Monday, November 16, 2009

Nutritional approaches reduce withdrawal symptoms, enhance program retention, and improve long term outcomes

Despite the modern prevalence of pharmaceutical approaches to withdrawal, drug therapy has unwanted, adverse effects and is not effective in all types of drug withdrawal. Treatment of cocaine addiction lacks an effective drug treatment.82 There is consistent evidence that withdrawal protocols incorporating a range of nutrients provide safe and beneficial interventions.
Basic multivitamins are often recommended in the recovery phase of treatment programs. There are numerous case reports and pilot studies flanking over half a dozen cohort and controlled studies suggesting that high dose nutrient intervention can affect rehabilitation outcomes such as drug reversion, craving and quality of life measures. Longer term use of nutrient supplements by recovering addicts is likely to also be important. Such use should be encouraged; vitamins are of low cost compared to pharmaceutical agents and the overall costs to society of untreated addiction are great.
There is clear value in routinely incorporating balanced, high dose nutrient strategies in drug treatment. Given the disturbingly high rates of treatment failure, this is a particularly important area to explore to gain information that could lead to cost effective, improved treatment outcomes. Additional studies are warranted to measure the specific effect size of nutrient support on treatment outcomes in a variety of treatment settings compared with those utilizing conventional pharmacologic approaches.
Given the substantial data supporting the use of high dose vitamin therapy as an important component of substance abuse treatment, it seems more harm than good would come from waiting for the methodological absolute confirmation of exact outcomes, and we may have to wait a very long time. This is a very practical and inexpensive method that has broad utility and deserves a prominent place in the substance abuse treatment toolkit.