EEG biofeedback as a treatment for substance use disorders: review, rating of efficacy, and recommendations for further research

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2008 Mar;33(1):1-28. doi: 10.1007/s10484-007-9047-5. Epub 2008 Jan 24.


Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback has been employed in substance use disorder (SUD) over the last three decades. The SUD is a complex series of disorders with frequent comorbidities and EEG abnormalities of several types. EEG biofeedback has been employed in conjunction with other therapies and may be useful in enhancing certain outcomes of therapy. Based on published clinical studies and employing efficacy criteria adapted by the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback and the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research, alpha theta training-either alone for alcoholism or in combination with beta training for stimulant and mixed substance abuse and combined with residential treatment programs, is probably efficacious. Considerations of further research design taking these factors into account are discussed and descriptions of contemporary research are given.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / genetics
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy
  • Beta Rhythm
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Illicit Drugs