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Research Feature

Addiction & Substance Abuse

Many people think addiction is due to a lack of self-discipline, but addiction is physiological, not psychological. People with addiction are often called “weak” by their family and friends, but addiction is a disease, and it is very hard to change. Addicts struggle with emotions such as guilt and shame, anger and frustration. Addiction is a brain disease, a mental health disorder that severely debilitates a person in all aspects of his or her life. In addition, people with addiction frequently suffer from other mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Neurofeedback targets the brain disorder of addiction. Through neurofeedback, a person’s brain is retrained. Teaching the brain how to be calm, focused, and relaxed helps a person think more clearly. Neurofeedback training provides a solid base on which to build recovery and prevent relapses. It helps teach the tools one needs to cope long term.



Neurofeedback Training for Opiate Addiction: Improvement of Mental Health and Craving [pdf]

Fateme Dehghani-Arani, Reza Rostami, and Hosein Nadali

Published online: 20 April 2013.

This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com ABSTRACT Psychological improvements in patients with substance use disorders have been reported after neurofeedback treatment. However, neurofeedback has not been commonly accepted as a treatment for substance dependence. This study was carried out to examine the effectiveness of this therapeutic method for opiate dependence disorder. The specific aim was to investigate whether treatment leads to any changes in mental health and substance craving. In this experimental study with a pre-post test design, 20 opiate dependent patients undergoing Methadone or Buprenorphine maintenance treatment were examined and matched and randomized into two groups. While both experimental and control groups received their usual maintenance treatment, the experimental group received 30 sessions of neurofeedback treatment in addition. The neurofeedback treatment consisted of sensory motor rhythm training on Cz, followed by an alpha-theta protocol on Pz. Data from the general health questionnaire and a heroin craving questionnaire were collected before and after treatment. Multivariate analysis of covariance showed that the experimental group achieved improvement in somatic symptoms, depression, and total score in general mental health; and in anticipation of positive outcome, desire to use opioid, and relief from withdrawal of craving in comparison with the control group. The study supports the effectiveness of neurofeedback training as a therapeutic method in opiate dependence disorder, in supplement to pharmacotherapy.