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It is ironic that chiropractic —a health care methodology that is committed to being drug-free—is being utilized more and more as an effective treatment for the ravages of addiction. Addiction is a major public health problem these days, with the National Institutes for Health (NIH) estimating that 15% of Americans can be classified as “problem drinkers” or alcoholics, and that 1 in 10 Americans are either addicted to or in recovery from the use of illegal drugs. And the problem of drug addiction is far from being limited to illegal drugs; the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that millions of Americans meet abuse or dependence criteria for prescription opioids and painkillers used to treat their chronic pain.  Add to alcohol and drugs other mainstream sources of addiction (smoking and gambling for example), and it becomes quite clear that addiction is a broad problem that negatively affects the lives of those addicted and their families as well as society at large.

Let’s talk for a minute just about substance abuse. Whether the source of the addiction is alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs the reasons people have for taking them in the first place are remarkably consistent, and based on feelings of dis-ease. People are in such pain – physical pain as the result of injury or disease, or emotional pain as the result of psychological trauma or mental illness – that they turn to these addictive substances to dull their ever-present pain and just “get through the day.” And while there are conditions for which powerful opioid painkillers can be legitimately prescribed, the continued use of them can be as debilitating as the illegal drugs, and can wreak havoc on people’s overall physical and mental health.

Chiropractic care is increasingly being shown to be remarkably effective at eliminating the dependency that such individuals have on these addictive substances, and at helping them to live alcohol- and drug-free lives. Chiropractic does this by often eliminating some or all of the chronic pain that caused the person to resort to drugs or alcohol in the first place, easing the levels of physical aches and pains that cause a person to crave prescription medication or seek to self-medicate.

But because chiropractic care is above all holistic and designed to improve all aspects of a person’s life simultaneously, chiropractic treatment can also relieve psychological pain and mental distress, and enable people to re-achieve a sense of well-being. On a physical level, the spinal adjustment received during chiropractic care have been shown to release endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals in the brain, and thus to directly improve the sense of well-being. When the spine is in proper alignment, powerful chemicals known as neurotransmitters are released in their intended order and amount, resulting in positive mental states. One recent study published in the journal Medical Psychiatry found that when a 30-day addiction recovery program was supplemented with frequent chiropractic adjustments, the subjects achieved an unprecedented 100% success rate with the program.

Chiropractic care is safe, effective, and long-lasting, helping people’s bodies to heal in a holistic manner. Having this alternative means that they don’t need to resort to the use of prescription drugs, alcohol or illegal drugs to suppress their pain and feelings of dis-ease. So if you or someone you know and love is struggling with addiction issues of any kind, please look into the benefits that professional chiropractic care could bring to their recovery.

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