The answer: "It depends on the person's brain." However, almost for certain at some point in a complete series of neurofeedback sessions a person who is recovering from addiction will benefit from receiving the alpha-theta protocol. The evidenced-based symptom-oriented evaluation will suggest alpha-theta training as a starting protocol for the majority of people with addictions. However, there will be some individuals who will receive alpha-theta after first receiving training with other protocols. It all depends on the results of their individualized assessment.

There is a 2008 study that compared the clinical EEG signals of an alcoholic group to a control group. The results suggested that when the alcoholics were exposed to the stimulus, brain cells were activated and emitted higher voltage than that of the control group. We know that a less active brain produces an increase in alpha brain wave, which is the idle rhythm of the cortex. It means that when the brain is excessively aroused or perceives danger the thinking and reasoning part of the brain gets bypassed. In other words, people react first and ask questions later. For an addicted person this too often has severe consequences.

An addicted brain has its object of addiction ranked nearly as important as air, water and food. Getting sober threatens their long-term relationship with something the brain mistakes for survival. The more effective the intervention, the more resistance one could expect. Most people find change stressful, but with the addictive population this mechanism is significantly magnified, which sabotages their ability to apply treatment learned solutions in their lives. EEG biofeedback, and in particular alpha-theta, appears to work by significantly reducing this acute survival response. It works by training the cortex to remain engaged and not be bypassed as usual during a fight-or-flight reaction. The result is improved compliance in treatment, less recidivism, and continued 12-step or faith-based participation after leaving treatment.

What is alpha-theta protocol?

Alpha-theta protocol is named after the two main types of brainwaves that are involved during this protocol. It brings on a deep witness state where people can often observe having dream-like experiences where they calmly observe things that would ordinarily cause them stress. Issues such as distorted beliefs and trauma affect how the brain operates at a sub-conscious level. With alpha-theta, clients train their brain to let go of response patterns that are based on old or false beliefs so they can enjoy life with a new and healthier perspective. In addition, the brain opens up to complementary psychological therapies. People who experience alpha-theta training report that they are more connected emotionally, have increased peace and serenity, are more open-minded and better able to access and integrate repressed experiences. They also seem much more observant of opportunities and have significantly less fear in perusing them.

Alpha-theta is the only neurofeedback protocol proven effective for the addicted population in a large randomized controlled trial. The study was conducted by UCLA and published in "The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse" in 2005.

Author's Bio: 

Bill Scott is a Board Certified Neurotherapist and Instructor, who has been featured as an EEG Biofeedback Expert on Discovery Science, lectured at the American Psychiatric Association five times, and presented research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science as Principal Investigator of a UCLA study. For more information, go to neurofeedback and neurofeedback for addiction recovery.