Hyperbaric Oxygen and Addiction

An increasing number of treatment centers are offering hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) for patients with long-term substance abuse disorders. While it was initially devised as a treatment for decompression illness suffered by divers who resurface too soon, it appears that HBOT can quickly help the body heal, even after years of substance abuse and addiction.

The treatment is especially effective when used in conjunction with drug and alcohol treatment, along with a healthy lifestyle that includes nutrition, exercise and rest.

How it Works

Prolonged use of drugs and alcohol can alter the brain’s chemical makeup and ultimately lead to loss of brain function and cell death. Although the body is incredibly self-healing, it may reach a point that it is unable to counteract the effects without help. HBOT treatments can restore life to dormant cells and awaken dormant cells and generate new, healthy cells.

Treatments are also beneficial during detoxification, helping the body to more efficiently rid itself of toxic substances.

Hyberbaric oxygen treatments may also help repair damaged cells in the liver, pancreas, and other organs affected by years of substance abuse and addiction.

What are Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments?

Patients who undergo hyberbaric oxygen treatments enter a pressurized chamber where they breathe pure oxygen for about an hour. The oxygen is carried to all parts of the body, including the oxygen-starved tissues in the brain.

Treatments are simple, painless and non-invasive, often in single-person, pressurized chambers in which a person lies down for the duration of the treatment. The chamber is constructed of clear acrylic so the person can communicate with the technician, who is present for the duration of the treatment. The atmosphere is conducive to resting, reading, listening to music, or watching a movie.

Treatments may also consist of a larger, multi-person chamber in which several patients can be treated at once. The oxygen is delivered via a face mask.

Many people report improved memory, heightened alertness, increased energy, and an overall increase in health and wellbeing after as few as 10 treatments, although more treatments may be required.

Side Effects

Side effects of HBOT are said to be minimal. Some people may experience discomfort caused by the change in pressure to the ears and sinuses. Patients are advised not to undergo hyperbaric oxygen treatment if they have a cold or congestion of the nose, chest or sinuses.

Other side effects may include a temporary change in vision, but that effect is rare and short-lived. Additionally, HBOT isn’t advised for pregnant women.

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