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Additional Neurobiological Treatment Tools

Mindfulness & Neurobiological 

Tools for Healing - A Training Resource

By Jim Messina, Ph.D., CCMHC, NCC, DCMHS-T


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 that they can control their physical reactions. Biofeedback has been found effective in several aspects of addiction treatment (Sokhadze, Cannon & Trudeau, 2008). Heart rate variability biofeedback (HRV BFB) is a clinical intervention that is gaining growing empirical support for the treatment of a number of psychological disorders, several of which are highly comorbid with substance use disorders (SUDs). The autonomic nervous system is the bases of two key processes implicated in the formation and maintenance of addictive pathology—affect dysregulation and craving—and it appears that HRV BFB may be an effective intervention to ameliorate autonomic nervous system dysregulation in these processes, and as such, prove to be an effective intervention for SUDs (Eddie et al, 2015 and Eddie et al 2014).


Eddie, D., Vaschillo, E., Vaschillo, B. & Lehrer, P. (2015). Heart rate variability biofeedback: Theoretical basis, delivery, and its potential for the treatment of substance use disorders. Addiction Research & Theory, 23(4): 266–272. DOI:10.3109/16066359.2015.1011625

Eddie, D., Kim, C., Lehrer, P., Deneke, E. & Bates, M.E. (2014). A pilot study of brief heart rate variability biofeedback to reduce craving in young adult men receiving inpatient treatment for substance use disorders. Applied Psychophysiological Biofeedback, 39, 181–192. DOI 10.1007/s10484-014-9251-z

Sokhadze, T.M., Cannon, R.L. & Trudeau, D.L. (2008). EEG biofeedback as a treatment for substance use disorders: Review, rating of efficacy, and recommendations for further research. Applied Psychophysiological Biofeedback, 33, 1–28 DOI 10.1007/s10484-007-9047-5


What Is Biofeedback? Center for Brain Training's, Mike Cohen, Discusses Types of Biofeedback at:

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery involves the use of the imagination to achieve specific healing and life goals. It can be effective in helping people cope with stress and regain a sense of control and well-being. As with all other mind/body techniques, interest, motivation and practice are keys to the successful use of guided imagery for health and healing. Guided imagery is considered a nonpharmacologic modality as well as complementary and alternative medicine, and involves imagining scenes, pictures, or experiences to help the body heal from pain (Burhenn et al., 2014). It was found that incorporating guide imagery and other holistic therapies helped patients reduce opiate use. While some patients found other physicians to give them the opiates they desired, those who persisted in an environment of respect and acceptance significantly reduced opiate consumption compared with patients in conventional care. While resistant to complementary and alternative medicine therapies initially, the majority of patients came to accept and to appreciate their usefulness (Mehl-Madrona, Mainguy & Plummer, 2016). Stress Management techniques utilizing guide imagery were found to reduce pain for those suffering from chronic neck pain (Metikaridis et al., 2017).


Burhenn, P., Jill Olausson, J. Villegas, G. & Kravits, K. (2014). Guided imagery for pain control. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 18(5), 501-503. DOI:10.1188/14.CJON.501-503

Mehl-Madrona, L., Mainguy, B. & Plummer, J.(2016) Integration of complementary and alternative medicine therapies into primary-care pain management for opiate reduction in a rural setting. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 22(8), 621-626. DOI:10.1089/acm.2015.0212

Metikaridis, D., Hadjipavlou, A., Artemiadis, A., Chrousos, G., & Darviri, C. (2017). Effect of a stress management program on subjects with neck pain: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Back & Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 30(1), 23-33. DOI:10.3233/BMR-160709


Guided Meditation For Anxiety & Stress, Beginning Meditation, Guided Imagery Visualization at:

Calming our minds: Relaxing music & Affirmations for a Peaceful life & Relaxation at:

Releasing Negative Thoughts Spoken Affirmations for a peaceful, calm positive mind at:


Hypnosis is a calm natural state of focused attention which can be produced by one's self or with the help of a therapist. From that state, the mind is especially receptive to ideas and suggestions compatible with the person's goals. Some people have found hypnosis to be a useful part of a total recovery program. It has been used in dealing with patients who are wanting to stop drinking with some success (Jayasinghe, 2005). Hypnosis allows the patients reinvestment their senses, as well as a modification of their relationship with the outside world. This helps them to change and start a process of opening up and letting go of their addicting behaviors (Kammoun et al., 2009).


Jayasinghe, H.B. (2005). Hypnosis in the management of alcohol dependence. European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 6(3). 12-16.

Kammoun, M.F., Anastasiu, A., Dumoulin, T. & Garrigou, J.L.(2009). P03-54 Hypnosis and addictions: A two cases report. European Psychiatry. Supplement 1, 24, S1053-S1053.


Hypnotherapy Treatment for Anxiety (Mental Health Guru) at:

Hypnosis for Pain Control and Pain Relief at:

The Truth Behind Hypnotherapy at:

Spiritual and Emotional Healing Hypnosis, Connect to the Universe, Receive Higher Self Meditation at:

Massage and Bodywork

Massage and bodywork address the mind/body/spirit, offering the possibility of healing and change on many levels. On a physical level, it can facilitate the release of tension and holding and improve energy balance and flow. It also offers the opportunity to explore deeper levels of relaxation and peace, greater self-acceptance and awareness, and a deeper connection to self and others. Management of non-specific neck pain disorders often include massage therapy as well as exercise therapy intervention or promotion which have been found to be effective non-pharmaceutical treatments (Skillgate et al., 2015). Patients with severe pain were found after massage therapy, to report highly significant improvement in their levels of distress, pain, tension, discomfort, and mood compared with their premassage ratings (Suresh et al, 2008).


Skillgate, E., Bill, A.S., Cote, P., Viklund, P., Peterson, A. & Holm, L.W. (2015). The effect of massage therapy and/or exercise therapy on subacute or long-lasting neck pain - the Stockholm neck trial (STONE): Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 16, 414. DOI 10.1186/s13063-015-0926-4

Suresh, S., Wang, S., Porfyris, S., Kamansinski-Sol, R. & Steinhorn, D.M. (2008). Massage therapy in outpatient pediatric chronic pain patients: do they facilitate significant reductions in levels of distress, pain, tension, discomfort, and mood alterations? Pediatric Anathesia, 18.884-887. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9592.2008.02638.x



What's The Difference Between A Massage & Bodywork at:


Meditation has roots in many spiritual traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Meditation emerged in each case as a spiritual practice to discipline the mind and deepen spiritual awareness. There is an ongoing call for the incorporation of spirituality into the world of substance abuse treatment and the use of meditation seems to be responsive to this call (Horton & Naelys, 2016). Today meditation is also practiced for stress management, personal growth, general wellness, and its therapeutic effects for medical and emotional difficulties. The most recent boost to meditation comes from the mindfulness meditation movement, derived from Vipassana in Buddhism but presented in Western form by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others (Moss, 2011). An abundance of empirical research studies has now emerged documenting specific benefits from mindfulness meditation and meditation in general.  There are many different types of meditation which all work to slow down the chatter of the mind and promote relaxation and mental clarity. Benefits of these age-old techniques of healthy living have been shown to persuasively to promote resilience and better mental health (Hazri & Sakar, 2014).


Transcendental Meditation - The long-term positive effects of Transcendental Meditation seems to be correlated with a reduced relapse rate. Transcendental Meditation may not only reduce tension and anxiety, but also enhance a sense of control in anxiety-provoking situations that strengthens the long-term resistance to stress. Transcendental Meditation (TM) program has been recommended for improving soldier resilience, and as a viable adjunctive treatment option for PTSD and Anxiety (Barnes, Monto, Williams & Rigg, 2016).



Barnes, V.A., Monto, A., Williams, J.J., & Rigg J.L. (2016). Impact of transcendental meditation on psychotropic medication use among active duty military service members with anxiety and PTSD. Military Medicine,181(1), 56-63. doi:10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00333


Hazari, N. & Sakar, S. (2014) A Review of yoga and meditation neuroimaging studies in healthy subjects. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 20(1), 16-26.

DOI: 10.1089/act.2014.20109


Horton, E.G. & Naelys, L. (2016) Spirituality in the treatment of substance use disorders: Proposing the Three-legged Stool as a model for intervention. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work, 35(3), 179-199. DOI:10.1080/15426432.2015.1067585


Moss, D. (2011). Special issue: Yoga, meditation, and applied psychophysiology Biofeedback, 39, (2), 43–44. DOI: 10.5298/1081-5937-39.2.11



The Science And Spirituality Of Meditation – Documentary at:


Meditation Music for Positive Energy - Relax Mind Body | Spiritual Awakening Music at:


Meditation Music for Positive Energy l Clearing Subconscious Negativity l Relax Mind Body at:


Neurofeedback (also called Brain wave biofeedback) is a therapy in which patients learn to change their brain wave patterns. Changing brainwaves can have a beneficial effect on relaxation and reduce stress and its unhealthy impact on the brain and nervous system. In one type of neurofeedback the training involves normalization of alpha and theta brain waves which are disturbed by long term substance abuse. Neurofeedback has shown dramatic success in several studies in preventing relapses from drug and alcohol addiction. Neurofeedback is considered an excellent therapeutic tool for treating substance abuse conditions and for treating eating disorders. Although it has been used primarily in treating attention deficit disorders, neurofeedback is seen as beneficial in the treatment of many conditions affecting thought processes (ADAW, 2010). The Flexyx Neurotherapy System (FNS), a novel variant of EEG biofeedback, was adapted for intervention with seven treatment-refractory Afghanistan/Iraq war veterans, and brought about significant decreases in bothersome neurobehavioral and posttraumatic stress symptoms. FNS may help ameliorate mixed trauma spectrum syndromes Nelso & Esty, 2012).


ADAW (2010). Neurofeedback: Fact or fiction. Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. 22, DOI: 10.1002/adaw

Nelson, D.V. & Esty, M.L. (2012). Neurotherapy of traumatic brain injury/posttraumatic stress symptoms in OEF/OIF veterans. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 24(2), 237–240.


What Is Neurofeedback? How Brain Training Can Benefit Kids, Families, and Adults at:


In dealing with the chemical imbalances that are both a cause of substance abuse and a result of long-term substance addiction, nutritional therapy can be helpful in several ways. It has been found that there is a strong relationship between sugar addiction and alcoholism. Eliminating certain substances such as sugars and simple starches and increasing protein intake can help to rebalance brain chemistry.  Good nutrition can also help heal damage to the body caused by the depletion of nutrients common in substance abuse. Use of nutritional Supplements, Vitamins and Herbs helps  restore the proper biochemical balance in the brain.Research has found that nutrition education is an essential component of substance abuse treatment programs and can enhance substance abuse treatment outcomes. For this reason, nutrition education, should be incorporated into substance abuse treatment programs (Grant, Haughton & Sachan, 2004). Supporting this point of view is that indications are that drug abuse may increase the risk of the metabolic syndrome because Drug-abusing patients have higher rates of diabetes complications and Substance abuse is a significant contributing factor for treatment noncompliance in diabetes and finally Nutrition education can enhance substance abuse treatment outcomes (Virman et al., 2007)



Grant, L.P., Haughton, B. & Sachan, D.S. (2004). Nutrition education is positively associated with substance abuse treatment program outcomes. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104(4), 604-610. DOI:10.1016/j.jada.2004.01.008


Virmani, A. Binienda, Z.K., Ali, S.F. & Gaeani, F. (2007) Metabolic syndrome in drug abuse. New York Academy of Sciences, 1122, 50–68. doi: 10.1196/annals.1403.004



24 Anti Inflammatory Foods with Crazy Powerful Healings Benefits at:


How to Avoid Inflammatory | 7 Foods You Should Avoid That Cause Inflammation at:

Tai chi and Qigong

There are many ways to achieve a meditative state of mind. For those who have trouble sitting quietly for periods of time, various movement practices and martial arts, such as tai chi, qigong, and karate, can focus and calm the mind and enhance feelings of self-confidence and self-worth.


Tai chi has been found in a recent study to be a promising exercise that improves quality of life for individuals with stimulant dependence (Dong et al., 2016).


Qigong - is a traditional Chinese health practice for mind and body wellness. It integrates slow movement, a relaxed posture, a focus on breathing, and a clear and calm state of mental awareness. It is considered a form of exercise called “moving meditation". Qigong meditation appears to contribute positively to addiction treatment outcomes, with results at least as good as those of an established stress management program. Results for those who meditate adequately are especially encouraging. Meditative therapy may be more effective or acceptable for female drug abusers than for males. (Chen, Comerford, Shinnick, & Ziedonis, 2010). A recent study showed that internal Qigong generated benefits on treating some chronic pain with significant differences (Bai et al, 2015).



Bai, Z., Guan, Z., Fan, Y. Liu, C., Yang, K., Ma, B. & Wu, B. (2015).The effects of Qigong for adults with chronic Pain: Systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 43(8), 1525–1539. DOI:10.1142/S0192415X15500871


Chen, K.W., Comerford, A., Shinnick, P. & Ziedonis, D.M. (2010). Introducing Qigong meditation into residential addiction treatment: A pilot study where gender makes a difference. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,16(8), 875–882. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2009.0443


Dong, Z., Ding, X., Guobin, D., Fei, W., Xin, X., & Daoxin, Z. (2016). Beneficial effects of Tai Chi for amphetamine-type stimulant dependence: a pilot study. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, 42(4), 469-478. DOI:10.3109/00952990.2016.1153646



Daily Tai Chi - join in this 8-minute exercise at:


Tai Chi Secret: Increase mental clarity + relaxation at:


"Deep Meditation Music": Music for Qigong, Tai Chi, Massage, Meditation Music, Motivational ♫231 at:


Yoga emerged within the history of Hinduism in India and evolved as it spread across Asia and later into North America and Europe. Originally a comprehensive system for spiritual and personal awareness and discipline, integral to the Indian culture and to its spiritual heritage, today yoga is practiced for physical fitness, weight management,and general wellness and increasingly for its well documented therapeutic effects for medical and emotional problems (Moss, 2011). Yoga is a technique that uses physical postures and controlled breathing to lengthen and strengthen the spine, increase flexibility, calm the mind, improve concentration, and promote patience. Yoga can also contribute to a greater sense of control in more acute states when experiencing cravings, insomnia, agitation, etc. Regular practice is needed to fully experience these benefits. Benefits of these age-old techniques of healthy living have been shown to persuasively to promote resilience and better mental health (Hazri & Sakar, 2014). The utility of Yoga/Meditation as a simple, safe, and inexpensive format to improve the quality of life in a population that has many medical difficulties and extenuating stressors has been demonstrated (Agarwai, Kumar & Lewis, 2015). A recent study found that long-term practice of Sahaja Yoga Meditation is associated with larger grey matter volume overall, and with regional enlargement in several right hemispheric cortical and subcortical brain regions that are associated with sustained attention, self-control, compassion and interoceptive perception. The increased grey matter volume in these attention and self-control mediating regions suggests use-dependent enlargement with regular practice of this meditation (Hernandez et al, 2016).


Agarwal, R.P. Kumar, A. & Lewis, J.E. (2015). A pilot feasibility and acceptability study of yoga/meditation on the quality of life and markers of stress in persons living with HIV who also use crack cocaine. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(3), 152–158. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2014.0112

Hazari, N. & Sakar, S. (2014) A Review of yoga and meditation neuroimaging studies in healthy subjects. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 20(1), 16-26.DOI: 10.1089/act.2014.20109

Hernández, S.E., Suero, J., Barros, A., González-Mora, J.L., & Rubia, K. (2016). Increased grey matter associated with long-term Sahaja yoga meditation: A voxel-based morphometry study. PLoS ONE 11(3): doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150757

Moss, D. (2011). Special issue: Yoga, meditation, and applied psychophysiology Biofeedback, 39, (2), 43–44. DOI: 10.5298/1081-5937-39.2.11


Yoga and Mental Health: Happiness & Its Causes at:

How Yoga Can Improve Our Mental Health at:

What are the Benefits of Yoga? At:

Yoga and Mental Health at: