What Is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a form of therapy that helps those with a substance use disorder (SUD) gain control over their mind and body during treatment.

During biofeedback, electronic sensors are placed on the patient’s skin. These sensors are wired to a special medical device that gives medical professionals ‘feedback’ on the patient’s ‘bio’ signs.

Biofeedback information is executed with pulsing sounds, images, or flashes of light. The way patients respond to these messages inform how they can learn relaxation exercises to control how their body responds to stressful situations like withdrawals and cravings.

Biofeedback Therapy And Addiction Treatment

Biofeedback therapy can help those in recovery understand their involuntary functions. Medical professionals then use this information to create a treatment plan tailored to their specific situation. Many of our bodily functions occur without us having to think about them. When we’re nervous, tense, or under severe emotional stress, these involuntary functions can make us more distressed. Biofeedback therapy tracks how the body is unconsciously reacting to physical and emotional tension.

Biofeedback therapy tracks involuntary functions like:

  • Breathing rate
  • Heart rate
  • Skin temperature
  • Blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Muscle contract

Alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms often lead to physical stress and heightened involuntary responses. Biofeedback can help treat common symptoms of drug withdrawal, such as anxiety, depression, chronic muscle pain, and restlessness.

Biofeedback machines record bodily functions and display them back to the patient. For instance, someone’s heart rate might look like a pulsing light or image on a computer monitor. If the light is pulsing quickly, the recovering addict knows they need to use stress-relieving techniques to lower their heart rate. The pulsing light or image on the screen will slow down accordingly as heart rate slows.

Biofeedback Therapy Exercises

Mindfulness Meditation An exercise focused on releasing negative emotions and thoughts through peaceful concentration.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation An exercise in which recovering addicts focus on releasing tension in over-tight muscles in the body, 1 muscle group at a time.
Guided Imagery An exercise directing thoughts toward soothing, positive images and scenarios to relax the mind and body.
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Neurofeedback Therapy

EEQ therapy, also known as “neurofeedback,” is a subset of biofeedback therapy that attempts to calm overexcited brain activity. Over time, continued use of drugs and alcohol can disrupt normal brain wave patterns. This irregular brain activity is linked to anxiety, depression, and other emotional issues that might trigger relapse.

Neurofeedback, a subset of biofeedback, can help restore brain waves back to healthy, pre-addiction levels.

Coupled with other addiction treatment therapies, neurofeedback can give recovering addicts the coping skills to avoid relapse. Contact a treatment provider to find a treatment center.

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Biofeedback And Other Addiction Treatments

Biofeedback therapy is usually administered by a medical professional with specialized equipment. Specialized biofeedback smartphone apps can be used at home to supplement supervised therapy sessions. On-site therapy sessions typically last 30 minutes to an hour. Someone with a mild addiction might only need 10 biofeedback sessions to see results. More severe addictions can require up to 50 sessions.

Biofeedback therapy is noninvasive. Those who experience unpleasant reactions to addiction treatment medicines might find biofeedback an effective alternative. Biofeedback therapy is also helpful for addicted women recovering while pregnant since it is a medication-free treatment.

Biofeedback and neurofeedback therapy can give recovering addicts a psychological edge in beating addiction.

Understanding how the mind and body are physically affected by addiction — and how to modify those effects — can help recovering addicts feel in control of their recovery. Biofeedback therapy can be effective in treating mental health disorders that co-occur with alcohol and drug abuse. Some of these include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Find The Help You Need To Overcome Addiction

Inpatient and outpatient drug rehab programs offering biofeedback therapy can help those recovering from addiction better understand their treatment needs. Biofeedback therapy integrates well with other treatment options like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment also pairs well with other alternative recovery techniques like art and music therapy.

Many treatment centers offer a comprehensive addiction treatment plan that includes biofeedback therapies. To learn more, speak with a treatment provider today.

Published:

Author

Jeffrey Juergens

Photo of Jeffrey Juergens
  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

Photo of David Hampton
  • David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with area treatment centers, recovery orientated nonprofit organizations, as well as being a keynote speaker for various recovery-focused events.

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Sources

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THE BALANCE Luxury Rehab

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Seaside Palm Beach

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Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches

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Recovery by the Sea

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Harmony Treatment & Wellness

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Banyan Treatment Centers – Stuart

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Banyan Treatment Centers – Massachusetts

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Blue Hills Recovery Center

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Valiant Recovery

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