24/7 Support Line - Call Now
Free Insurance Verification
Verify your treatment coverage

What is Neurofeedback Treatment for Addiction?

Neurofeedback and biofeedback are complementary therapies used in high quality, holistic addiction treatment programs to reduce stress and change your mental state. During biofeedback, your blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and other functions are displayed on a monitor. When these spike, signaling a response to stress, you use techniques like deep breathing or progressive relaxation to lower the stress response. This helps you cope with stress, which is a major factor for relapse. Neurofeedback treatment for addiction is a very specialized type of biofeedback. 

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 20 2023 | Updated Mar 11 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by

Neurofeedback treatment for addiction is an effective therapy for treating a variety of mental health problems. Here’s what you need to know about neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback Treatment for Addiction Retrains Brain Waves

During neurofeedback, your brain wave patterns are fed into a computer and assessed by specialized software, which then sends a signal to the brain to reset the waves. This re-trains abnormal brain wave patterns to change your psychological state. Unlike biofeedback, which requires the participation of the person receiving it, neurofeedback is mostly passive. The software does the work while you relax or interact with your environment to cause certain brain wave patterns to occur.

Your brain wave patterns change often, depending on your environment and activities. Gamma waves are the fastest of the brain waves. Gamma waves are associated with learning, language, forming ideas, and processing memories. Beta waves are slower than gamma waves and occur when you’re wide awake and active. Alpha waves are slower than beta waves and occur when you’re awake and relaxed, such as just before you go to sleep and right after you wake up. Theta waves are slower than alpha waves and occur when you’re extremely relaxed, such as when you’re under hypnosis or sleeping lightly. Delta waves, the slowest brain waves, occur with deep, dreamless sleep.

When your brain waves don’t function properly, it can cause a number of psychological problems. Insufficient beta activity may indicate disorders like depression and ADHD, while elevated alpha activity can cause anxiety. Neurofeedback treatment for addiction can help reduce these and other symptoms of mental illness. During neurofeedback, your brain is trained to operate within the appropriate wave pattern. This can improve attentiveness, energy levels, your ability to concentrate, and your emotional stability.

Why Does Neurofeedback for Addiction Work?

Addiction takes a toll on your mental health, and it often co-occurs with other mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSDNeurofeedback for addiction helps address symptoms of mental illness that can make recovery very difficult. Research shows that neurofeedback is effective for treating anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can also reduce sleep problems, such as insomnia.

According to one study, neurofeedback offers benefits similar to those of meditation. Improving cognitive control and increasing attention is a benefit of both meditation and neurofeedback, although neurofeedback doesn’t lead to the self-awareness and personal enlightenment commonly found with meditation.

Neurofeedback Training for Opiate Addiction

Neurofeedback treatment for addiction is particularly effective for people addicted to opiates. Research shows that the benefits of neurofeedback training for opiate addiction include reducing cravings and improving the general mental health of those addicted. It reduces anxiety, and it helps the brain effectively self-regulate and correct irregular brain function to improve symptoms of certain mental illnesses. It also helps individuals better tolerate stress and more effectively cope with high-stress–and thus high-risk–situations.

Who Offers Neurofeeedback Treatment for Addiction?

Neurofeedback can help improve your chances of successful recovery, and many high quality, holistic treatment programs offer neurofeedback and biofeedback along with a roster of traditional therapies. Better Addiction Care can help you find a high quality treatment program that offers these effective complementary therapies to help you cope with stress and cravings and improve your brain function for successful long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.


bullet Klawansky, S., Yeung, A., Berkey, C., & Shah, N. (2017)
"Meta-analysis of Neurofeedback for Treating Substance Use Disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 78, 1-11"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017
bullet Meichenbaum, D. H. (2017)
"Changing Lives: The Effects of Neurofeedback on Drug and Alcohol Addiction. In S. Coben & J. R. Evans (Eds.), Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma: Calming the Fear-Driven Brain (pp. 245-263). W.W. Norton & Company"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017
bullet Nelson, D. V., & Esty, M. L. (2002)
"Neurotherapy in the Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders: A Clinical Perspective. Journal of Neurotherapy, 6(2), 107-127"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017
bullet Peniston, E. G., & Kulkosky, P. J. (1991)
"Alpha-Theta Brainwave Training and Beta-Endorphin Levels in Alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 15(2), 271-279"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017
bullet Scott, W. C., Kaiser, D., Othmer, S., & Sideroff, S. I. (2005)
"Effects of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 31(3), 455-469"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017
bullet Sokhadze, E. M., Stewart, C. M., & Hollifield, M. (2008)
"Integrating Cognitive Neuroscience Research and Cognitive Behavioral Treatment with Neurofeedback Therapy in Drug Addiction Comorbid with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Conceptual Review. Journal of Neurotherapy, 12(4), 205-222"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017
bullet Surmeli, T., & Ertem, A. (2009)
"EEG-Neurofeedback for Optimizing Performance. II: Creativity, the Performing Arts and Ecological Validity. Journal of Neurotherapy, 13(2), 122-142"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017
bullet Trudeau, D. L. (2005)
"Applicability of Brainwave Biofeedback to Substance Use Disorder in Adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14(1), 125-136"
Retrieved on November 01, 2017

Related Articles

Can Psychedelic Therapy Help Cure Addiction? Updated: Mar 11 2024 It’s no secret that addiction is a terrible disease, and one from which far too many people suffer. Every year, people across the...
Discovering How to Be a Social Worker Updated: Apr 05 2024 Social workers can illustrate a society marked by injustice and pain by championing justice and empowering the vulnerable. If you are determined to...
How to Become a Clinical Psychologist Updated: Mar 11 2024 This branch of psychology focuses on treating mental health disorders or conditions that cause disability or difficulty functioning throughout the day and life....

Free Insurance Verification

Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

Pixel Pixel