Chiropractic care can play an important role both in preventing opiate addiction as well as facilitating recovery from it. On a physical, preventive level, chiropractic is the health care field that detects and corrects spinal subluxations, or misalignments, in order to reduce or eliminate the nerve interference that can cause pain, suffering and a negative impact on overall health.
The premise that “structure governs function” has long been the backbone (no pun intended) of the chiropractic profession. When the spine is misaligned, or subluxated, the spinal nerves that exit between the vertebrae can become impinged, and/or inflamed. These spinal nerves carry information from the brain and spine (Central Nervous System) to all the cells, tissues, organs and systems of the body. Likewise, information is returned back to the brain, via the spine, for processing. Any spinal misalignment, or subluxation, can potentially be painful and symptomatic, but symptomatic or not, it always interferes with the function of the effected nerves. As such, it compromises the muscles, joints, organs, systems and limbs those nerves regulate. Pain is very often the result!
When we are in terrible, ongoing pain, we cannot get comfortable, sleep through the night or function properly in our daily lives. Our jobs, relationships, hobbies, and the enjoyment of life in general, are adversely affected. This can lead to a compromised immune system as well as feelings of anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, this can lead to the use of prescription painkillers and the subsequent addiction that often follows. Although there are other scenarios that lead to the use of opiates, this is a very common one.
Fortunately, subluxations of the spine can be safely and effectively eliminated by way of gentle chiropractic adjustments. Restoring spinal integrity in this way can significantly reduce or eliminate one’s pain while allowing the body to function optimally. Having this natural, alternative modality means not having to resort to the use of prescription drugs, alcohol or illegal drugs to suppress pain and difficult feelings.
On a holistic level, chiropractic care can facilitate recovery from opiate addiction by helping the body re-establish a sense of well-being. While the word holistic conjures, for many, a deviation from science, that is not at all true in this case. Science is now bearing out what chiropractors have always maintained, and that is “the body needs no help, just no interference!”
It turns out that the interference to the nervous system from spinal subluxations can throw one’s Reward Cascade System out of whack. As a refresher, the Reward Cascade System is that intricate interplay of neurotransmitters and neuro-peptides that physiologically governs our moods and feelings of satisfaction, happiness and well-being.
A recent study divided 98 human subjects into three groups. The first group received standard residential treatment, the second group received standard residential treatment plus chiropractic care, and the third group received standard residential treatment plus placebo chiropractic care. The results were striking! The chiropractic group produced 100% retention rate within the 30 day residential drug treatment model with a statistically significant improvement in anxiety and depression.
How was this possible? Perhaps some basic brain anatomy is in order here. The limbic system, located within the brain, has long been known as the area responsible for mediating feelings and generating a sense of satisfaction and well-being via the Reward Cascade System. While science has long known that the limbic system includes other brain structures such as the amygdala and hypothalamus, they have now discovered that the limbic also includes structures located within the spinal cord itself! According to the research of Kenneth Blum, Ph.D., John G. Cull, Ph. D., and Jay Holder, D.C., this new evidence of the limbic system extending down into the spinal cord makes it easier to understand that any misalignment of the spine has the potential to disrupt the balance within the reward cascade.
Although the individual using opiates is not usually consciously aware of it, they are actually trying to establish homeostasis within the reward cascade system. In essence, they are pursuing a way to feel good when their own body has physiologically lost the ability to do so on its own. One can conceive that by eliminating vertebral subluxation via chiropractic adjustments, the recovering individual has an easier time reestablishing a normal reward cascade and less of a need to turn to opiates to provide that balance.
And even if the opiate user did not set out to consciously or subconsciously alter their reward cascade system, certainly long-term opiate use disrupts that delicate system and necessitates a return to normal function. Chiropractic care has now demonstrated the ability to do that. Is chiropractic care a panacea? Certainly not! But it does deserve a place in a comprehensive approach to opiate abuse prevention and recovery.
About the Author:
Dr. Alisa Cooper is a chiropractor, CCN (Certified Clinical Nutritionist), and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can contact Dr. Alisa by phone at 480-699-9735 or visit her website at www.LiveAndBeWell.com.