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A Neurotherapeutic Approach to

Obsessive/Compulsive Disorders

"Substance abuse can harm your nervous system. Neurofeedback (or EEG biofeedback) is a painless, non-invasive therapy that can help repair those negative effects. Studies have shown neurofeedback can be effective in treating conditions like substance use disordersdepressionPTSD, and ADHD." 

Footprints to Recovery, an inpatient addiction recovery center 

Addiction Treatment Tucson

Obsessive & Compulsive Disorders and Neuroscience

Struggling with obsessive/compulsive disorders does not indicate personal weakness or a moral failing. Rather, addiction is increasingly being understood as a condition that arises from clear, physiological differences in the brain. (DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S164307,  DOI:10.1111/adb.12457, & DOI: 10.1038/bjp.2008.30) That is, addiction is a condition that originates from the physical makeup of the brain and not from personal psychology. 


Neurotherapy works to normalize what is dysfunctional in the brain. When used alongside traditional psychotherapy, neurotherapy for addiction can be an especially helpful adjunctive treatment and tool in laying the groundwork for permanent recovery.

The brain contains pathways that, when stimulated, allow one to experience feelings of pleasure and reward. Research has suggested that it is abnormalities in these same pathways which may play a role in addiction. (DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S16430) In addition to innate physiological differences, drugs of abuse--such as methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol and nicotine—change the neurophysiological balance of these reward networks in various ways, such as depleting the brain’s ability to distribute dopamine and serotonin.

Addiction Treatment Tucson

There are many types of obsessive behaviors, ranging from alcohol, amphetamines, shopping, or sex. And while, from a QEEG perspective, fixation has several presentations, a common phenotype uniting these profiles is a low power, fast EEG (doi: 10.1007/s10484-007-9047-5). This is a presentation that is frequently seen among those who struggle with alcohol and nicotine cravings. The low power in the EEG could be the result of dampening of the GABA-a receptors in the brain.

For low power fast EEGs profiles, a good approach is using neurostimulation to increase the brain’s electrical power. 

Therapeutic potential for this presentation is especially good when individuals pursue talk therapy alongside neurotherapy.  We will work with you to find a therapist that best suits your needs. 

What does the research say about neurotherapy's efficacy in treating compulsive and obsessive disorders? 

There is a growing body of research that indicates that neurotherapy is a valuable tool in the treatment of addiction. Examples of notable research in the field include the following:


1. Jansen et al. (2013) demonstrated that neurotherapy may reduce unhealthy food cravings (

2. Gorini et al. (2014) demonstrated that direct current neurostimulation reduces risk-taking behaviors (

3. Conti et al. (2014) found that neurostimulation reduced brain reactivity to addictive stimuli (10.1017/S1461145714000522 )

4. Batista et al. (2015) found that neurostimulation of the prefrontal cortex reduced addictive cravings in those suffering from cocaine addiction (10.1093/ijnp/pyv066 )

These studies are but a sample of research that supports the efficacy of neurofeedback and neurostimulation in the treatment of addiction. It is helpful to be well-informed of how neurofeedback works and the potential it holds to help you obtain a better quality of life. We recommend Getting Started with Neurofeedback as clear, easy-to-understand overview of the science backing neurofeedback. 

A consistent finding of research is that, for neurostimulation to be effective, it needs to be tailored to your unique brain. For this reason, we consider the QEEG an invaluable tool in better understanding and treating you as a whole person. Feel free to reach out to us for more information or to schedule a QEEG brain scan. 

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