Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback Therapy can be a safe and effective treatment for substance use disorders, and other issues involving stress. It involves monitoring your body's reaction to certain situations and creating treatment plans based on the data collected.
Evidence Based
check icon

Biofeedback Therapy (BT) Overview

Biofeedback Therapy (BT) is a non-pharmaceutical technique that helps people control their normally involuntary body functions. For example, it can help someone slow their heart rate or relax their muscles.

BT uses electrical sensors that read and interpret information from the body. A person can adjust aspects of themselves based on this information and ultimately control their body. BT helps with the management of many different conditions, including:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • High blood pressure
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • IBS
  • Chemotherapy side effects
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Tension and migraine headaches
  • Chronic pain 

It is also effective for treating addiction and substance use disorders, especially during withdrawal. BT treats common symptoms of drug withdrawal, including anxiety, depression, chronic muscle pain, and restlessness.

Doctors aren’t sure exactly how Biofeedback Therapy works, but according to The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), it is most effective for treating conditions related to stress. When stress levels rise, a person’s internal processes become irregular. BT helps control this and provides a tool for alleviating symptoms. It helps people change unhealthy habits by interpreting brain activity and helping people familiarize themselves with their body’s responses.

There are three types of Biofeedback Therapy, including:

  • Thermal biofeedback, which is a skin temperature measurement
  • Electromyography, which is muscle tension measurement
  • Neurofeedback, which evaluates electrical brain activity

Are there any risks of Biofeedback Therapy?

Most medical experts believe that any risk associated with Biofeedback Therapy is low. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is generally safe and there are no reports of negative side effects. However, this doesn’t mean the treatment is for everyone. 

The effectiveness of treatment like Biotherapy Feedback is determined by how comfortable someone is using it.

Group of people icon

What Conditions Does Biofeedback Therapy Treat?

Biofeedback Therapy is used to help with substance use disorders. It allows a person struggling with addiction and their therapist to recognize the body's involuntary functions that trigger substance use. BT tracks how the body reacts, tracking alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms that cause stress and heightened involuntary responses.

Most people undergoing biofeedback therapy sessions see improvement in fewer than a dozen sessions. These sessions last about an hour.

Biofeedback Therapy is an effective tool for treating addiction because it enhances other therapies and allows people to feel more in control of their health and their overall situation.

Graphic human body showing symptoms.

How Does Biofeedback Therapy Work?

Biofeedback Therapy tracks the body’s involuntary functions. These include:

  • Respiration rate
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Skin temperature
  • Muscle contractions
  • Sweating

BT machines monitor and provide information about these functions. This allows the monitored person, as well as his or her therapist, to interpret the information about how the body responds provided by the machines. This information helps with planning an approach to withdrawal and recovery.

During Biofeedback Therapy, information about the person is recorded and transmitted to a monitoring box during exposure to different visual and audio stimuli. This allows a therapist and/or the observed person to identify mental activities and relaxation techniques to regulate bodily functions that normally go unnoticed and uncontrolled. During the sessions, the person practices control and eventually learns to control his or her reactions without monitoring.

Icon of clipboard

Methods, Techniques & Exercises of BT

There are several different factors that can be tracked by biofeedback. These include:

  • Measuring brain waves
  • Monitoring respiration rate and breathing patterns
  • Detecting heart rate variations
  • Evaluating muscle contractions
  • Measuring the activity of sweat glands
  • Monitoring temperature increases and decreases

Biofeedback Therapy is available in physical therapy clinics, medical centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other locations. Devices can also be worn and used at home. However, BT is usually administered by a medical professional with specialized equipment. The at-home devices are supplemental and alert the wearer to changes in their body so they can adjust to these changes accordingly. Medical professionals typically monitor Biofeedback Therapy devices used for treating substance use disorders. 

Four hands holding each other

Treatment Combinations

Biofeedback Therapy is most often used in combination with other drug and alcohol treatment options. It is also a replacement for more invasive treatment or treatment options that triggered negative side effects.

BT gives people with substance abuse disorders an edge in beating their addiction. It provides them with additional information for managing their disorder and understanding how their addiction affects their minds and bodies. Knowing how addiction affects the body and finding ways to manage those effects helps with recovery. Biofeedback is a management tool. It also helps people with a drug or alcohol addiction manage co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD, ADHD, and more.

Resources

“Biofeedback Therapy: How It Works and Uses.” Www.Medicalnewstoday.Com, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265802.

“Biofeedback: Types, Purpose, and Risks.” Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/biofeedback.

“Biofeedback - Mayo Clinic.” Mayoclinic.Org, 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/about/pac-20384664.

Sokhadze, Tato M., et al. “EEG Biofeedback as a Treatment for Substance Use Disorders: Review, Rating of Efficacy, and Recommendations for Further Research.” Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, vol. 33, no. 1, 24 Jan. 2008, pp. 1–28, 10.1007/s10484-007-9047-5.

calendar icon
Updated on: June 24, 2020
Author
Addiction Group Staff
About
calendar icon
Medically Reviewed: April 21, 2020
AnnaMarie Picture
Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
About
addiction group logo
WE'RE HERE TO HELP

Find Treatment Today

Are you struggling with substance abuse? You aren’t alone. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about addiction and treatment:
What is the difference between physical dependence and addiction?How effective is addiction treatment?How long is addiction rehab?
Depending on your unique situation, there are many addiction treatment options available. Compare the most effective types of treatment options here:
Inpatient RehabPartial Hospitalization ProgramsOutpatient Rehab
addiction group logo white text green logo
All unique content created by the Addiction Group team is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert before publication. However, the information provided by Addiction Group is not a substitute for professional treatment advice. Read more in out About Us.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

© 2020 by TREATMENT PATHWAY, LLC. All right reserved.