NAD Therapy For Alcohol Addiction
Author: Carmen McCrackin
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NAD Treatment And Alcohol Use Disorder
Using NAD therapy to treat addiction dates back to the late 1960s when Dr. Paul O’ Hollaren claimed to have successfully utilized NAD therapy to prevent and treat over 104 cases of alcohol addiction and substance abuse in 1961. NAD therapy aims to lessen withdrawal symptoms and cravings for drugs and alcohol, easing individuals into the recovery process and decreasing the likelihood of relapse. In recent years, multiple drug and alcohol treatment centers began offering this intravenous service, but it has been met with mixed patient reviews of efficacy. Individuals with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) can use NAD therapy with other conventional treatment options for a well-rounded treatment approach.
What Is NAD Therapy?
NAD, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is a key coenzyme found in almost all living cells in the body, and it’s involved in several cellular processes like energy metabolism and mitochondrial health. As a person misuses or abuses alcohol, the amount of NAD enzymes naturally found in the body depletes. This depletion of enzymes makes it harder for the body to turn food into cellular energy leading to overall fatigue, poor immune response, and lack of energy. In addition to substance abuse, other causes of NAD depletion in the body include aging, Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression.
NAD therapy stimulates cell regeneration by delivering an infusion of amino acids, NAD enzymes, and other nutritional supplements directly into the bloodstream through an IV for quick absorption. Once the infusion is absorbed, NAD molecules bond with proteins in your body to create active enzymes used to revitalize cells and metabolize fuel. These coenzymes then combine with additional elements to become niacin vitamin B3, the vitamin responsible for restoring cells from the inside out. In order to maintain this increased level of NAD, an individual will need multiple sessions over the course of several weeks.
Some treatment centers report reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms in as little as 6-10 days, but the length of time needed for treatment will depend on the individual and the severity of their AUD. Treatment sessions can last from 1 to 4 hours and can occur daily anywhere from 4 to 14 days.
Benefits Of NAD Therapy For Alcohol Addiction
NAD therapy aims to improve the body and brain on a cellular level (thus increasing energy and brain function) and target the parts of the brain responsible for alcohol cravings. Continued alcohol abuse gradually decreases the brain cell’s natural ability to send or receive signals, so NAD therapy works to mimic, stimulate, or suppress the action of neurotransmitters. NAD therapy allows the brain and body to heal internally and on a molecular level which can lead to benefits like:
When an individual with an alcohol addiction begins NAD therapy, the coenzyme will flush any remaining toxins in the body out of the system quickly. This removal of damaging toxins can help shorten the extent and amount of time withdrawal symptoms are experienced.
One of NAD therapy’s most significant claims includes reducing cravings for alcohol and other substances. NAD counteracts cravings by binding to Opioid receptors, which are part of the endogenous Opioid system: the body’s internal system for regulating pain, reward, and addictive behaviors. Alcohol stimulates that “feel-good” sensation in the brain, so blocking this receptor creates less craving for this feeling.
Lessened Withdrawal Symptoms
The pain or discomfort felt during withdrawal from alcohol can range widely, but NAD therapy can help reduce withdrawal symptoms by repairing cellular damage in the body. Shortening withdrawal symptoms also lessens the likelihood that an individual will relapse to avoid adverse symptoms.
Increased Energy Levels
Since the depletion of NAD makes it harder for the body to produce energy, adding the NAD coenzyme back into the body boosts its ability to generate cellular energy. Since the body can create this energy naturally, an individual won’t experience any of the “crashes” or “jitters” associated with caffeine or other substances.
An Aid Not A Solution
While potential results from NAD therapy can sound promising and convincing, it is important to note that it’s best to implement this form of therapy as an additional service versus a stand-alone treatment. Worrisome marketing tactics implemented by some treatment centers for NAD therapy include claims that this treatment alone will “entirely wipe away cravings” within days or that relapse rates are as low as 7%. It is crucial to take such claims with a grain of salt as everyone will have a different experience with NAD therapy. These claims are not yet backed with long-term scientific trials, and they may conflict with state and federal regulations against deceptive marketing of medical treatments.
While the research behind NAD therapy for alcohol addiction is still developing, there has been some promising data supporting this “holistic” therapy. While not yet FDA approved, 2019 data from a clinic in Springfield, Los Angeles, found that NAD therapy significantly reduced acute withdrawal symptoms like cravings, anxiety, stress, and depression. This clinic additionally developed a protocol using IV administration of NAD for patients with acute withdrawal symptoms. As NAD therapy is a relatively new treatment approach for addiction, research on its long-term effectiveness continues.
Recovery can often feel like an uphill battle, but with the help of NAD therapy, withdrawal symptoms and cravings can become a smaller obstacle to face. If you or a loved one are interested in trying NAD therapy, do so with a facility that will offer additional treatment options like counseling or support groups in addition to this service. Long-term recovery from an alcohol addiction requires a multifaceted approach to treatment, and it is unlikely that one service will provide the end-all-be-all solution or cure. For more information on NAD therapy or other treatment options, contact a treatment provider today.
Author: Carmen McCrackin | Last Updated: May 31, 2022
Medical Reviewer: David Hampton