Click photo to enlarge

Do you know someone with an opioid addiction? Chances are you do. A recent report found that nearly four in 10 (39 percent) residents in the commonwealth know someone who has misused prescription painkillers in the past five years. When prescription opioids become unavailable, some turn to heroin.

Addiction has torn apart far too many of our families and has killed far too many of our loved ones. The numbers are staggering, but there is more than one solution for people with are suffering with chronic pains and injuries.

Chiropractic provides care to treat pain, injuries, and spinal alignment problems previously managed with narcotics or opiates. Whether an individual has become addicted to prescribed pain medications or has begun self-medicating outside of a doctor's care, they may require alternative pain relief options during rehabilitation. Chiropractic treatment can be invaluable in these situations.

According to the NAADAC, Association for Addiction Professionals, "research has shown that the stimulus of the chiropractic thrust results in an immediate increased production of well-being neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine etc) from the limbic tissue in the brain and the dorsal horns of the spinal cord. Lowered levels of well-being neurotransmitters manifests as anxiety and depression.

"Research has shown that normal levels of well-being neurotransmitters are achieved with this therapy within three to four weeks, versus six to 12 months. In addition, chiropractors address and correct the underlying causes of pain which have often contributed to the substance abuse."

How does chiropractic treatment work?


Providing a natural, non-medicated solution to pain, a licensed chiropractic professional adjust spinal subluxations (misalignments) that interfere with nervous system performance. In addition to eliminating some or all of a patient's pain and reducing the desire to self-medicate for chronic pain conditions, chiropractic care may provide other holistic benefits:

• Release of endorphins (natural pain killers)

• Reduction in physical drug & alcohol cravings

• Restored joint mobility

• Stimulation of the immune system

• Improved sense of well-being

In addition to its growing popularity, chiropractic research has continued to grow, helping to understand more about treatment, the mind-body connection and helping to not just manage pain but also resolve it.

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. "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."

Tommy's story

Tommy was referred to chiropractic care after suffering a motor vehicle accident some 15 years previously. As with most patients who have suffered chronic pains as a result of an injury, the majority of his treatment was provided with prescription narcotics. After years of drug therapy, Tommy's primary care referred him for alternative choice of health care to attempt to aid in further reduction on his pain.

After four weeks of chiropractic care, Tommy showed significant pain reduction and was even able to reduce his prescription pain killers. After additional six weeks of care and rehab, Tommy's improvement continued, resulting in complete elimination of drug therapy for his pain.

Additionally, Tommy was able to add other activities back into his life such as long walks, exercise and better sleep — all of which he was unable to have due to his chronic pain. Tommy is just one the many that chiropractic has helped to not just reduce pain, but also recover a quality of life.

Self-medicating alternative

At New Life Chiropractic, we partner with many patients who have developed a substance addiction due to chronic or disabling pain. Spinal manipulation and chiropractic treatment are considered safe, effective ways to treat many forms of back pain, neck pain, headaches and migraines, whiplash and accident injuries, and joint dysfunction. Rather than turning to pain relievers or alcohol for relief, break the cycle with holistic therapies.

Many men and women who try chiropractic care for addiction treatment achieve relief after just a few sessions, and there are no dangerous side effects to this pain management approach. And in today's time, chiropractic care is more accessible and affordable then it was 20 years ago. Most chiropractors in Berkshire County are in network with several insurance companies; therefore, addressing pain and chronic issues without financially burdening a patient.

t's time to stop addiction and focus on long term healing. To learn more about the benefits of chiropractic treatment for chronic pain and alternative to self-medicating, feel free to contact New Life Chiropractic.

Britney Danials is a board-certified chiropractic assistant to Dr. Kurt Schagen, owner and physician of New Life Chiropractic, a Healthy Pittsfield Partner.

This column appears in the Lifestyles section the second Sunday of each month.

The Healthy Pittsfield Partnership is coordinated by the Pittsfield Health Department and Board of Health. The partnership is committed to community based initiatives that will improve the health and quality of life of Pittsfield's residents and workforce.