Biofeedback Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment

Addiction recovery consists largely of various therapies to help a person modify their thought processes and behaviors surrounding substance use.1 One type of addiction therapy that is proven effective for individuals with substance use disorders is biofeedback.2

This page will explore biofeedback in more depth, explain how it works, and discuss how it can be a beneficial addition to one’s overall substance use disorder treatment plan.

What is Biofeedback Therapy?

Biofeedback therapy is a technique in which people are made aware of how their specific thoughts, behaviors, and emotions directly relate to their physiological responses.3 The insights obtained can be used to help improve upon mental and/or physical health conditions by establishing control over involuntary body processes that may otherwise negatively contribute to one’s condition.3

Body signals such as heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, etc. are typically viewed as being controlled unconsciously. However, becoming aware of the way they work in real time can help an individual bring them under control.3

Biofeedback uses specific medical equipment to record these and other body signals and convert them in real time to visual or audio cues that can be displayed on a monitor for the patient to review with their provider.3

How Does Biofeedback Therapy Work?

To begin a biofeedback session, a therapist will place sensors on the patient’s skin to monitor different signals.2 These sensors should never cause pain or shock the patient; they are only to record body signals and transmit them to the screen.3 The therapist will select different displays for each body signal on the screen and explain them in detail to the patient.3 For example, “the red line on the screen is muscle tension, and the blue line is heart rate”.3 Going through the signals, the therapist may ask the patient to do certain actions, such as ‘wiggle your eyebrows’ or ‘wave your arms’ to show them how the signals change with each action.3

Alongside physical stimuli, patients will see how mental stimuli (such as stress) also affect their bodily signals.3 After intentionally resting, patients may engage in a stressful mental activity, such as counting down from 100 by 7s.3 Then, after again relaxing, the therapist can pause the feedback and show the patient how their body signals changed while under stress and recommend an ideal value.3

Does Biofeedback Help with Addiction Treatment?

Biofeedback therapy has decades of history in addiction treatment.2 In some of its first studies with addiction treatment, biofeedback was associated with increased self-awareness and openness to suggestion, which can be helpful for recovery. Subsequent studies found additional benefits, including:

  • An increase in substance abstinence.
  • Improved mood.
  • An increase in overall functionality.2

Through biofeedback, a person in recovery from a substance use disorder may learn to control their physiological reactions, which can improve their physical and emotional well-being.2 A large part of addiction recovery is learning new techniques to address substance use triggers and develop control over one’s actions.2 Biofeedback can strengthen these parts of the brain and increase the efficacy of other treatment approaches, helping to improve overall abstinence.3

Types of Biofeedback

There are different types of biofeedback therapy, depending on the types of body signals being monitored. Various biofeedback therapies may monitor the following:*

  • Breathing may be monitored by a small tube at the entrance of the nasal canals or through sensors placed on the chest. They may stick to the chest or be secured with bands.4
  • Heart rate can be monitored through the placement of sensors on the chest around the heart, like a typical electrocardiogram, or through a variety of sensors that may be worn or held.5
  • Muscle tension is measured through sensors placed on the muscles of interest for therapy. If neck and shoulder tightness are contributing to illness, then those muscle groups will be monitored.3
  • Body temperature is typically monitored through sensors placed on the fingertips.3
  • Sweat has many detectable biomarkers, which can help measure the body’s sweat production. Using electrochemical sensors are popular because of their high sensitivity, quick response time, and ability to be worn simply. They can be stuck to the skin simply on the wrist or many other locations.6

The exact form of monitoring for each of these biofeedback therapies could vary from location to location. Receiving biofeedback can help a person be more comfortable and allow for more conscious control of their body processes.3

Is Biofeedback Covered by Insurance?

Most insurance companies provide some coverage for substance use disorder treatment.  Some rehab centers will offer biofeedback as part of their treatment offerings. For example, Greenhouse’s residential amenities include a biosound chair that incorporates biofeedback in its residential addiction treatment program. You can instantly or call to discuss your options for rehab and biofeedback and whether your health plan will provide coverage.

Addiction Treatment in Texas

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, hope is here. Treatment is available today at Greenhouse Treatment Center, an inpatient rehab near Dallas, Texas. Compassionate and qualified staff members are available 24/7 to help you start the admissions process and begin your recovery journey.

Call to speak with one of our admissions navigators. They can answer additional questions you may have about different ways to treat addiction, insurance coverage, and other ways to pay for rehab. Healing is possible.


Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Greenhouse is located in Grand Prairie, Texas, which is easily accessible from Dallas and Fort Worth.
Take your next step toward recovery:
✔ learn more about our addiction treatment programs.
✔ see how popular insurance providers such as Aetna or Humana offer coverage for rehab.
view photos of our facility.