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Brain Training for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders: Non-Medical Breakthrough Therapies for the 21st Century

The Current Situation – Great Cause for Alarm!

There has been a distinct disconnect between the “mind” and “brain” sciences when it comes to addiction, and what is looked at more and more as being at the root of addiction and substance use – learning and behavioral disorders. In her ground-breaking book, Unbroken Brain: A revolutionary new way of understanding addiction, Maia Szalavitz states:

“Our brains are embodied – much of the problem with the debate over addiction and psychiatry more generally is a refusal to accept this and our ongoing need to see “physical”, “neurological”, and “psychological” as completely distinct.”

There is a fundamental flaw with this outdated thinking, a flaw that has in part led to skyrocketing heroin usage (especially among those ages 18-25) and overdose rates that have quadrupled since 2010[1]. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit drugs cost the US nearly $200 billion annually, just behind alcohol and tobacco use ($224 and $295 billion, respectively)[2]. Not to mention, the obvious cost of lives lost, fractured relationships, and communities being torn apart.

Clearly, things are getting worse, not better. Substance use is becoming harder than ever to treat given the broad scope of substances being used, increasing potency levels, rates of consumption, varied methods of delivery, decreasing age of usage, and the numerous learning and behavioral issues those with addiction have prior to onset that have not been appropriately treated (or, treated with medications that may lead to, or complicate, the addiction itself).

At the Root of the Problem

ADHD, anxiety, OCD, ODD, anxiety, depression, sensory processing disorders, schizophrenia, and PTSD are just some of the many learning, behavioral, and mental health disorders that cause people to seek balance in their life through use of chemical substances. The long-held belief that addiction is genetic and an inevitable consequence for the affected, or that substance users are damaged and incapable of recovery, is beginning to dissolve. So are many of the tough love and shaming techniques that have been the norm across the addictions treatment arena for well over half a century.    

Time for a Paradigm Shift

To understand that learning dictates behavior, and that impaired learning will lead to behavioral patterns that will set the stage for addiction, is the first step in effectively dealing with substance use disorders. Most learning and behavioral challenges have physical and cognitive manifestations that can be measured (i.e. impaired eye movements, balance, timing, attention, memory, etc.), whether prior to or during the addiction recovery process[3].  

Once these impairments are measured, there are a host of research-backed Brain Training modalities that can be implemented by qualified professionals for correction of deficient function. This will lead to more effective remediation of the learning or behavioral disorder, and, ultimately, the seeking of normalcy through chemical dependence that is hallmark with substance use disorders.

Brain Training for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders

  • Brainwave Optimization – Better known as neurofeedback (NFB), neurobiofeedback, or neurotherapy. NFB, while available since the 1950s, has gained significant popularity in the recovery arena as of late. Through sophisticated computer analysis, one is trained to self-regulate brainwave activity by hearing sounds or other reinforcements that signal a more desirable or efficient state of function within the brain has been obtained.
  • Training of Brain Timing – Temporal processing is the rate at which sounds can be processed in the brain. When one is unable to process at sufficient and accurate rates, learning will be impaired and behavior impacted. Programs like the Interactive Metronome® have been shown to improve learning capacity, attention and focus, and decrease destructive impulsive and repetitive behaviors.
  • Training of Balance – The balance (vestibular) system, which is made up of structures in the inner ear and is directly influenced by systems of vision, posture, and hearing, is directly plugged into our frontal brain[4]. This more “human” part of our brain has a profound influence on learning and behavior and is positively impacted by improvements in balance and coordination.
  • Training of Eye Movements – Fixating on a target in your visual field, moving your eyes slow or fast, watching an object move closer or further away, and certain inborn eye reflexes help to make us uniquely human. Many of the control centers of these functions live in our frontal brain. Correction of certain faults in eye movements can lead to improved cognitive abilities.
  • Neurological Rehabilitation – While training of balance and eye movements fall into this category, they have been given separate explanation given their heavy influence on learning and behavior. Complex motor skills, whole body vibration, electrical stimulation, strength and conditioning, smell and sound therapies, and so much more impact the brain in a positive way to minimize the effects of learning and behavioral issues on one’s life.
  • Metabolic Therapies – To address brain function without paying mind to the numerous nutritional and metabolic factors that go into a properly functioning brain is akin to throwing a bunch of random ingredients together and hoping it turns out like your favorite dish. Blood sugar, stress hormones, neurotransmitters, micronutrients, food allergies, among countless other factors, are just a sampling of what can be evaluated, and in many cases corrected, via dietary shifts and nutraceutical intervention.

A New Era for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders

While mental health therapies have been, and always will be, an integral component of a sound addiction recovery strategy; more is needed. It is abundantly clear that what is in fact needed are scientific, evidence-based strategies to address the underlying learning and behavioral issues that are the hallmark of any addiction profile. What is needed is Brain Training… To measure and manage numerous ‘biomarkers’ of brain function with sophisticated diagnostic testing, and effect positive change in these markers through progressive neurological training modalities. This, in concert with the more traditional mental health options, is what holds the greatest hope for recovery in those battling addiction and substance use disorders!

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/heroin.html

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics

[3] http://apexbraincenters.com/blog/5-important-tests-to-consider-when-seeking-treatment-for-addiction/

[4] http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnint.2014.00059/full

The APEX ‘Day of Discovery’

Day of DiscoveryAnalyzing brain activity

  • Is your brain not working as well as it used to?
  • Have you been struggling with a recent or lifelong brain performance issue that you want answers for?
  • Or, do you simply want to know how well your brain is working to ensure it is serving you optimally?
  • If you knew there was something you could do to tell, would you do it?

…If so, APEX Brain Centers’ comprehensive ‘Day of Discovery’ is just what you’ve been looking for.

What is it?

The Day of Discovery is an extremely valuable and critical investment in your health, longevity and prosperity. Fear of a declining brain is one of the top issues of our time, and this unique opportunity puts the power of informed guidance in your hands to make the best choices possible for your brain and body health. By investigating numerous ‘biomarkers’ of brain health and integrity, we are able to connect the dots between your experience of life and your current state of brain and body function.

Your Day of Discovery will include the following:

  • Comprehensive history and review of previous diagnostic testing
  • Comprehensive neurological exam looking at functions of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system
  • Quantitative EEG (qEEG) for measurement of brainwave activity
  • Cognitive testing to assess memory, attention, executive function and more
  • Videonystagmography (VNG) for detailed assessment of eye movements
  • Dynamic posturography for investigation of multiple aspects of balance
  • Interactive Metronome testing of mental and physical timing capabilities
  • Review of all testing with precise recommendations for appropriate intervention

What should I expect and how do I prepare?

Your Day of Discovery will take anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on physical ability, level of fatigue, technical factors and any unforeseen circumstances. You will spend the duration of the day in our office and should pack a healthy lunch/snack depending on time of day. You should do your best to obtain quality sleep prior to your Day of Discovery, refrain from alcohol/recreational drug/cigarette intake, maintain adequate hydration, eat a healthy breakfast the morning of testing, bring copies of any pertinent diagnostic tests with you, be on time to ensure the smoothest of transitions throughout the day, not wear any skin care products/make-up/hair gel, and bring a positive and proactive attitude with you as this day is designed to empower you with critical information to help you create positive change in your life; not to point out flaws in your performance!

Call us today at 828.708.5274 to set up your Day of Discovery, or email us at [email protected] for more information.

From the Admissions Desk

Mike ErvinWhat is Apex Brain Centers and how is it a Revolution in Brain Training?

Quick answer: Yes, you CAN improve your brain function and we have discovered that high frequency and calculated intensity of brain training is the best approach to help you reach your peak level of function and performance.  We have been taught through the years that there is little we can do to improve certain conditions such as addiction, adult learning and behavioral issues, certain mental health issues, or reaching and sustaining the top level of professional and physical performance.  We have also been taught that we just need to study harder to get better scores when taking tests for the next level of education.  These things are not necessarily true.  While we are born with or have things happen to us causing us to struggle with certain aspects of our lives, there is ALWAYS hope we can improve from where we are or from what we have lost!

At first I thought Apex Brain Centers was just about helping specific people with specific conditions reach a higher level of function.  This falls a bit short of our true mission and purpose: Offering people HOPE when they have been told over and over again that there is no hope beyond where they are (this hope is often hard to find).  Apex Brain Centers can help open pathways in the brain quickly and with long lasting results.  It does not need to take months or years to improve as the plasticity of the brain allows for new pathways to be formed leading clients and their families to find new ways of getting to where they always wanted to get to, and do things they always hoped to do!

As the admissions director for Apex, it’s exciting to know I have been and will be in contact with people offering them HOPE and a solid way to get on track with their purpose in life. The Apex Team can help you learn more about the process of making positive changes in your brain quickly.  This can be done in just a few weeks and much less expensively than current methods.  When you are on a road trip and you get lost or turned around, you look for the best and quickest way to get where you wanted to go.  Apex is here to help you find the right direction and the quickest path; saving you time, energy, and money in the process.

This past week I was privileged to witness what we do in a powerful way (video testimonial coming soon).  A young man who has had significant lifetime learning and behavioral struggles was able to show his mother the work he has been doing (Mother: “I can see the changes he making, he has a smile and he was up early asking to go to breakfast, just not something he does.”).  The smile on both of their faces says it all!

Should you find yourself struggling with certain aspects of your life, not living up to your own potential, or you just want to reach the next level of performance; Apex Brain Centers is here to offer you HOPE and effective interventions to help you along your way.

Call us and discover the Revolution in Brain Training for yourself.  We will help you reach Your PEAK.

Mike Ervin

Admissions Director, Apex Brain Centers

APEX Brain Centers is leading the way in neuroplasticity-based brain enhancement programs that are opening new doors for those struggling with addictions, learning and behavioral disabilities, test performance, athletic performance and more.

2 Walden Ridge Drive (STE 80) ~ Asheville, NC 28803 ~ 828.708.5274
© 2015 APEX Brain Centers