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How Biofeedback Help You Attain Sobriety

Biofeedback helps individuals control their reactions and manage pain, anxiety, and depression. Learn more here.

Biofeedback Overview

Biofeedback therapy for addiction recovery helps people with substance use disorders (SUDs) understand their involuntary functions better.

For example, feeling stressed can cause a rise in blood pressure or cause the heart rate to accelerate. These involuntary functions compound feelings of distress, which can lead to reckless decisions and poor choices.

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How Can Biofeedback Benefit People?

Learning how to understand and react to involuntary reactions through biofeedback training helps people who have SUDs respond to cravings and other withdrawal symptoms from a more stable, empowered position.

What Is Biofeedback Therapy?

Biofeedback treatment is a mind-body therapy that uses sensors to teach people how to make subtle changes in their involuntary body functions.

In this painless procedure, a biofeedback therapist places sensors on the body to measure specific functions. The person receiving treatment can view the test results on a screen and then try different ways to change the results. With practice, individuals learn how to make changes without biofeedback equipment.

Is Biofeedback the Same as Neurofeedback?

Biofeedback therapy is sometimes confused with neurofeedback. The two techniques are similar, but neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback therapy that focuses solely on brain wave functions.

Neurofeedback Process

During a neurofeedback session, electrodes are placed on individuals’ heads to monitor brain activity. The individual learns how to increase alpha, beta, and theta brain waves according to their needs.

One use of neurofeedback is as an intervention for ADHD. With biofeedback for ADHD, individuals learn how to increase their beta waves to assist with active thinking. 1

Many studies support the use of biofeedback for specific purposes. It has been shown to effectively manage both acute and chronic pain syndromes and treat insomnia symptoms, and it may also be beneficial for people with heart disease.[2] Biofeedback for anxiety and depression has also been proven effective. 3

Biofeedback Process

Biofeedback programs have also been found effective for individuals in addiction recovery, especially when used in conjunction with medications. One study confirms that biofeedback provided positive results for individuals seeking treatment for opioid use disorder. 4

Biofeedback helps people attain sobriety by teaching them to control the involuntary responses associated with cravings, triggers, and other withdrawal symptoms.

How Does Biofeedback Treatment Work?

During a biofeedback treatment session, the biofeedback therapist will attach electrical sensors (electrodes) to certain points on your body. The sensors may monitor muscle tension, heart rate, brain waves, breathing, or skin temperature. Both the individual and the therapist can view the monitor that shows the information the sensors are collecting.

By observing this information, the individual can practice deliberate techniques that change what their body is doing. For example, when receiving biofeedback for migraines, the individual learns how to relax specific muscles that contribute to their headaches.

Biofeedback Techniques

The techniques used to control involuntary movements include:

  • Deep breathing, which can lower stress and anxiety
  • Progressive muscle relaxation, which can relieve muscle spasms, lower stress, and help with insomnia
  • Guided imagery for stress relief and improved connection between mind and body
  • Mindfulness meditation to relieve stress and let go of negative thoughts

Biofeedback Therapy

At first, the practitioner guides the individual through these techniques. Eventually, the individual learns to control their physical reactions on their own.

Biofeedback therapy is considered generally safe for most people. No significant health risks have been reported. Individuals with certain skin conditions or heart rhythm problems may not be good candidates for this therapy. You should discuss any plans to undergo biofeedback with your physician.

Different Types of Biofeedback

There are different types of biofeedback, and each type may require specialized equipment. Some types of biofeedback are more effective for certain conditions. For example, your therapist may suggest the neurofeedback form of biofeedback for depression or electromyogram biofeedback for pain.

Thermal Biofeedback

Thermal biofeedback therapy for anxiety relies on body temperature readings to provide feedback. Individuals practice techniques to gain control over their skin and body temperatures.

Electromyogram Biofeedback

Electromyogram (EMG) biofeedback is also known as muscle contraction biofeedback. In EMG biofeedback, electrodes measure muscle activation, and individuals learn how to increase or decrease muscle activity to relieve muscle tension and spasms that cause pain.

Electroencephalography Biofeedback

Electroencephalography (EEG) biofeedback focuses on brain wave activity. Sensors placed on the head monitor brain waves. EEG biofeedback provides information on alpha, beta, and theta brain waves to help individuals control brain activity.

Electrodermal Activity Biofeedback

Electrodermal activity (EDA) biofeedback is also known as galvanic skin response training. This technique controls sweat gland activity to help individuals gain control over the electrical activity in their skin.

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback

Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback relies on specialized sensors to monitor the heart rate. HRV biofeedback provides information needed for individuals to control their heart rate. For example, a person in recovery can relieve feelings of anxiety naturally by slowing their heart rate, helping them minimize cravings and other anxious feelings.

Uses and Benefits of Biofeedback

Benefits of Biofeedback

Biofeedback training is used to help people with many physical and mental health conditions, including substance use disorders. Common uses of biofeedback include treating:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Breathing problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Insomnia
  • Pain
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • High blood pressure
  • Substance use disorders

Biofeedback for Pain or Anxiety

Biofeedback for pain or anxiety can help people reduce the amount of medication they need to manage their health issues. It empowers individuals to gain control over some aspects of their body and involuntary responses. With more control, individuals can improve overall well-being and feel more confident about their ability to maintain recovery.

Getting Started with Biofeedback Therapy

If you’re interested in trying biofeedback, speak with your healthcare provider or recovery specialist for more information.

Biofeedback Costs
Biofeedback therapy is not a quick fix. It may take 20 sessions or more to improve your mind-body connection. Sessions can cost between $35 and $85 each or more. Costs depend on the type of biofeedback being used and the training and qualifications of your therapist.

Your health insurance may pay for biofeedback therapy, but it depends on your specific carrier and plan. To learn more about biofeedback treatment and other effective therapies for addiction treatment, contact Genesis Recovery.


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Call Us 24/7
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