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How Biofeedback Can Boost Your Recovery

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Dealing with and recovering from addiction is one of the most difficult challenges you can face. It requires a great deal of perseverance and dedication, as well as a robust support network. However, to truly succeed in recovering from addiction, you'll also need to have the right techniques available to you and have access to individuals who can help you execute those techniques.


What Is Biofeedback Treatment?

Biofeedback therapy is based on the premise that you are able to exercise at least some control over the physiological processes and responses in the body. More specifically, biofeedback attempts to give the patient control over physiological responses that are not typically thought of as controllable. Examples include blood pressure, pulse, and even brain waves and patterns.


Biofeedback treatment begins by acquiring the necessary data about the patient's physiological processes. This means the patient is hooked up to one or more machines that measure the blood pressure, heart rate, brain patterns, etc. of the patient. The theory is that by being made aware of this data, the patient -- along with a trained therapist -- can have a positive impact on the patient's overall health.


How Biofeedback Treatment Works

There are a variety of ways that a biofeedback therapist can gather the data about your (or any patient's) physiological markers. This is in addition to more typical blood pressure and heart rate monitors. For example, there are machines that can register the temperature of your skin, and tie that information into your overall stress levels. The amount that you sweat is another useful data point, since sweating is often associated with anxiety and other unhealthy emotions. Finally, therapists can attach an EEG to the patient. By analyzing brain waves, both the therapist and the patient can determine when the patient is awake or sleepy, relaxed or anxious, calm or panicked. All of these indicators are put together to comprehensively assess the physiological condition of the patient.

The treatment truly begins when the therapist works with you (or any patient) to control the data points being collected. Together, you can determine what is the cause of negative biofeedback, then try to change stimuli or mental state or try a number of other methods to improve the negative biofeedback.


Combining Biofeedback With Other Treatment Strategies

In order to truly make biofeedback therapy effective, it is absolutely critical that it is combined with other treatment strategies. Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, has become increasingly popular as a method of reducing anxiety and improving overall mental health in recent years. The therapist can work together with you to analyze how your biofeedback metrics change as you progress through a mindfulness meditation session. The lessons learned can also be taken with you after the therapy session, leading to dramatically greater results.


There are a number of other treatments that can be used in combination with mindfulness meditation as well. One of the most popular, and effective, is yoga.


Benefits of Biofeedback Therapy for Addiction

One area where biofeedback therapy is particularly promising is in treating addictions, including addictions that have proven resistant to other therapies. Biofeedback therapy has proven to be effective with a number of addictions, including:


• Alcohol addiction
• Cocaine, heroin and meth addictions
• Sex additions
• Gambling addictions
• Numerous other addictions

Biofeedback therapy is proving to be particularly effective because addictions cause significant changes to the brain. By bringing attention to the mental and physiological patterns in a patient, biofeedback therapy gives the therapist and patient a starting point to work from.

Since addicts tend to have dramatic physiological changes when the urge or craving hits, biofeedback therapy gives the patient and the therapist the opportunity to identify exactly what happens -- both in the mind and body -- of the addict when those urges become powerful. This also provides an opportunity to test out different treatments (e.g. meditation, yoga, other rehab techniques) to see which ones are best able to reduce or eliminate the physiological changes during a craving. Finding the most effective treatment is useful even after the biofeedback therapy, since the patient can incorporate the most effective methods into their own life.

Addictions also tend to make life difficult in general for the addict. Biofeedback therapy can help the patient regain cognitive function, improve their health and rejoin society.

Biofeedback therapy is great for recovering addicts who are already in (or are considering) other treatment plans. Since biofeedback therapy tends to build on the successes of other therapies, biofeedback therapy can dramatically increase the likelihood of a traditional rehab program taking hold and working in the long term.


The Bottom Line

Biofeedback is a very exciting area for therapy, particularly addiction therapy. Biofeedback therapy is also proving to be very promising for a number of other important conditions, including:


• High blood pressure
• Insomnia
• ADHD and autism
• Cancer recovery
• Chronic back pain
• Many other stress-related conditions


If you'd like to learn more about biofeedback therapy and find out if it is the right therapy for you, please contact Fusion Recovery at 408-484-4740. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, know that Fusion Recovery can help, even where others have failed you.


Written by: Michael O’Brien, SAP, CATC, CSC

 

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