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neuroscience

Holistic Addiction Treatment: Chiropractic

By | Addiction Neuroscience, Chiropractic | 8 Comments

Holistic addiction treatment should include chiropractic care as an integral “moving part” of the approach.

Addiction is caused by a variety of factors including a genetic predisposition. We know that most genetic markers–this is certainly true for addiction–require initiators and promoters to manifest the associated disease. Anything from physical or emotional trauma to nutritional deficiency or toxicity in the environment can initiate or promote a genetic predisposition.

Addiction is a disorder that disables the brain from producing the “feel-good” chemicals most people take for granted. As a result addicts are not only uncomfortable in their own bodies, they are highly dysfunctional while looking to foreign substances for relief. Addicts are unable to read, assess and respond appropriately to their own internal signals, let alone those from external sources, including other human beings. The condition worsens as tolerance increases and the vicious cycle of chronic abuse further disables an already weakened brain chemical system.

Pain, physical or mental, is our internal alarm system of a threat to our well-being. Masking pain, through self-medication or therapies meant solely to help us live with it, is tantamount to thinking you can put out a fire by turning off the fire alarm.

Whatever the multi-factorial causation of addiction, our challenge as health professionals is to break the abuse cycle, then habituate the addict to healthy practices long enough to enable the brain to rewire and begin producing its own feel-good chemicals again–or perhaps for the first time ever.

Sedentary lifestyle, exacerbated by the standard American diet of high insulin and inflammation producing foods, are strong initiators and promoters–co‑conspirators–of addiction. Introducing recovering addicts to a foundation of moving and eating well in early recovery is imperative for long-term sobriety.

Though neuroscience has made great strides in the understanding and interaction of chemicals in the brain and their impact on behavior, we have more to learn than we know. Invasive, chemical interventions with incomplete knowledge have a high risk of unintended, sometimes disastrous, side effects. This is where chiropractic comes into the treatment and management of this complex illness of the mind, body and spirit.

The latest brain research shows that stimulation of sensors (called mechanoreceptors) found all over the body is necessary for optimal brain function. As the body–including the spine–moves functionally and in a full range of motion, signals are sent back to the brain saying, “All is well!” This allows the brain to continue transmitting this good news to the rest of the body where all mind body systems benefit, including our emotions.

On the other hand, if the body is inflexible, it is unable to stimulate these feel good sensors. A different signal (called nociception) is sent to the brain saying, “Danger, Danger!” In response to the alarm, the brain executes an order to release stress hormones like cortisol that marshal a whole body alert: “Fight or flight!” Individuals in poor physical condition risk a state of chronic stress–and stress is the number one trigger for addiction relapse.

Chiropractic is particularly effective in mitigating chronic stress because of its focus on the spine. More mechanoreceptor sensors are located in and around the spine than anywhere else in the body. If the spine–our core–is not moving well, not only does it affect movement in the rest of the body, it triggers a stress response that, among other health risks, increases addiction relapse.

At Recovery Health Care, our Blueprint for Recovery™ 90-day program offers recovering addicts a series of chiropractic adjustments that allow the stimulation of the natural, feel-good neural pathways. As the individual makes progress, we add daily movement exercises, diet changes, and auriculotherapy to reinforce behavior that will bolster the neurological rewiring necessary for lasting change to feel well and become functional members of the community.

Neuroscience confirms that having a trained and qualified chiropractor on your integrated team for addiction treatment and management is a healthy decision.

mind_body

Chiropractic Care: Using the Body to Heal the Mind

By | Chiropractic | 7 Comments

An idea whose time is now: Chiropractic care and using the body to heal the mind in addiction treatment.

Substance and behavior abuse have reached epidemic proportions in our country. This coupled with the emotional repression and stress associated with living in our outside-in, consumer culture has produced America’s number 1 health challenge: Addiction.

The cost of treatment, the repercussions on society and our family structures are devastating not to mention the high number of ancillary deaths that are directly associated with the disease of addiction–from auto accidents to heart failure.

It is a well known statistic that only 25% of those who seek addiction treatment have successful results. In other words, 75%, or 3 out of 4 of the individuals who do seek treatment for addiction fail and fall back into the seemingly endless revolving door of relapse-remission-relapse from this destructive brain disorder. The strongest implication is that the culture that fosters addiction, begets addiction.

In lieu of reinventing our culture but in the spirit of re-visioning addiction treatment, it is time to try different approaches and combinations of approaches when it comes to addiction recovery.

Addiction is a mind-body-spirit disorder as spelled out by the mainstream, American Medical Association’s, American Society of Addiction Medicine (http://www.asam.org/for-the-public/definition-of-addiction). It stands to reason that its treatment should include mind, body and spiritual modalities as an integrated, comprehensive approach.

The “target organ” for addiction is the brain (just as the pancreas is the target organ for diabetes) and specifically the meso-limbic or mid-brain. Historically, addiction treatment has focused upon healing the mind with brain treatment modalities like psychotherapy and drug therapy.

Since 1935, and while there are many other approaches, Alcoholics Anonymous has been the mainstay for the “spiritual” piece in the equation.

But in keeping with a more comprehensive approach, what about an integral modality that focuses attention on the physical body–mind-body-spirit?–equally, and as important as the mind and the spirit? Can the body contribute to healing the mind and the spirit?

After all, the body is truly an extension of the mind–an actual projected map of the brain–with remarkable knowledge, wisdom and inherent healing and recuperative capabilities from head to toe. Our bodies are veritable learning domains. Ever had a “gut feeling?” In fact, most of the receptor sites for many neurotransmitters–the “well being” brain chemicals–are in the gut and not in the brain proper.

No wonder then, and who has not felt remarkably inspired and well, after exercising the body as it releases all of these inherent, feel good chemicals? A never ending feedback loop from the brain to the body and vice-versa, inform every fiber of our beings every moment we live.

Intervening at the level of the body through techniques that deliberately remove interference from this pristine system is unfortunately, just what the present day, addiction doctor is not ordering. Chiropractic care is just such an indicated and effective approach and often a missing link in the addiction treatment community. Chiropractic helps ensure that a clear, uninterrupted signal is getting from the brain to all of the body parts and back to the brain again. And people who undergo chiropractic care are taught that without good lifestyle habits including flexibility, strength and cardiovascular exercise, good nutrition and a psychological/spiritual practice–chiropractic care is incomplete and will be less effective.

Similarly, the same “missing piece” dynamic holds true for what’s missing in addiction treatment and chiropractic care addresses the “body” piece of the mind-body-spirit equation effectively and seamlessly. Chiropractic is not a panacea but a time and cost efficient, conservative, minimally invasive way to bridge this gap in addiction treatment.

The idea of wedding mind and body approaches to healing is not a new one. For centuries and long before the first traces of modern science, healing arts practitioners from the mainstream to the esoteric alike have acknowledged that the way people felt in their minds could influence the way they responded in their bodies–and vice versa.

There is no separation of body and mind and we are just coming to understand how profoundly and inextricably entwined these two parts of our being along with spirit, interact in communion for our well being.

Including chiropractic care in a comprehensive addiction treatment protocol–especially in the first 90 days of treatment is important for the following reasons:

  • Providing human touch/compassion fostering neuroplasticity to help “re-write” dysfunctional brain circuitry
  • Removes interference from normal nerve function
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Decreases use of chemical pain relievers and psychiatric drugs
  • Greater sense of well being
  • Increases energy levels
  • Decreases stress levels
  • Decreases joint and muscle pain

A mind-body-spirit approach to addiction is synergistic in action, in other words, the sum total is greater than its parts. As our health systems and institutions move from the compartmentalized, mechanistic approach of yesterday, to the integrated, vitalistic and holistic framework of today, let the mind-body-spirit approach of addiction medicine and treatment help blaze this new trail by incorporating in this endeavor, the largest, drugless, hands-on healing profession in the world: chiropractic.