Biofeedback treatment of narcotic addiction: A double-blind study

Manoochehr Khatami, George Woody, Charles O'Brien, Jim Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This is a report on the double-blind study on EMG biofeedback for 37 narcotic addicts in an outpatient methadone clinic. Patients were randomly assigned to either the experimental group (N = 24) receiving a contingent EMG biofeedback or a control group (N = 13) receiving non-contingent preaped "pseudo-biofeedback". All patients were stabilized on a study dose of methadone and the mean daily amount did not differ between groups. All were experiencing a significant degree of anxiety at the time of evaluation. The evaluation consisted of the patient's self-report, which comprised the Beck Depression Inventory, anxiety checklist, withdrawal sickness rating, drug references, and the psychiatrist's rating of depression, namely the Hamilton Depression Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Scale, and BPRS. In addition, an evaluation of progress was obtained from the patient and his counselor which included the current job or school status and brief ratings of drug use, psychiatric symptoms, social adjustment, and illegal activity. All patients had at least one urine sample analyzed weekly for illicit drug use. Evaluation was done at the beginning, and at the end of the treatment and at a follow-up one month later. Termination status was assessed only for subjects who completed the course of 15 biofeedback sessions (N = 19). Patients attended five sessions per week for thirty minutes just prior to receiving the methadone. Fifteen sessions were scheduled over a three-week period. The results indicated that the two study groups did not differ and there was a significant improvement (p < 0.05) on several variables for the total patient sample. All the psychiatric ratings of anxiety, depression, psychopathology were significantly reduced. In addition, self-rated craving for narcotics and self-rated anxiety were lower and there were fewer drug avoidance responses on the sentence completion test. But there were no meaningful differences in the two groups in improvement as reflected in the psychometric instruments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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