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Monday, May 30, 2016

Training Your Brain to Fight Addiction

training your brain to fight addictionYou may be skeptical that you can "train" your brain out of substance abuse, but Professor Paul Dolan is successfully using cognitive bias modification (CBM) to help people cut back on their alcohol consumption. As the author of the bestselling book Happiness by Design, Dolan believes his work can help people reduce their unconscious preference for alcoholic drinks over non-alcoholic ones.

Dolan's technique works by showing participants pictures of different types of drinks, including beer, wine, soda, juice, water, and milk. Software tracks how fast the user pushes away the images of alcoholic beverages.  If the user is found to have a preference towards alcoholic drinks, he or she is asked to devote 15 minutes to mentally "pushing away" these drinks and "pulling toward" the non-alcoholic alternatives.

This type of CBM is simple but effective. Those who have studied Dolan's work found that alcoholics who underwent four 15-minute sessions in a four-day time span saw a reduced preference for alcohol and had a 13% lower than expected relapse rate one year after receiving the training.

CBM techniques are still being refined, but other studies appear to support Dolan's theory that the brain can be trained to fight addiction. In 2011, Psychology Today reported that people with less working memory had poor executive control. Since executive control is linked to our ability to control unwanted behaviors like drinking to excess, exercises designed to improve working memory make it easier for substance abusers to resist the temptation to relapse. Brain training has also been found to be effective in fighting mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Coast to Coast Can Help You Fight Your Addiction
Although CBM isn't a magic cure for addiction, it's a better tool than relying on willpower alone. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that requires a targeted treatment approach. Coast to Coast Recovery Centers helps you overcome your addiction with proven treatment approaches, including non-12 step programs that use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), yoga, meditation, art therapy, acupuncture, and other holistic methods. We even offer extensive post-treatment support designed to help prevent a relapse.

Ready to get help for you or a loved one? Call us at 800.210.8229 or submit a confidential online request for information.

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