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Neurofeedback for targeting drug-induced symptoms

Neurofeedback has the ability to target the specific neurological differences in recreational drug users, including modifications in brain activity patterns and connectivity that are related to drug use.

With the help of brain imaging techniques like qEEG, these differences can be identified and addressed with individualised neurofeedback protocols that are tailored to meet the unique needs of each person.

These protocols are carefully monitored and adjusted for the most effective treatment outcome.


With neurofeedback, individuals can work towards restoring improved brain functions, alleviating drug-induced symptoms like depression and anxiety, reducing drug cravings, facilitating long-lasting recovery, and ultimately improving their overall quality of life.

Neuroplasticity, drug use and neurofeedback

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to experiences and learning. Prolonged drug use can have detrimental effects on neuroplasticity, resulting in long-lasting alterations to neural connections and pathways, affecting how circuits are wired. These undesirable drug-induced neuroplastic changes can result in dysfunctional reward pathways and impaired communication between neurons, causing long-term side effects such as depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and psychotic-like symptoms.

Despite these negative effects, the brain’s remarkable neuroplasticity also offers opportunities for recovery and healing, even after drug-induced changes have occurred. Neurofeedback is one technique that can harness the brain’s neuroplasticity by rewiring neurons to improve brain function. Neurofeedback can help with maladaptive patterns that lead to different behavioural and emotional symptoms of dysregulation caused by drug use. It allows the dysregulated brain to learn to correct itself, make new connections, and encourage better communication between different regions, ultimately facilitating recovery and ameliorating side effects. 

Neurofeedback and Functional Connectivity 

Recent research has highlighted the promising role of neurofeedback training in improving brain function and modulating functional connectivity. This method involves targeting specific brain regions to enhance or suppress specific neural activity, leading to positive changes in functional connectivity and improved cognitive and emotional functioning (Krylova et al., 2021). Such improvements can also be associated with overall well-being, making neurofeedback a widely-used technique for individuals with various mental health conditions (Megumi et al., 2015; Li et al., 2020).

Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of neurofeedback in improving functional connectivity in individuals with various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and ADHD (Taylor et al., 2022; Zhao et al., 2019; Rubia et al., 2019).

Drug use can significantly impact the brain’s functional connectivity, leading to symptoms of depression and anxiety (Ersche et al., 2020; Leyrer-Jackson et al., 2021). Neurofeedback training can be an effective tool in reversing these negative changes by targeting specific brain regions affected by drug use. Through connectivity neurofeedback training, individuals can reduce drug cravings and improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and psychosis (Martz et al., 2020).

Points to consider when looking at drug research

Inconsistencies in the literature in recreational drug studies and EEG changes are common. Some factors that may contribute to inconsistencies include:

1.    Study design: variations in study design, such as differences in drug administration method, dose, and frequency.
2.    Sample size: small sample sizes may not have enough statistical power to detect small changes in EEG readings, leading to inconsistent results.
3.    Subject population: variations in the subject population, such as differences in age, gender, comorbid disorders, drug use history, poly-drug users, and abstinence duration, may affect the results. For instance, when studying polydrug abusers, the observed EEG effects of a specific drug may not be solely attributed to that drug but rather may be influenced by chronic exposure to other serious drugs of abuse. This can confound the results and make it difficult to determine the pure effect of the drug being investigated. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully examine the subject population when evaluating drug research or account for these confounding variables when analysing data. 
4.    EEG methodology: differences in EEG measurement methodology, such as electrode placement and signal processing techniques.
5.    Statistical analysis: variations in statistical analysis methods, such as different statistical tests or methods of controlling for confounding variables.


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