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-one health challenge: addiction.
The cost of treatment and 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
three out of four 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
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
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 such as psychotherapy and drug
therapy. And since 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has been the mainstay for
the “spiritual” piece in the equation, though there are other models.
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
wellbeing brain chemicals – are in the gut and not in the brain proper.
No wonder, and who has not felt remarkably inspired and well after
exercising the body and it is releasing 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
The idea of wedding mind and body approaches to healing is not a new
one. For centuries, 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
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 fosters neuroplasticity to help “rewrite” 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 wellbeing
- 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 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: