Getting Help For Addiction
One Client’s Story
Jill was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14. When she came into our office she had been on drugs for 10 years. Her list of then-current drugs included:
- Topamax—for migraines
- Dexedrine—for ADD symptoms
- Cytomel—for thyroid
- Abilify —as an add-on treatment for depression, mania and schizophrenia
- Zoloft—for anxiety and depression
- Risperdol—for schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder
- Lexapro—for depression and generalized anxiety disorder
When she first arrived, her manner was very quiet and spacey. It seemed as if she did everything in slow motion. We completed an initial assessment and found her inattention to be very high and her brain speed very low. She was extremely depressed answering “yes” to all Depression Scale questions including, “Do you think your situation is hopeless?”
When we looked at the oxygen levels in her forebrain, both sides had very low baselines. However, her right side was not able to utilize the oxygen as well as the left. On the right she was also unable to increase her oxygen intake over a period of four minutes.
Her medical evaluation revealed that she had deficiencies in vitamin D-3 and B-12, excessive body inflammation and a very low thyroid level.
We started with a customized neurotherapy program to assist her in relieving her depression and to help stabilize her brain so that she could eliminate the drugs. We asked that she not come off the drugs immediately, but be weaned off slowly from her physician. However, she decided to not take our advise and came off all meds cold turkey.
After three sessions her mother reported that “…her behavior has become bizarre—occasional friendly moments, but mostly shouting and throwing things. Perseverating about things—nothing in the house has any privacy, she is tearing through the closets, leaves stuff on the floor that she is knocking off the shelves. She is extremely up-tight, can’t figure out what to wear, clothes are just everywhere.” Her mother saw her getting worse and displaying great anger. However, the likely cause of these symptoms was the anxiety and physical withdrawal from medication.
As we continued therapy, Jill would go through periods of cold sweats and shaking, headaches and body aches. She commented as she was going through it that dexadrine felt just like withdrawals from cocaine. She craved it more intensely than any of the other medications. Nevertheless, she persevered. After the next five sessions she started to feel better.
By the end of 20 neurotherapy sessions, she was completely off all of her medications and no longer felt depressed. Her final note to us was “From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Not only for this, but for helping me regain my life and live again. I think about the state of being I was in when I first came to see you and where I am now and will continue to improve and I am very grateful for all your help. I had no hope and you helped me regain that.”
One interesting aspect of Jill’s case was that she had apparently stopped growing emotionally at age 14 when she started taking the prescribed drugs. Her mother now noticed all of the behaviors of a teen-aged girl. Over the period of three or four months following the neurotherapy she started to “catch up” with those of her age group. By the time she was done she was a happy, mature 24-year-old woman.
With relapse rates sky-high in the majority of addiction programs, people struggling with addiction can find themselves in and out of treatment and rehabilitation programs for years. Often, people with addiction even leave a treatment program before completion.
BrainAdvantage can help bring increased success to the treatment of addiction. Combining neurotherapies can help reduce the addiction treatments can help a person finally escape the cycle of addiction.
Addiction and the Brain
It has been found that people with addictive personalities have a lack of specific brainwave activity in the alpha frequencies. In other words, they have trouble relaxing and may feel constantly anxious and tense when not feeding their addiction. (Collins, 2009) This pattern can also be seen in children of alcoholics (even those who do not drink). This produces an abundance of “mental chatter.” For this reason, addicts have a hard time quieting their minds. Many times these individuals use alcohol and drugs to self-sooth to slow down their brainwaves artificially. This could explain why those with addition issues also typically suffer from anxiety.
The opposite pattern can also be seen in people with addictions. Too many slow beta brainwaves can make it difficult to focus and pay attention. People with attentional problems such as AD/HD have this pattern. (Collins, 2009) Adults with AD/HD often learn to self-medicate with legal substances such as coffee and cigarettes. Children and others use stimulant drugs to speed up their brainwaves and help them focus.
Other physical, social and psychological effects must also be addressed. An important aspect of addiction is cravings. Our brains are hardwired to pursue natural rewards such as food and sex because of their critical part in survival. The cravings for drugs and alcohol activate the same circuits in the brain and can be even greater than for food and sex. (Childress, 2010)
Although addiction is a chronic disease, it is treatable. Neurotherapy allows the addict to control his own brain without drugs and alcohol. In this way, addictions can be overcome without a lifetime of struggle and craving. Neurotherapy can help break undesirable established mental or behavioral patterns. It can help break the cycles by providing reinforcement for ‘normal’ function. (Huang et al, 2008; Lingford-Hughes, 2003)
Clinical studies show that neurotherapy can:
- Reduce stress and excessive tension
- Increase relaxation and cognitive awareness
- Improve the ability to recover
- Reduce the frequency of migraines, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and depression related to withdrawal
- Help recover long- and short-term memory
- Increase IQ performance
- Increase the ability to focus and concentrate
- Decrease fatigue and stress
- Improve self-confidence & self worth
- Improve decision making and problem solving
One function of neurotherapy is to stimulate and release neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, nor-epinephrine, and endorphins. Endorphins have a morphine-like pain-relieving effect that lowers pain intensity. (Collins, 2009) Endorphins reduce depression and aid emotional stability, allowing a calmer, more restful approach to life. People who use neurotherapy may find they no longer have the cravings for drugs or alcohol to stay calm. Even those who have been dependent on drugs for years can become drug-free.
Most research over the past 25 years has shown that CES reduces anxiety and improves cognition in recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Pete Townsend, formerly of the band “The Who”, found CES was the most effective treatment for his drug addiction recovery.
|Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation for Addiction
by FDA Advisory Committee
|Neurofeedback for Addictions: The State of the Science
|QEEG Analysis of Crainal Electrotherapy: A pilot Study
from Journal of Neurotherapy