Effects of an EEG biofeedback protocol on a mixed substance abusing population

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2005;31(3):455-69. doi: 10.1081/ada-200056807.


This study examined whether an EEG biofeedback protocol could improve outcome measures for a mixed substance abusing inpatient population.

Method: One hundred twenty-one volunteers undergoing an inpatient substance abuse program were randomly assigned to the EEG biofeedback or control group. EEG biofeedback included training in Beta and SMR to address attentional variables, followed by an alpha-theta protocol. Subjects received a total of 40 to 50 biofeedback sessions. The control group received additional time in treatment equivalent to experimental procedure time. The Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA), and MMPI, were administered with both tester and subject blind as to group placement to obtain unbiased baseline data. Treatment retention and abstinence rates as well as psychometric and cognitive measures were compared.

Results: Experimental subjects remained in treatment significantly longer than the control group (p <0.005). Of the experimental subjects completing the protocol, 77% were abstinent at 12 months, compared to 44% for the controls. Experimental subjects demonstrated significant improvement on the TOVA (p<.005) after an average of 13 beta-SMR sessions. Following alpha-theta training, significant differences were noted on 5 of the 10 MMPI-2 scales at the p<.005 level.

Conclusions: This protocol enhanced treatment retention, variables of attention, and abstinence rates one year following treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Length of Stay
  • MMPI
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Theta Rhythm