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Substance Abuse Treatment Program

We at the Scottsdale Neurofeedback Institute here in Arizona have been using a successful and alternative non-invasive evidence-based practice treatment called QEEG Brain Map based Neurofeedback to treat individuals suffering from substance abuse for over eighteen years. Our substance abuse treatment program, although primarily based on neurofeedback, uses a multimodal approach.

So, firstly, what is QEEG Brain Map based Neurofeedback? Well, the QEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalogram), also known in popular terms as a “brain map”, is a report on the electrical activity (brainwaves) within the brain. These brainwaves provide highly detailed information about brain dysfunction. The areas of dysfunction can be resolved using neurofeedback training.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us on 480-625-4123

QEEG Brain Mapping Research for Substance Abuse Treatment

What does the research say about the brainwaves of someone who abuses substances? QEEG brain map research has repeatedly shown that the most common group average for substance abuse is elevated fast electricity in the brain. This fast electricity causes brain over-arousal resulting in some or all of the following symptoms;

  • Feeling that one’s brain is “racing”
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty experiencing peace and calm easily
  • Muscle tension
  • Agitation
  • Excessive worry
  • Short temper
  • Social anxiety
  • Self-Consciousness
  • Mood swings

People with these issues often find the alcohol or sedating drugs (marijuana, heroin, benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Ativan, or pain medications such as vicodin or oxycodone) often reduce these uncomfortable feelings and help them relax, feel peace, and sleep. These drugs are problematic as they are habit forming and over time individuals are required to take higher doses to obtain the same effect, known as tolerance. Drugs reduce the fast electricity which is known as Beta and increase slower electricity known as Delta, Theta, and Alpha, which calms down the brain.

The second pattern encountered in substance abuse is brain under-arousal instead of over-arousal: the electricity is too slow and the brain feels lethargic, tired, and drowsy. In this brain pattern, mental activity requires excessive effort and is fatiguing. This slow pattern is most likely to result in the use of stimulants such as amphetamines, cocaine, and nicotine which can activate the brain and lead to feelings of alertness and enhanced functioning. Excessive use can lead to elevated dosages and dependence. This pattern usually involves elevated slow waves such as Delta, Theta, and Alpha which these previously mentioned stimulants can reduce.

Our research on substance abuse on electrical activity in the brain has found that in addition to the group average of too much fast (beta) electricity and too much slow activity (Delta, Theta, and Alpha), five other frequently appearing patterns are observed;

  • Elevated increased beta mean frequency
  • Elevated diffuse alpha
  • Decreased alpha
  • Cingulate gyrus abnormalities
  • Elevated increased alpha mean frequency
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us on 480-625-4123

Neurofeedback Training for Substance Abuse Treatment

As mentioned before the QEEG Brain Map determines what areas of your brain deviate from that of a normal working brain. The treatment of these problematic areas involves defining exactly which brainwaves are elevated and what localisations, and then training them to the normal range with neurofeedback training.

During neurofeedback training, you are presented with real-time feedback on the electrical activity (brainwaves) within your brain. When these areas are trained towards a normal range we find that the original symptoms are greatly reduced and the need to self-medicate are no longer an issue.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us on 480-625-4123

Treatment Steps

In treatment the first thing we do is perform a QEEG topographic brain map on you. This is painless and completely non-invasive. We place a cap with 19 electrodes on the scalp, this picks up the brain electricity (EEG) and allows it to be record by a computer. The recorded EEG is then processed through 6 normative databases including the New York University Medical School Normative Database. From this statistical data it is possible for us to know which abnormalities are present and to what degree the severity.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us on 480-625-4123

A Multimodal approach to the treatment of Substance Abuse at the SNI

Treatment can include other interventions also such as;

  • Counseling
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Family/Couple Therapy
  • Behavior Modification
  • Christian Counseling and Prayer Ministry
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us on 480-625-4123
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Our Director

Robert Gurnee, MSW, DCSW, Director

Past president of the International Society of Neurofeedback & Research

Past president of the Neurofeedback Division of the Association of Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback

Our Location

Scottsdale Neurofeedback Institute
8114 E. Cactus Road - Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday 8.30am to 6pm

Phone: (480) 625-4123
Fax: (480) 424-7800