Chiropractic care is a non-invasive holistic approach to treating injuries and ailments by correcting subluxations, which are slight misalignments of the joints of the body. The treatments typically focus on the spine first then the joints in the extremities. It’s used to treat sports injuries, car accident injuries and repetitive motion injuries as well as herniated disks and degenerative joint disease. The good news is that it can also be combined with traditional addiction treatment in order to create a comprehensive, whole-body approach.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is considered to be a chronic disease. After all, no one starts taking a substance or participating in an activity with the belief that it will become a dependency or a compulsive obsession. In fact, that is the definition of addiction. It is the psychological compulsion to either consume a chemical or perform an activity, and the truth is that people can become addicted to just about anything.

Chemical Addiction

When an individual is addicted to a chemical, it’s called substance abuse, and it’s generally classified as substance use disorder. Individuals can become dependent on all types of chemicals, including heroin, opiates, crack, cocaine, prescription pain medications, nicotine, marijuana, methamphetamines, hallucinogens, inhalants, caffeine and alcohol.

Behavioral Addiction

When an individual is addicted to an activity rather than a chemical, it’s called a behavioral addiction. Individuals can be addicted to gambling, food, social media, digital devices, gaming, sex, self-harm, shopping, working, having a relationship, exercise and body perfection.

Conventional Treatment for Addiction

when entering a conventional treatment program, individuals can expect it to focus on detox, addiction education, therapy and relapse prevention. If an individual is addicted to an opiate or alcohol, medication-assisted treatment may be recommended.


Detoxification involves not taking the drug of choice or not participating in the behavior. For individuals with a chemical addiction, the detox phase can last anywhere from five days to three weeks. There is no set timeline for individuals with a behavioral addiction.

Therapy and Education

Traditional drug treatment programs focus on therapy and education. Therapy can be in the form of individual, group and family therapy as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management or rewards-based therapy, and motivational interviewing. Participating in therapy helps individuals understand why they became addicted, the thought patterns that led to the addiction, and the negative thinking patterns that could lead to future addiction.

Relapse Prevention

Conventional addiction treatment also focuses on relapse prevention. During the relapse prevention part of the program, individuals will learn the three stages of relapse, including the emotional relapse, the mental relapse and the physical relapse. Knowing these stages and identifying them in oneself can prevent individuals from returning to their previously harmful behaviors.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment is used during the detox phase and the early stages of recovery for individuals with an opioid or alcohol dependency. This is where a medication is given to help reduce cravings and prevent some withdrawal symptoms. This helps the individual feel better so that they can move forward and focus on their recovery.

Chiropractic Care for Addiction Treatment: An Overview

Chiropractic care has been around for centuries and even practiced in ancient times. However, it was Daniel David Palmer who brought it to the United States in the late 1800s. It’s believed that he performed the first chiropractic adjustment in 1895, and he opened the first chiropractic school in 1897 in Davenport, IA.

In modern times, chiropractors use many different techniques and therapies to help improve their patients’ health and wellness. These include:

  • Manual Adjustments – The traditional chiropractic adjustment is manual. It involves short, swift thrusts with the chiropractor’s hands, forearms or elbows to the individual’s joints in order to push them back into proper alignment.
  • Instrument Adjustments – These are adjustments that are performed with the help of a hand-held instrument.
  • Therapeutic Exercises – These are targeted exercises and stretches that are designed to strengthen weak parts of the body.
  • Soft Tissue Therapy – These are treatments that help loosen muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia. It can include various types of massage therapy.
  • Kinesio Taping – This treatment is used to provide extra support to injured muscles and joints after they’ve become sprained or strained.

The Connection Between Chiropractic Care and Addiction

Chiropractic care can be used as part of an individual’s addiction treatment program, and it’s especially useful during the initial phases of recovery. This is because abstaining can cause depression, anxiety, mood swings and cravings. If the individual has a chemical addiction, they may also experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, muscle soreness and exhaustion. Receiving chiropractic care during this time can help reduce muscle soreness and physical discomfort as well as the symptoms of anxiety and stress. It may even help control cravings and improve impulse control. When used in conjunction with traditional addiction treatment methods, it can help keep the individual on their treatment program and increase their chances of long-term success.

Chiropractic Techniques Used in Addiction Treatment

Chiropractic care seeks to treat misalignments in the spine and extremity joints. For addiction treatment, most chiropractors tend to focus on misalignments in the spine. These treatments can help reduce inflammation and pain while lowering stress. Some common spinal adjustment techniques include:

  • Gonstead Technique – This method uses very precise adjustments in order to correct specific misalignments in the spine.
  • Thompson Technique – This method utilizes a drop table that helps reduce the force needed for the adjustments.
  • Activator Method – An Activator is a special handheld device that delivers the adjustments in a pulsating manner. This is sometimes referred to as the torque release technique.
  • Myofascial Release – This is a soft tissue therapy that can be used to break apart scar tissue and loosen the fascia in the body.

Scientific Evidence and Research

Scientific studies on chiropractic care for addiction are limited and further studies are needed in order to determine its effectiveness and safety. Among chiropractors who have used chiropractic techniques for addiction, most believe that they need more training, according to a survey published on PubMed. To date, there are no standard training protocols for chiropractors when it comes to treating addiction.
In addition to the survey, there is a case study on a 63-year-old male who relapsed 11 times. In this case study, the male was mandated into a treatment program that included chiropractic adjustments. After eight months of treatment, the individual improved. At the end of the case study, the male had been sober for more than two years and was living in a 3/4 sober living home.

Integrating Chiropractic Care with Traditional Addiction Treatments

Integrated treatment approaches for addiction can be beneficial for individuals who wish to stop taking a substance or participating in a behavior that’s proving to be harmful to them. An integrated treatment approach is one that utilizes traditional addiction treatment methods with chiropractic care. This approach may be especially helpful for individuals who have tried other treatment programs and relapsed.

Challenges and Considerations

When seeking out a chiropractor for addiction treatment, it’s important to find a chiropractic doctor who’s been educated on addiction and understands addiction treatment. Due to the lack of standardized training, this may be difficult. In addition, individuals may also find it hard to locate an addiction treatment center that offers chiropractic care. Therefore, it’s important to ask if the center offers holistic treatments alongside conventional therapy options. It’s also recommended not to try chiropractic care by itself for drug treatment. Instead, it’s important to choose a program that offers chiropractic care alongside traditional addiction treatment modalities in order to improve the odds of success.

If you’re looking for a treatment program that includes conventional treatments alongside chiropractic care, we have it at Allure Detox in West Palm Beach. Our treatment options include conventional options as well as chiropractic care.

To learn more about our addiction treatment programs, give us a call today!


Published on: 2020-04-20
Updated on: 2024-05-10

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