NEW NUTRITION THERAPY TREATS ADDICTS
An Abbotsford chiropractor is opening the first clinic in Canada to pioneer a new way to treat alcoholics and addicts with nutritional therapy.
Dr. Helen Fadden is starting the privately funded IV clinic this week offering mega-doses of amino acids and nutritional supplements to prevent withdrawal symptoms and relapses.
She told the Abbotsford News that similar clinics operating in the U.S. have helped people to enjoy a 75 per cent success rate in preventing relapses.
The medical community, however, is skeptical.
Frank Fung, director of mental health services for the Fraser Health Authority (East), said physicians, with expertise in addictions, are critical of the notion that nutrition deficits are linked to addiction relapses.
Fung said there is no good verifiable scientific evidence that mega-vitamin therapy is successful in treating addictions.
More troubling, he said, is the bigger issue that the alcoholic or addict may delay getting proper treatment in favour of this program, which may lead to indirect harm.
Fadden, however, disagrees.
Just because it isn't mainstream, doesn't mean it doesn't work, she said.
The chiropractor, who recently earned an addictionologist certificate, explained that substance abuse alters the bio-chemistry in the brain of addicts and alcoholics.
For this reason it is helpful for people with addictions, Fadden said, to undergo treatment to boost the neurotransmitters of the brain, as well as attend counselling, Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous programs.
Fadden said certain amino acids, vitamins and minerals are effective in decreasing the withdrawal symptoms classically experienced by substance abusers when they quit the drug of their choice.
After an alcoholic or addict quits using mind-altering substances, they often suffer chronic abstinence symptoms such as: craving or drug hunger," anxiety, fatigue and depression which often lead to a return to the addiction.
Gloria Wolfson, director of UCFV School of Social Work and Human Services, said the therapy is based on poor science, and may, in fact, be preying on people who don't know any better.
I have to think that if this was credible, it would have been picked up by the scientific and medical community."
Wolfson said she would label this as fringe therapy."
To her, nutritional therapy to treat addiction is simply bad science until proven otherwise through double blind studies that are published in peer review scientific journals.
Dr. James Braly, medical director of Lifestream, U.S.A., said the nutritional IV therapy has a 75 to 80 per cent success rate for the first two years, compared to the abysmal" relapse rate of 80 per cent when clients use traditional addiction treatments.
Fung did not elaborate on the success or failure rates for the addiction services currently offered through the Fraser Health Authority, but was pragmatic.
Recovery is expected, but relapses are allowed," Fung said.
He said addiction counsellors are compassionate and understanding about potential relapses because addiction is like a disease.
Similar to a diabetic who has his or her disease generally under control, a person may experience an occasional flare-up requiring hospitalization, Fung said. Likewise, people shouldn't have unrealistic expectations about overcoming addictions.
Braly, who was recently in Abbotsford, said scientific research verifies the interrelation of neurotransmitters and addiction.
Why settle for failure, when the natural treatment of amino acids works, he asks.
Amino acid supplements boost the body's own neurotransmitters, sharply increasing the success rate in relapse prevention, he said.
Because IV nutritional treatment for addictions is new in Canada, Fadden is planning to apply for a federal research grant, so that the experiences of her clients may be subject to scientific research on the bio-chemical nature of addiction and nutritional treatment.
I would like to see this program go right across Canada," she said.
Fadden said clients require their doctors to refer them to her clinic and must be clean and sober for at least five to seven days prior to entering the program.
A registered nurse at her chiropractic office in Clearbrook will supervise the IV program and pharmacist James Petruic of Pharmasave in Chilliwack will mix the compounds.
Clients undergo IV supplements for about four hours a day for the first six days at a cost of $1,000 a day.
For the next six months, clients take oral nutritional supplements at a cost of about $100 a month and should participate in lifestyle education, AA or NA and counselling.