By: Nisha Moore
To read Part 1…
As we are continuing our study on addiction and the mind, we are now going to look at the connection between the conscious and subconscious mind and how that feeds into addiction and recovery.
We will also take a look at how the mind can be restored through healthful techniques and supporting practices. Specifically we are going to look more at the art of neurofeedback and what that looks like for the mind and recovery.
The mind operates our emotions-behaviors-decisions-learning-memories- and bodily processes. It is our powerhouse with many modes of operation, but few modes for transportation. As it was mentioned previously, our brains means for transportation occurs through neurotransmission of neurotransmitters through chemical messaging and electrical impulses.
Neurotransmitters convey important information within our brains. They influence our emotions, feelings, mood, motor coordination, sleep and immunity are simply just a few. Supported by Amino Acids, neurotransmitters are powerful transporters.
The normative functioning and operation of the brain become altered through drug use and abuse. Addiction ultimately affects how well the brain is able to cognitively function and carry out tasks. To more clearly understand this process, we must look further into the mind. More specifically, the subconscious and conscious mind.
So what does addiction have to do with the subconscious and conscious states of the mind? Psychologists and philosophers have for centuries explored the depth of the subject through study of the conscious and subconscious mind.
It is a captivating study, with fascinating findings. Conscious mind relates to your higher thinking and processing of information.
This is where the mind stores memories and events from the day, feelings, and information. In this state of mind, a person is aware of their thoughts, and the environment that surrounds them.
The subconscious mind incorporates automated processes and life functioning. Behaviors we learn are stored here. This state of mind also incorporates our fight or flight response, again an automated process. Under the subconscious mind many process happen without our full awareness to them.
So how does the conscious and subconscious mind have anything to do with addiction? More than you would think. Athena Staika, a family therapist and counselor, explains addiction and the conscious/subconscious as, “[addicts] having an inability to stop behaviors they themselves recognize [to be] destructive or harmful, and yet feel powerless to stop”.
She continues to write that, “without conscious-thinking our subconscious body-mind cannot distinguish between pain — or pleasure — that threatens rather than promotes our growth and well being and aliveness”.
The conscious and subconscious mind interaction when harmonizing and working well with one another allows for balance in the brain. When drugs interfere with this balance, these two mind lack proper communication and can become very irregular. Treatment looks to correct this communication and aid in dissipating the irregularities.
Krista (a Neurofeedback Technician at Bridging the Gaps) uses neurofeedback as a tool to speak to the subconscious mind of recovering addicts to aid them in healing their mind. She vividly describes Neurofeedback as a non-invasive tool that allows for an introspective look into one’s self.
She states that “Through looking at one’s self, and how they are interacting with their environment, self-correction shifts the focus of the mind. Shifting the state of the mind so that the brain stays in a given state for a longer duration, has shown to really help people.”
One does not have a lot of control over the many functions and operations of the brain (heart rate, blood pressure, involuntary moment, release of neurotransmitters). Many of these processes occur without our awareness, as the body’s way of keeping it alive.
As it has been mentioned, neurofeedback is simply a tool used to find the harmony between the subconscious and the conscious. Bill Scott, a creator of a neurofeedback system explains it as working on helping the mind become “more interactive [with the environment and self] verses reactive”.
It is through this positive interaction that the brain is able to “self-correct” and function more efficiently outside of just biofeedback. The greater the number of sessions one receives, has been correlated with an increase in optimized of brain functioning and dissipation of symptoms once experienced.
Bringing to the mind some of the subconscious thoughts, so that the conscious mind can process and work through them is some of what Neurofeedback does. It also works to increase concentration and alertness.
Ultimately overtime, this teaches the brain to self-regulate. It is all about utilizing the tools that Neurofeedback has to offer, as a way to optimize the functioning of the brain back into working order. In conjunction with the other health modalities that we offer here at Bridging the Gaps, recovery is supported as well as the well-being of the clients who are treated.