Addiction and Chiropractic Care

When it comes to chiropractic, many believe that its focus is to relieve patients of symptoms that are largely associated with musculoskeletal conditions and/or everyday aches and pains. However, research suggests that chiropractic intervention can be beneficial for patients who suffer from substance abuse.

Substances of abuse affect the structure and function of neurons that are localized in the brain’s reward system. This in turn, can cause long-lasting changes that lead to addictive behavior.  Repeated use of cocaine for example, causes dendritic sprouting in several areas of the brain that increase synaptic sensitivity and increase craving and relapse. This makes it incredibly difficult for individuals to control their addiction and dampens their potential for recovery.

A 63-year-old male with a history of cocaine abuse presented to the chiropractor with the following symptoms and conditions: low back pain, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, gastritis, benign prostate hypertrophy, obesity, venous insufficiency and significant cognitive impairment. At the time of his initial assessment, the patient also indicated the use of several medications such as Lisinopril, Prevacid, Aspirin, Hydrochlorothiazide, Potassium Chloride, ProAir inhaler, Spiriva, Symbiocort, Flomax, Flinasteride, and Seroquel. 

The patient’s chiropractic treatment consisted of Torque Release Technique (TRT), P300 wave testing, surface EMG and thermography by Insight Subluxation Station, and Addiction Severity Index (ASI) scores. He was seen three times per week over the course of an 8 month period whereby his progress was tracked using psychological assessments pre and post treatment. These assessments revealed an increase in the patient’s quality of life and an accompanying decrease in the symptoms mentioned above.

This case study provides evidence of positive health outcomes as a result of chiropractic care in the treatment of a patient with a cocaine addiction. In combination with a typical drug addiction treatment, the patient showed great improvement.

Holder, J.M., & Shriner, B. E. (2012). Subluxation Based Chiropractic Care in the Management of Cocaine Addiction: A Case Report. Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research.

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