seamless and naturally right for the individual.

The United States government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said in 2004:
The category of disorders associated with substance abuse is the most common psychiatric set of conditions, affecting an estimated 22 million people in this country (SAMHSA, 2004).
I doubt that number has decreased any in the last eight years.

The type of neurofeedback I use with my clients is NeurOptimal®, which I think is state of the art. Here are some of the ways I've seen neurofeedback help with addictions:
  • Reducing anxiety and depression, two conditions that often lead to self-medicating with alcohol and other substances.
  • Making it easier to read your own body. People say things like, "I can tell when I'm full now," and "I knew I didn't really want another drink so I didn't have it."
  • Reducing the need for potentially addictive prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines (commonly prescribed examples are Valium, Klonopin, Xanax and Ativan).
  • Generally feeling better about yourself. Much addictive behavior is based in shame.
  • Reducing the symptoms of PTSD that are often factors in substance abuse.
  • Stress reduction - meaning reducing stress reactions - makes it easier to not turn to the substance.
  • With neurofeedback training, people often quite naturally make life changes that support sobriety, including getting enough exercise and better nutrition.
If this resonates, you can find links to five lists of neurofeedback providers on my website.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback


  1. Hi Catherine! I am currently exploring the existing blogs about neurofeedback (I'd like to start one, so of course I want to see what's already out there so I can link to it on my own!). I just wanted to compliment you as this is probably the best one I have seen so far! You're posts are regular and interesting, and I love the book recommendations. I'll be visiting again soon!

  2. Thanks for your comment! When you get your blog up, I'd love to visit it.