The Day Neurofeedback Became “the Biggest Thing to Ever Happen” in Addiction Recovery.

1993It had been 25 years since Bob Dickson, now Head of the Texas Commission for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation, had been dealing with the growing epidemic of substance abuse.  The year was 1993 and Commissioner Dickson was having little to no success.  “We weren’t making much progress.  When cognitive behavioral therapy came along we got excited.  It helped a little. As Commissioner, my annual budget had exploded from $20,000,000 to $180,000,000.  Nothing was working.  We kept seeing the same people again and again.  Something had to change.”

Unbeknownst to Commissioner Dickson, in a clinic some 1700 miles away, 2 researchers: Bill Scott and Eugene Peniston were about to make history.  In an effort to decrease relapse rates in recovering alcohol addicted individuals, they began a study involving 25 Navajo Veterans, all suffering with alcohol addiction and PTSD.  Their research revolved around reducing the anxiety associated with addiction recovery.  Addiction, as well as PTSD, create a situation where stress neurotransmitters and hormones are produced in large quantities.  This makes the patient hyper sensitive to stress and overreaction to the slightest incident produces the foundation for relapse.  Left unaddressed, relapse was all but a foregone conclusion.  Scott and Peniston theorized that stopping the flood of stress related neuro-chemicals could eliminate hyper sensitivity to stress and help reset the pleasure centers of the brain.  Their solution: in addition to traditional addiction treatment, they would add very specific Neurofeedback Therapy protocols.  To their amazement, the study was beyond a success and bordered on a breakthrough.  Of the 24 participants receiving treatment, 79% remained abstinent from alcohol 12-24 months following treatment and 100% experienced no symptoms associated with PTSD.  Their study was published and found its way to Commissioner Dickson’s desk.

Commissioner Dickson now recalls, “After reading the study I got on a plane and flew to California to meet these guys.  Needless to say I was impressed.  I came back and we ran three pilot studies.  All produced the same results as Scott and Peniston.  Neurofeedback had become the biggest thing to ever happen in Addiction Recovery Treatment.  When you give them Neurofeedback, they don’t come back.

This had a profound impact on Bob Dickson.  At that moment the state of Texas was offering select individuals early retirement.  Bob recounts, “I told my wife I had to pursue this (neurofeedback) and this is my opportunity.”   Bob Dickson soon retired from the state and went on to found the Southwest Health Technology Foundation where he conducted and published multiple studies concerning Neurofeedback, Addiction Recovery and Peak Academic Performance Training.  Bob is now semi retired and living in Tennessee but recalls that moment like it happened yesterday.

For the opportunity to experience Neurofeedback Addiction Recovery Treatment in Utah, visit the website below:

About the author:  Greg Warden is Executive Director of Neurofeedback Centers of Utah and Program Director of the Neurofeedback Addiction Recovery Center