How Biofeedback Helps You Attain Sobriety

Find out more about biofeedback, what it is, and how it helps recognize various body functions and health conditions.

What Is Biofeedback and How Does It Work?

Biofeedback is a therapy that helps people learn how to control bodily functions. This non-invasive technique combines body and mind, involves auditory or visual feedback, and uses electrical sensors to convey information. The feedback allows people to change and improve their mental and physical health. Studies have shown that biofeedback can be effective and yield positive results for various problems, such as urinary incontinence, headaches, and fibromyalgia.1
During a biofeedback session, electrodes are attached to the skin to measure particular body functions. Heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, temperature, sweating, and muscle activity can be recorded on a monitor to display results. Thus, medical professionals and clients can see how the body responds, giving first-hand opportunities to learn how to control them. With enough practice, people can sense changes in their bodies and make adjustments without the equipment.


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What Does Biofeedback Help With?

By learning to control psychological and physical functions, people can relax their body and mind and better cope with various health conditions like stress. Biofeedback can help people learn to control:
  • Muscle tension
  • Blood flow
  • Pain perception
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure

Neurofeedback vs. Biofeedback

Biofeedback uses sensors to monitor physiological functions like muscle contractions, breathing, sweat, etc. The tests provide immediate feedback on how people’s bodies function, allowing them to make the necessary changes. These changes can improve health, anxiety, hypertension, chronic pain, stress, or physical performance.
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that measures brainwave activity. It is sometimes referred to as EEG biofeedback. Doctors give real-time feedback on how clients’ brains function in neurofeedback.
Through reward-based training, people learn how to self-regulate their brains, leading to long-term changes in their brain waves.2

Biofeedback Uses

Biofeedback treatment can be employed to treat many conditions, including:
  • Chronic pain
  • Pain
  • Headaches
  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Physical stress reactions
  • Low and high blood pressure
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Epilepsy
  • Brain injuries
  • Digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Constipation

How Biofeedback Helps You Attain Sobriety

Substance use disorder can cause significant abnormalities in brain activity. Drug abuse and dependence often change levels of chemicals like dopamine in the brain, making quitting hard and recovery even harder. Biofeedback can help people gain and increase control of their minds and body during recovery in the following ways.

Reduce Cravings

Firstly, biofeedback helps reduce drug cravings. When people begin detoxing or quit taking drugs or alcohol, they develop withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to severe. A study has shown that biofeedback successfully reduces withdrawal symptoms like cravings, depression, and pain and improves somatic symptoms and overall mental health. 3

Reduce Relapse

Secondly, biofeedback reduces drug relapse by retaining brain patterns during withdrawal. Biofeedback also creates new neurological connections and improves cognitive abilities. A study found that 77% of participants who received biofeedback therapy remained abstinent after one year compared to 44% of participants who did not receive biofeedback.4

Improve Behavioral Problems

Lastly, this technique helps improve behavioral problems and manages stress that could have led to drug relapse.

Types of Biofeedback

There are many forms of biofeedback tailored to meet specific health conditions. They will be detailed below.

Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)

Neurofeedback therapy uses electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain wave activities. Doctors connect scalp sensors to EEG devices to help treat addiction, pain, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other disorders.

Thermal Biofeedback (Temperature Biofeedback)

A thermal biofeedback session involves clients wearing a sensor that detects blood flow to the skin. When people are stressed, they experience a drop in temperature—thus, a low reading on the monitors indicates that the client should employ stress management techniques.


Electromyography monitors electrical activities in muscle contractions. A doctor connects sensors to an EMG device and places them on various points on the body. Clients can learn how to control muscle tensions from the results.

Respiratory Biofeedback

Respiratory biofeedback monitors breathing patterns and rates. During a respiratory biofeedback session, clients wear sensor bands around their abdomen and hands. This technique helps people control their breathing rates and reduce conditions like anxiety.

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback

Heart rate variability biofeedback helps treat various disorders, including depression and asthma. During sessions, clients wear sensors on the wrists, chest, or torso (occasionally on the fingers or ears).

Galvanic Skin Response

Galvanic skin response is also referred to as skin conductance. The galvanic skin response measures the amount of sweat on the skin to detect emotional arousal. Since emotional stimulation triggers sweating, skin conductance can aid in controlling physical responses that occur when intensely aroused.

Blood Pressure Biofeedback

Blood pressure biofeedback monitors blood pressure. Clients wear a device that measures their blood pressure during the biofeedback session. These devices often guide people through relaxation techniques that use breathing exercises, visual cues, or music.

Biofeedback Devices

Various biofeedback devices and techniques can be used and implemented, depending on the person and condition.

Biofeedback Devices

The following include common biofeedback devices that can be used at home or during a therapy session:

Interactive Computer Programs or Mobile Devices

People can plug sensors into their computer or mobile device to measure physiological changes, such as skin changes or heart rate activity. Attach one or more sensors to the ear or finger. These devices use various computer prompts and graphics to help relax the muscles, pace breathing, or employ positive thoughts to cope with stress.


Another device requires wearing a headband to monitor brain activity during meditation. The device uses different sounds to alert people if they are calm or not. There is an option to further store information from each session on a mobile device or computer to track progress.

Wearable Devices

Some wearable devices monitor breathing and track breathing patterns using a downloadable app. People can wear these devices on their waist, wrists, fingers, etc.

Biofeedback Techniques

Biofeedback is often used as a type of training. Biofeedback usually lasts between thirty and sixty minutes, with around four to six sessions (sometimes eight to ten). However, the duration of treatment and number of sessions depends on treatment goals, response to sessions, and the condition.
In a biofeedback session:5
  • Electrical sensors are connected to different parts of the body depending on the condition measured.
  • Electrical sensors are connected to the measurement device that reports the physical responses.
  • The therapist will guide the client through mental exercises like meditation, relaxation, breathing, or visualization techniques.
  • While the client performs these exercises, the measurement device reports on their physical changes.

Exercises That May Be Used in Biofeedback Therapy

Some of the exercises used in biofeedback therapy include:

Deep Breathing

Breathing through the diaphragm helps lower heart rate.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation involves alternating between relaxing and tightening different muscles and muscle groups.

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery promotes feelings of relaxation. A therapist guides the client as they focus on images in their mind, exploring textures or colors present in their imagery.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation replaces slow racing and negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Insurance and Cost of Biofeedback Therapy

While getting treatment, it is crucial to know how much the treatment costs and if insurance can cover part of the whole amount.

How Much Does Biofeedback Cost?

An average biofeedback therapy lasting thirty to ninety minutes costs $35 to $85 per session. These costs depend on the biofeedback therapist’s experience, training, and other qualifications. Neurofeedback is costly, charging around $2,200 for thirty sessions lasting forty minutes each.
Biofeedback machines that can be used at home for self-use vary greatly in price, ranging from $20 to $2,000+. The price difference depends on the quality, model, and features.

Does Insurance Cover Biofeedback Therapy?

In most instances, Medicare insurance may cover the costs of biofeedback therapy. However, Medicare Part B only covers biofeedback when done under an outpatient program, and the client’s doctor deems this therapy as necessary. In addition, Medicare does not cover biofeedback therapy for treating psychosomatic conditions or muscle tension states.

Get Biofeedback Treatment at Concise Recovery

At Concise Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment options, including biofeedback. Our highly qualified medical professionals carefully develop a treatment plan for each client to ensure their needs and conditions are properly met.

While sessions are essential, the success of biofeedback therapy also depends on how often the methods learned during therapy are utilized outside the treatment program. Contact Concise Recovery today for more information on biofeedback, treatment options, and how to get started.