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Why is it so difficult to treat addiction? Escaping the cycle of addiction is tough and requires far more than just willpower. Addiction has a powerful physiological component and is not purely a psychological issue. Both aspects need to be addressed in order for addiction to be resolved. 
Rehabilitation programs can successfully assist individuals suffering addiction(s). It is important to process your emotions, identify coping strategies and change lifestyle habits. The problem is that individuals suffering addiction often struggle to complete the entire program or, more commonly, relapse once the program is completed. Why is this so?

The ability to successfully self-regulate one's affect (emotional state) is the key to resolving addiction. When we experience difficult emotions, if we cannot hold space for those and allow ourselves to feel the discomfort, but instead look for something to "soothe the pain", we can easily fall into the cycle of addiction.


“It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour.”

- Gabor Mate


Treating addiction is challenging on many levels.

The process of addiction wears away your self-respect and impairs your ability to cope with the vagaries of life.


In the majority of cases the addict’s life becomes more and more insular as relationships, daily functioning and sense of self deteriorate. Pervasive feelings of guilt, shame, and anger, eat away at the mind. Other mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety often take hold, exacerbating problems and making treatment all the more difficult.

“Vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded. This fragility is part of our nature and cannot be escaped. The best the brain can do is to shut down conscious awareness of it when pain becomes so vast or unbearable that it threatens to overwhelm our capacity to function.” - Gabor Mate

Neurofeedback helps to restore an individual's capacity to function by helping the nervous system to self-regulate. Something as seemingly innocuous as a stubbed toe can trigger a dysregulated nervous system into a full-blown sympathetic response. This is known as the fight-flight-freeze response. When the nervous system is in this state, the individual will feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable, and will naturally seek a resolution to this state. This is a normal evolutionary survival mechanism.


However, if our nervous system has not learned to process this state of arousal in a natural, adaptive way, the individual will seek any way to help resolve the uncomfortable feeling, be it a substance or a behaviour. This can vary anywhere between getting angry and swearing, to having a cigarette or a shot of heroin, to shopping or binge eating. All coping mechanisms are attempts to regulate the nervous system. Using external sources such as behaviours or substances for affect-regulation leads to addiction, as a tolerance to that mechanism builds up over time so increasingly more is needed to get the same result.  


The key to resolving addiction to to train the nervous system to regulate itself, without the need for any external mechanism. This is exactly what neurofeedback is designed to do.

Neurofeedback is the process of training the brain to regulate itself. 

Addiction is a secondary problem that comes out of a primary problem.

So when we put all the emphasis on the secondary problem but don’t pay any attention to the primary one, then how can we possibly succeed?

- Gabor Mate

When combined with rehabilitation programs, neurofeedback has been shown to significantly increase the success rate of addiction recovery. At the Brain Training Centre, we work with those dedicated to change.

If you are currently enrolled in a treatment program, we can help improve the speed and ease of your recovery through a brain training protocol tailored specifically for you. 

Neurofeedback helps retrain dysfunctional brain patterns into healthy ones, thus allowing you to attain a calm mind and a sense of well-being. The process of successfully changing habits requires patience and commitment.


Neurofeedback enhances your ability to monitor emotional states and to manage responses and impulses. It assists in attaining peaceful sleep so that you can feel revitalised upon waking. Essentially, neurofeedback helps provide you with a stronger sense of self, thus improving your overall ability to cope in the world.

The Brain Training Centre encourages you to incorporate neurofeedback into your treatment program so that you can have the best possible chance of resolving your addiction. Congratulations on seeking improvement. 

We look forward to helping you succeed.


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All articles, documents and publications mentioned by or linked by this site or hosted at this site have been provided by The International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) as a public service. There is absolutely no endorsement by ISNR of any statement made in any of these documents, articles, or publications. Expect to see differences of opinion between authors. That is the essence of free and open scientific study.

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