Pros and Cons of Neurofeedback Training for Addiction
Throughout the world there are literally millions of people who struggle with addiction of one kind or another. While some problems are mild, others are so severe they compromise quality of life and even put life at risk. Of course, the appropriate method of overcoming an addiction depends on the type, level of severity, and the individual but in the majority of cases standard treatment consists of prescription medication, mental health therapy, and/or medical procedures.
While conventional treatment is an important part of addiction recovery for many people, experts also recognize the value of an alternative treatment known as neurofeedback training. This particular treatment has been used for many years but as more research is done and studies performed, it has become evident that neurofeedback training offers exceptional value for people with addiction.
Of course, if someone is interested in beating an addiction with an alternative treatment such as neurofeedback training, it is advised to learn as much as possible so both positive and negative aspects are understood. With this, an individual will have a more view of recovery.
Common Types of Addiction
Before going over the pros and cons of neurofeedback training, we wanted to offer brief insight into the types of addictions this form of treatment benefits.
- Alcohol Addiction – A true addiction to alcohol is devastating. Because brain chemistry changes, an individual needs to drink in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.
- Drug Addiction – Sadly, there are hundreds of drugs that people become addicted to that fall within both illicit and prescription categories. The greatest challenge with drugs is that addiction is both physical and psychological.
- Food Addiction – Although people can have a genuine addiction to all types of foods, overwhelming cravings are typically for sugary, fatty, or starchy food items. The problem is that most people with a food addiction battle with a weight problem and sometimes, to the point of being at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, and more.
- Miscellaneous Addictions – In addition to the most common three types of addictions that neurofeedback training is used for, there are others such as a gambling addiction or sex addiction,
Pros of Neurofeedback Training
Regardless of the type of addiction a person has, or even the level of severity for that matter, neurofeedback training has been proven beneficial. In all cases, there is a specific area of the brain that no longer functions normally. Sometimes, the brain operates too quickly or too slowly, sometimes it becomes “stuck”, and other times, communication signals are disrupted or stopped altogether.
For someone with a problem of addiction, a highly trained expert can use what is known as a QEEG brain map to identify the area being compromised. Based on that information, it becomes possible to retrain the brain using a continuous flow of information through neurofeedback training. Keep in mind that some people see almost immediate improvement while for others, multiple training sessions are required but in all cases, success is attainable.
Something else to consider is that neurofeedback training is used to break an addiction but also prevent addictive behaviors from resurfacing. For many medical professionals, one of the goals in using neurofeedback training is to wean an individual off prescription medication. The nice thing about this treatment is that once a person stops taking medication, if addictive tendencies resurface, additional training can be provided, again as a preventative tool.
Cons of Neurofeedback Training
For the most part, there are very few downsides to this particular treatment when used for addictions. However, one thing that some people might think of as being negative is that for certain types of addictions and those of great severity it can take a year or more to see noted improvement. However, as the brain is continually retrained, things will begin to change.
The only other thing we wanted to mention is that if an individual had experienced any brain damage associated with a drug or alcohol addiction, full recovery with neurofeedback training is unlikely. In a situation such as this, a person will probably need to take medication and/or go through therapy for life but in saying that, neurofeedback training is still considered a valuable tool that supports an addiction recovery process.