Alcohol and drugs are psychoactive substances. They act in the brain, and their effects represent changes in neurological functioning. Most people use alcohol and other drugs as a way to “self-medicate” pre-existing neurological abnormalities. It is possible to learn to control one's brain states from within, without drugs and alcohol. In this way, addictions can be overcome without a lifetime of struggle and craving. This process of control is called Neurofeedback.
We use multiple different techniques when working with addiction including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and counseling, but Neurofeedback has become our “Ace in the hole” for helping addicts get and stay clean.
We use research based protocols for training including Alpha/Theta protocols and various “fast-wave” protocols.
It has been found that many alcoholics, and some other addicts, are deficient in alpha and theta waves. These types of brainwaves are associated, respectively, with a relaxed, alert state.
Research shows that this pattern of hyper-arousal is present before a person becomes alcoholic, although alcoholism itself eventually makes it worse, reducing alpha and theta even more. This is a condition of anxiety, inability to relax; a chronic state of excess tension. Drinking alcohol temporarily increases the amount of alpha and theta waves. This is associated with alcohol-produced euphoria. After a few hours, of course, the good feeling wears off as the basic pattern of low alpha/theta and increased fast beta comes back.
Research has shown that success in alcohol treatment is less for those alcoholics who have the least alpha and theta activity, and the most beta.
Neurofeedback for alcoholism, and some other addictions, is a process of teaching the client first to increase the amount of alpha waves, and then to increase theta. The person progresses into a relaxed, dreamy and hypnogogic state, eyes are closed, and they receive feedback via sounds. This is called Alpha/Theta training.
While in the hypnogogic theta state, the client is asked to do visualizations picturing refusal to drink (or to do drugs) and abstinence from alcohol and other substances.
In the many clients who also suffer from post-traumatic conditions, the hypnogogic state facilitates the re-experiencing of traumatic memories in a setting that allows them finally to be processed and remembered in normal ways and places in the brain. Spiritual experiences often accompany the reprocessing of old memories.
All of this is accomplished in a safe and comfortable place with a licensed therapist and addiction counselor.