Holistic Addiction Treatment: Chiropractic

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.

Dr. Herby Bell is a Recovery and Wellness Coach and owner of Recovery Health Care, an integrated approach to wellness and addiction recovery in Saratoga, California. For more information please call 650 474 9411 or Email: herbybell@me.com.  Connect with me online too:  Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • […] and help people to begin to understand their own bodies again–or maybe for the first time! Chiropractic does this by first getting the core of our body’s movement, the spine, to move as it was designed to move […]

  • According to Chirobase, chiropractic care has been used to treat a number of conditions not connected to the musculoskeletal systems. This includes hypertension, dizziness/vertigo and chronic pelvic pain.

    • HerbyBell says:

      Thanks for the comment, John. The big idea is that we stop using outside-in modalities to “treat” this or that. When we can begin using thoughtful, least invasive techniques, e.g., chiropractic, acupuncture, etc., to remove interference from a system that already has self-healing, self-regulating intelligence–as wellness interventions to uphold wellness thresholds, we’ll be moving in the right direction.

      Applying reductionistic, mechanistic, symptom relieving measures only and waiting for the symptoms to return is not the answer for the chronic illness of addiction, (or any other HEALTH care, for that matter). We need to move away from our SICK care mentality and the addiction treatment community is poised to do just that.

      Getting well and STAYING well is the answer. Chiropractic is one modality that can help in that endeavor.
      HerbyBell Wants You To Read…#34: Steve Sundberg – Journaling and Writing Your Sober DiaryMy Profile

  • I have to agree… Chiropractic neurology is an proof-base model of care which is utilize diagnostic and treatment approaches that can calculate and reinstate the functional dealings between neurological system in health and disease.

  • Kat says:

    I love holistic cures before conventional treatment and I agree that one of the chiropractic benefits is stress relief. It has worked on me numeral times.
    Kat Wants You To Read…How To Get Rid Of Blotchy SkinMy Profile

    • HerbyBell says:

      And I love the fact, Kat, that everything is already holistic and it just takes a new perception to understand holistic approaches are not “alternative” to anything. I had an old mentor tell me, Herby, if you don’t ever get away from the basics, you’ll never have to “get back to the basics.” Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Kat.

  • Hello Herby, You have posted very nice article. I know that chiropractic care can help to get relieve from headaches and body aches but I never knew it can help to treat addiction.

    • HerbyBell says:

      Thanks for your kind comments. And yes, it is the body’s inherent healing capabilities that is in play here. Chiropractic, just a way to remove the interference. A bit like taking the kinks out of the garden hose to get vital nutrients to your garden, yeah? Thanks for visiting RHC!/Herby

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