How Does Biofeedback Help You Attain Sobriety?

Biofeedback therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses sensors to help people with a variety of disorders. Biofeedback has been used to help people attain sobriety and maintain it. 

Biofeedback

Table of Contents

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a process that helps people make small changes inside of their body’s functions through the use of electrical sensors and techniques. The goal of this treatment is to help a person slow their heart rate, relax muscles, reduce pain, or achieve any specific goal. Biofeedback therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can help improve a person’s functioning.

Non-invasive

One of the most significant appeals to this treatment is that it is a non-invasive treatment. Biofeedback is “a process that allows people to alter their physiological activity in order to improve health or performance.”2 The process is not invasive, and it at maximum includes a few electrical sensors to help the person locate what is going on within their body. 

Improve Function

By locating the specific issues going on within the body and mind, a person can use biofeedback to focus on improving those areas. It can lead to lower pain, lower stress, less anxiety, and several different other benefits. Overall, it is a beneficial tool to help someone improve their physiological functioning. 

Neuroimaging Technology

One of the main goals of this treatment is learning self-regulation of the brain. To coincide with bioimaging is the use of neuroimaging technology. The use of neuroimaging technology allows doctors to track activity in the brain during biofeedback treatment. Doctors will be able to better see what is happening psychologically while physiological symptoms are presenting themselves.

Structural

During structural neuroimaging studies, doctors are looking at the actual structure of the brain and trying to measure things such as gray matter and abnormalities.

Functional

Inside functional studies, they are looking more at the functions of the brain and the pathways that light up with activity. During this time, they might look at what part of the brain is active when certain pains or thoughts come into mind.

Types of Biofeedback

There are several different types of biofeedback methods. A therapist or doctor might use different kinds depending on what they are trying to target. There might be variations to the type of treatment depending on which path they decide to take.

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is when the doctors use scalp sensors to look at your brain waves using an EEG. It will be used to monitor brain activity for things such as seizures and mental health disorders.

Electromyography

Electromyography (EMG) looks at the muscle tension inside of a patient and how it changes over time.5 The doctor will place sensors around your muscle and use an EMG to track the activity during your muscle contractions.

Thermal

Another type of biofeedback you might receive is thermal, which is when a doctor attaches sensors to your fingers and feet to track the blood flow throughout your body. The goal of this is to see how stressed you might be since your temperature will drop if you are stressed. It will track your body temperatures over time to see how specific techniques are working.5

There are other types including heart rate biofeedback, breathing biofeedback, and sweat gland activity. 

Benefits of Biofeedback

There are several different benefits to using this treatment method. As mentioned previously, biofeedback is a noninvasive treatment. At most, doctors will use EEG or EMG machines and censors to track activity in your body. No surgery is necessary. Moreover, it could reduce a person’s need for medication or enhance the impact of some medications. Finally, biofeedback therapy can help a person have more control regarding their health. It is used to treat several different things. Here are a few. 

Seizures

One study showed that there was a significant seizure reduction between patients who did biofeedback therapy and those who did not.6 During this time, there were also no adverse effects that happened to the patients, ultimately helping them significantly. 

Addiction Recovery

One study showed that people who struggled with substance use disorders had significant abnormalities in their brain activity. After doing multiple treatments of biofeedback, the study “reportedly resulted in long-term abstinence and changes in personality testing.”7 It worked very well with people who struggled with alcohol use disorder. 

Sleep Disorders

There have been some studies that have shown possible benefits to using biofeedback to treat sleep disorders like insomnia over some other treatments like cognitive behavior therapy. However, many of the studies have had mixed results, so the verdict is still out on this process when it comes to sleep disorders. It looks like there are some benefits, but it should be used alongside other forms of treatment, too.

Anxiety and Depression

According to a recent study, there is a statistically significant improvement for patients with anxiety and depression with their symptoms when using biofeedback compared to not getting treatment at all. They are still early in their research, but it looks like biofeedback, especially neurofeedback, could be a beneficial treatment for anxiety and depression.

PTSD

The same can be said about PTSD. The same study showed that patients who struggled with PTSD had improvement with their symptoms after going through this type of treatment.9 The study had a small sample size, but it is a sign of hope and possibilities for the future of biofeedback usage within mental health treatment. 

Disruptive Behavior Disorders/Bipolar Disorder

One of the benefits of biofeedback is learning to have control over your emotions. It can help people that have disruptive behavior disorders or bipolar disorder regulate their emotions, helping them to have more stability. It can also lead to a decrease in anxiety and depression.10 

ADHD/ADD

There have been mixed studies on the benefits of biofeedback for people that have ADHD. For some people that struggle with ADHD, biofeedback has been beneficial. However, there are cases where it has been ineffective. The positive thing is that this treatment is harmless and non-invasive, so there is no significant risk in trying it.11 

OCD

There have not been many studies that have looked into the effects of biofeedback on obsessive compulsive disorder. There have been five studies so far, and they have shown positive results, but it is worth mentioning that the treatment groups had varying benefits and were smaller. One positive factor about it is that it can focus on specific obsessions or compulsions to better help with triggers.12 

Autism

A few studies have shown that biofeedback can help kids that have autism. Some benefits they have seen include improvement in social skills, eye contact, and communicating their desires and needs. A few children have even seen improved performance in academics. Most of the time, doctors will use the neurofeedback method to help children with autism.13 

Peak Performance

Biofeedback is not just for treating disorders and mental health. It can also help athletes reach their peak levels of performance. Studies have shown that using it to monitor changes within the muscles and body can help out an athlete. This research shows the athlete exactly what changes they need to make and what areas they need to focus on.14 

Migraines

Research has shown the using biofeedback with muscle relaxation can lower the number of headaches a person has and their ability to function through them. Biofeedback therapy focuses on teaching people how to relax their muscles and mind, which can help when there is a specific area in pain, including migraines.15 

Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury

Did you know that your brain has 72,000 chances to adapt during twenty neurofeedback sessions? Biofeedback is critical in helping people with TBI and concussions because it can retrain parts of the brain after traumatic injuries. Studies have proven it can effectively reduce symptoms in people with concussions, making it a viable physical therapy option.16 

Others

Overall, biofeedback therapy is used to treat many different disorders and things such as TMJ, strokes, tinnitus, Raynaud’s disease, IBS, fibromyalgia, fecal incontinence, constipation, chronic pain, asthma, high blood pressure, and even chemotherapy side effects. Talking to your doctor about biofeedback could be a positive step in helping you on your health journey. 

How does Biofeedback Help in Attaining Sobriety?

Biofeedback therapy can help people take control over their minds and bodies during the recovery process. It can be a difficult part of recovery, so having a therapy plan that helps with these things helps. Here are a few ways that it helps people attain sobriety. 

Reduces Cravings

For one, biofeedback therapy helps reduce cravings. When people are going through recovery, withdrawal can be one of the most difficult things to overcome. It helps with things such as anxiety, stress, depression, pains, and any restlessness that may occur. 

Minimizes Relapse

Addiction is commonly linked to irregular brain activity. When the chemical is removed, it can lead to relapse very easily due to the different withdrawal symptoms. Biofeedback helps to retrain these brain patterns, eventually leading to new neurological connections that will lower relapse. 

Improves Cognitive Abilities

For the same reasons, this treatment method can help improve someone’s cognitive abilities. By creating new neurological connections, a person can start to develop things such as better memory, quicker reactions, etc. 

Improves Behavioral Problems

Biofeedback therapy can help people with certain behaviors in their life as well by helping the person retrain their behavior patterns. Because it looks specifically at the brain and tracks how the body’s muscle activity, the therapy can train a person to change specific behaviors. 

Manages Stress

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of biofeedback therapy is the way that it helps people manage stress. By identifying things that might are putting strain on the body and mind, the doctor can help guide their patient to learn stress relief activities, and they can get real-time feedback.

Process of Biofeedback

When you go into biofeedback therapy, you can expect the therapist to attach sensors to different areas of your body depending on what kind of process they are doing. These sensors will monitor the activity throughout your body. The feedback given helps to train your body to relax, change your thoughts, behavior, or your feelings. Each session lasts around half an hour to an hour. 

How to Prepare for Biofeedback?

There is no special preparation that you need to do. It is best to ask for someone who has experience with this kind of therapy. Asking questions about their license, training, and experience is important.

How Many Sessions Would You Need?

The number of sessions varies depending on the person. A rough number for some is around twenty sessions with a therapist. You should ask the practitioner when talking to them about their experience.

Biofeedback therapy is an impactful treatment for several things, including recovery. Using biofeedback to help change behaviors and learn stress relief can be a great way for someone to reach sobriety. Ask your therapist if they believe biofeedback might be a good treatment option for you. 

Resources

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/about/pac-20384664 
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-biofeedback-2794875 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957350/ 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6168211/#:~:text=Structural%20neuroimaging%20modalities%20(particularly%20MRI,related%20to%20use%20dependency%20plasticity. 
  5. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00414/full 
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5828368/ 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2259255/ 
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31123938/ 
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531603/ 
  10. https://www.advancedneurotherapy.com/blog/2015/07/30/bipolar-disorder-depression 
  11. https://www.understood.org/articles/en/biofeedback-what-it-is-and-how-it-works 
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30590278/ 
  13. https://nwbiofeedback.org/can-biofeedback-help-children-autism/#:~:text=Biofeedback%20has%20been%20shown%20to,neurotherapy%2C%20has%20been%20especially%20effective. 
  14. https://www.bfe.org/protocol/pro12eng.htm#:~:text=In%20our%20multidisciplinary%20training%20program,continuously%20occur%20within%20an%20individual.&text=self%2Dtalk%20of%20the%20athlete.&text=To%20monitor%20physiological%20relaxation. 
  15. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/biofeedback-and-relaxation-training/ 
  16. https://neurogrow.com/biofeedback-as-an-option-for-the-treatment-of-concussion-symptoms/#:~:text=In%20just%2020%20neurofeedback%20sessions,with%20mild%20traumatic%20brain%20injury. 

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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