Recent research reported in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research on several people struggling with addiction reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in managing these patients.  The literature review included supports the role of chiropractic in those suffering from addiction and related health challenges and calls for more research in this area.

“Numerous case studies and some clinical studies are revealing that there is a relationship between abnormalities in the spine, the nervous system and the brain” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. McCoy added “Basic science research shows that the proper development and function of the brain relies on proper structure and movement of the spine from an early age.”

Research has shown not only that the brain relies on normal structural integrity and joint movement, but that complex neurochemical communication and pathways involved in helping humans to “feel good” are tied into spinal biomechanics and their related neurological pathways.

“It makes perfect sense once you understand the neurological connections between the spine, the brain and how we feel good” added Dr. McCoy. “The seat of human emotion is the Limbic System and we know that this system extends all the way down the spinal cord. By removing obstructions in the spine, things like addiction and a sense of well being are affected.”

Even beyond addiction, researchers believe that the increase in the diagnosis of such disorders as ADHD, pervasive developmental disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders, have their root in a “perfect storm” of abnormal spinal development coupled with cultural changes.

For decades addiction treatment programs have strived to find an answer for continued drug relapse in patients suffering from a multitude of addictions.  There has been a major effort in recent years to determine the cellular and molecular changes that occur during the transition from initial drug use to compulsive intake.   We now know many naturally occurring brain and spinal cord substances play a role in both emotions and pain reduction, leading to an increased sense of wellbeing.

According to researchers the nervous system controls and coordinates all functions of the body and structural shifts in the spine can occur that obstruct the nerves and interfere with their function. By removing the structural shifts, chiropractic improves nerve supply and function.

This study assessed the outcomes of subjects in a residential addiction facility using P300 wave analysis (brain waves) following chiropractic care.  There was an active treatment group and a placebo group.  All subjects had a history or drug or alcohol abuse.

The active treatment group received chiropractic adjustments and the placebo group received a sham adjustment. Both groups completed depression and anxiety questionnaires at the beginning of the study and then every 30 days thereafter for the duration of the study. The brain wave analysis was performed weekly for both groups for the duration of the study to assess cognitive function in decision making.  The study lasted 90 days.

The group that received chiropractic adjustments showed improvement in depression and anxiety.  Brain wave analysis outcomes improved for this group as well.

The authors called for additional research to investigate the clinical implications of chiropractic in this population.

To learn more about this study, chiropractic research, and behavioral health visit Vertebral Subluxation Research.