Chiropractic Care May Aid Addiction Recovery

A properly aligned spine may be another tool for battling substance abuse.

Research indicates that when misalignments — or subluxations — occur in the spine, the proper function of neurotransmitters is interrupted.

When these misalignments are corrected, and the nerves are in correct order, neurotransmitters can be released in the right pattern. This contributes to a sense of calm that may help ward off drug cravings and aid in addiction recovery, helping patients in recovery stay the course.

In contrast, when the spine is improperly aligned and pressure is applied to tissues, the chemicals known as neurotransmitters may be blocked or released in an incorrect pattern, thus inhibiting a sense of well-being.

The connection between spinal alignment and drug recovery has recently been studied by Jay Holder, a Florida doctor and chiropractor at the Exodus Treatment Center in Miami Beach. Holder studied treatment for drug addiction in nearly 100 participants, comparing treatment that involved chiropractic adjustments with patients who only received traditional, non-chiropractic rehabilitation care and another group who received “fake” spinal adjustments during their recovery program.

Published in Molecular Psychiatry, Holder’s research suggests that during a 30-day span, when chiropractic care was implemented in combination with traditional recovery strategies, participants showed a 100 percent level of completion for the program. Emotional problems associated with recovery, like anxiety and depression, also declined for these patients.

In comparison, the groups who received only traditional recovery strategies and those who received care in the placebo group — including fake chiropractic adjustments — showed lower program continuity rates, in line with typical drug recovery patients at about 55%.

The study results are significant because the success of a person’s recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is often linked to their ability to remain in a 28 or 30-day program. However, Holder says that in the U.S., more than one-fourth of program participants will drop out before the cycle is completed.

Chiropractic care, Holder suggests, may create enough of a sense of calm to encourage patients to keep going in their treatment plan. In addition, this sense of calm can contribute to greater participation and success in a group therapy setting.

During the study, Holder focused treatments on the Torque Release Technique, which releases trapped tissues along the spine and the tailbone area. When these tissues are restricted by misalignments, the limbic system can be affected — or the set of brain structures believed to control emotions may be affected as well. In addition, the body’s neurotransmitters are unable to perform normally.

Holder’s research emphasizes that chiropractic care is not a new type of drug addiction therapy, but rather a supplement to traditional in-patient and out-patient programs. He also explains that chiropractic care cannot treat a drug or alcohol addiction problem, nor any other addiction, but could be viewed as a complement to existing programs.

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