Biofeedback is a scientific way of learning how to reduce tension. Biofeedback practitioners use instruments to give a person immediate feedback about the level of tension in their body. People practicing biofeedback often say they gain psychological confidence when they learn they can control their physical reactions. Biofeedback has been found effective in several aspects of addiction treatment.

BCIA Board Certified practitioners can be located at the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA) website ( or The Assoc1ation for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) website (


Scott WC, Kaiser D, Othmer S, et al. “Effects of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population.” Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2005; 31(3): 455-469.

In this UCLA study 120 patients in an inpatient substance abuse program were randomly assigned to the EEG biofeedback or a control group. Patients who received biofeedback remained in treatment significantly longer and 77% were abstinent at 12 months compared to 44% of patients who didn’t receive biofeedback one year following treatment.

Stewart SH, Kushner MG. “Introduction to the special issue on “Anxiety Sensitivity and Addictive Behaviors.” Addictive Behaviors. 26(6): 775-785, 2001.

Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is characterized by a fear of arousal-related bodily sensations that are interpreted as signs of impending catastrophe on physical, psychological, or social levels. AS has been linked to increased risk for the development of panic attacks, anxiety disorders and more recently to substance use disorders. AS is thought to increase drug withdrawal severity and to lower tolerance for withdrawal symptoms.

Biofeedback is a technique that is used to treat the type of anxiety sensitivity described above.

Updated May 23, 2018