New Research Sheds Light on Chiropractic and Addiction

Staff Writer
New Research Sheds Light on Chiropractic and Addiction

Recent research reporting on improvement in a 63 year old man undergoing chiropractic care reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in managing people with addiction and related disorders.

The research, reported in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, includes a discussion of the literature supporting the role of chiropractic in addiction and what is known as the Brain Reward Cascade.

“Research is revealing that there is a relationship between abnormalities in the spine, the nervous system and brain” stated Dr. Jay Holder, lead author of the paper. “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 developing 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 stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. “The seat of human emotion is the Limbic System and we know that this system extends all the way down the spinal cord. By normalizing interference there, 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 McCoy “Abnormal position or movement of the spinal vertebra can develop and this can lead to nerve interference which distorts the communication in the spinal cord and brain. It is this interference, called vertebral subluxation, that chiropractors correct.”

The man reported on in the study was a 63 year old free base and crack cocaine addict who was court mandated to the Exodus Addiction Treatment Center in Miami for residential addiction treatment following a conviction for cocaine possession along with a record of multiple felony arrests over a 40 year period. He failed to retain recovery or successfully complete eleven previous medical model/disease concept residential addiction treatment programs for his addiction.

A type of chiropractic technique called Torque Release was performed following a type of brain wave testing that is being used in the management of compulsive disorders such as addiction. The chiropractic care was combined with residential addiction treatment and after approximately eight months of care the patient experienced improvement in health and vitality, and improved brain wave results. The studies authors call for more research on the effects of chiropractic in the addicted population.