Using Biofeedback for Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a treatable chronic medical disease that impacts and alters brain chemistry and wiring, leading to compulsive and dysfunctional behaviors.1 In the field of addiction treatment, biofeedback involves measuring bodily responses to help patients improve cravings, minimize relapse, and manage withdrawal.2,3

Read on to learn more about what biofeedback is, how biofeedback is used for addiction treatment, and how it’s employed at Desert Hope Treatment Center.

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a non-invasive therapeutic method that centers on the connection between mind and body and holds that by improving a person’s awareness of their bodily functions, emotional and physical health can be improved.2

During biofeedback, a trained therapist attaches electrical sensors to the patient’s body to measure things like:2,4

  • Heart rate.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Breathing.
  • Temperature.
  • Sweat glands.

The therapist then helps a person recognize bodily cues and teaches a person how to control bodily functions to improve overall function.2

What Conditions Does Biofeedback Treat?

Biofeedback has been shown to be clinically effective to treat many different conditions. These include:2

  • Anxiety.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
  • Constipation.
  • Headache.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Motion sickness.
  • Hypertension.
  • Raynaud’s disease.
  • Temporomandibular disorder.
  • Urinary incontinence (females).

Additionally, several other conditions have demonstrated biofeedback is likely efficacious. These include:2

  • Alcohol or substance use disorders.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Faecal incontinence.
  • Insomnia.
  • Arthritis.
  • Traumatic brain injury.
  • Urinary incontinence (males).
  • Vulvar vestibulitis.

Biofeedback is considered to be an adjunct therapy type, meaning that it is optimally used in conjunction with other methods.3

How Biofeedback Works During Addiction Treatment

During addiction treatment, biofeedback typically works as part of a more complete treatment plan.3,4 Traditional therapeutic methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacological tools, are generally included in a treatment plan for addiction.

Both CBT and biofeedback can help individuals to recognize potential triggers and help them cope with stress and anxiety. When used together, these therapeutic methods can complement each other.3

Stress can increase vulnerability to relapse, and biofeedback training can help a person to remain calm and focused, thereby learning how to manage stress and the body’s reaction to it in order to think rationally and make better decisions.3

Biofeedback may also be useful as part of an integrated treatment plan for co-occurring disorders. Mental health disorders, such as mood and anxiety disorders, often co-occur with addiction, and biofeedback may be able to improve symptoms of both addiction and mental health concerns.3

When used during addiction treatment, biofeedback may be able to help by:5

  • Diminishing drug cravings.
  • Minimizing episodes of relapse.
  • Managing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Improving emotional health.
  • Heightening cognitive abilities.
  • Enhancing overall life function.
  • Improving sleep.
  • Heightening focus and attention.
  • Controlling moods and emotions.
  • Managing stress and tension.
  • Modifying negative thoughts.
  • Decreasing self-destructive behaviors and improving self-regulation.

A trained therapist can introduce positive imagery, and new patterns can be established. Clients are trained to visualize success and envision themselves being happy and healthy in specific and general terms, depending on the session and goals.

Controlling things like breathing, for example, can help to lower heart rate and blood pressure and thus quell anxiety and produce calming results. Biofeedback training can improve self-regulation, which can enhance a person’s overall emotional and mental state. Several sessions may be helpful as it can take time to learn these new ways of thinking.4

Different Types of Biofeedback

Biofeedback therapy treatment can be helpful in a number of ways, particularly as several different machines can help provide insight into each patient’s bodily responses in their own unique way. Some of the types of machines used in biofeedback include the following:

  • Respiratory machines – Breathing is measured using sensors or electrodes that are attached to the upper body.6
  • Heart rate variability machine – A band holding a heart rate monitor is attached to the patient’s chest.7 Their heart rate is then able to be analyzed.7
  • Galvanic skin response machine – This machine, which is typically connected via Bluetooth, works by placing two sensors on the index and middle fingers.8 It helps to measure spikes in moisture on the skin that can be produced by arousal to certain stimuli.8
  • Blood pressure machine – Sensors placed near the aorta and carotid artery help determine fluctuations in blood pressure.9
  • Electromyography machine – An EMG can help determine changes in the patient’s muscle activity.10
  • Biofeedback chair – Some facilities, such as Desert Hope, have a biofeedback chair. The chair may have sensors to help determine certain bodily functions already attached to it and the chair may be equipped with speakers to play soft music during a session. Patients can typically use this as needed, including when they are feeling stressed or anxious.

Biofeedback Is Offered At Desert Hope

At Desert Hope Treatment Center—a drug and alcohol inpatient rehab in Las Vegas—biofeedback is one of the many therapies used during addiction treatment. By using biofeedback in conjunction with other therapies—such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—we aim to enhance the outcomes of therapy.

We employ evidence-based therapies at Desert Hope. This means the therapies you participate in during treatment have been shown to be effective. In addition to biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy, we also include the following types of therapies in our personalized treatment programs:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): The focus of this therapy is to develop coping skills, foster acceptance, and improve a patient’s ability to envision and pursue goals.
  • Motivational interviewing: This type of therapy enhances a patient’s motivation to sustain sobriety and helps them resolve ambivalence.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): CBT works to help people identify and shift negative thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors and establish better coping skills.
  • Psychoeducation: By learning more about substance use disorders patients are able to better understand and cope with their addiction.

Does Insurance Cover Biofeedback Therapy?

Several therapies that are offered in addiction treatment centers are either fully or partially covered by most major insurance plans. If you are insured, speak with your insurance provider to determine what your individual plan may or may not cover in regards to therapy. At Desert Hope, we offer biofeedback therapy to each patient, therefore if you find that you could benefit from it, having the answer to whether or not your insurance will cover it in full, partially, or not at all can be helpful as you make your way through treatment.

Biofeedback & Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas

You can start effective therapies like biofeedback treatment by beginning the addiction treatment admissions process at our inpatient rehab in Las Vegas. Our compassionate admissions navigators will walk you through the process, discuss rehab payment options, and answer any questions you may have, including those regarding the types of rehab we offer.

Simply call us at or complete our secure to instantly check your insurance coverage for rehab. Start your recovery with help from the caring team at Desert Hope Treatment Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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