There have been a lot of new techniques developed for use at inpatient drug treatment centers and some have proven more successful than others. There are as many treatments for substance use as there are causes, but one noteworthy example is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, HBOT. What is HBOT and how does it relate to substance use?
Causes of substance use
Experts have debated about the causes of substance use for decades, but one recurring idea has been that substance users, at least many of them, have experienced brain damage at some point. The premise further states that the brain damage not only causes a predisposition to substance use but also hinders recovery.
It is not only about the problems substance users have faced prior to their addiction, but how addiction can exacerbate the problem. Many drugs have been found to do serious damage to the brain and it stands to reason that these same drugs can worsen current issues or even cause new brain damage.
This explains how substance users may be at a disadvantage when trying to break their addiction, but where does HBOT come in?
What is HBOT?
HBOT has been successfully used as a treatment for brain injuries for more than three centuries. At sea level, a person’s brain is only receiving 21% of available oxygen. HBOT, however, places the patient in a hyperbaric chamber where the brain receives 100% oxygen.
The oxygen allows the brain to fully and naturally heal itself. Oxygen has been a major factor in healing injuries in the past and the HBOT chamber allows blood vessels to carry more than twenty times the normal amount of oxygen. As the damaged brain receives this new supply of oxygen, it is able to heal itself without invasive medical procedures.
HBOT and drug rehabilitation
The findings about HBOT regarding other illnesses has made it a popular choice for drug treatment centers. Due to the fact that substance users often face brain damage, either from previous incidents or their current use, HBOT is a simple way to allow the brain to heal itself.
While traditional drug treatments have often involved the use of other addictive drugs, HBOT poses no such dangers. The solution is oxygen, so there is nothing for the patient to become addicted to. This makes it far safer than other inpatient drug rehab treatments.
Does HBOT work?
Oxygen therapy sounds fine in theory, but does it actually help people recover from their addictions? In non-user patients, it was found that HBOT significantly reduced the rate of decline in mental disorders, which is an excellent sign for its effectiveness for recovering substance users.
One significant study was performed on 340 patients with histories of severe alcohol, drug or narcotics use. From this sample, 223 suffered from alcoholism, 68 were substance users and 49 were narcotic users. Of the 340 patients receiving HBOT, all of them saw significant results following treatment.
What were these results? Brain scans revealed that areas of the brain that had been previously damaged were either entirely or partially healed, which made it easier for patients to fight their substance use. Given the outcome of this study, it is safe to say that HBOT was a significant factor in the recovery of these patients.
What you need to know
HBOT is a treatment that restores oxygen to damaged parts of the brain and facilitates recovery from substance use. As this treatment grows, expect to see it at more drug treatment centers in the future. This new treatment could change the way that substance use and recovery are treated.