Heroin addiction has been a major issue in society for decades. The problem is so pervasive that it crosses all demographics, races, and economic backgrounds. When left unchallenged, Heroin and opioid addiction will escalate until it completely destroys your health, finances, and personal relationships. Thankfully, substance abuse treatment has come a long way over the years. With new therapeutic techniques and treatment modalities, there are more ways to fight addiction and drug abuse. In addition to practices and techniques, there is a newly discovered factor that may aid in drug abuse treatment: Vitamin D levels.
Is There a Link Between Vitamin D Levels and Opioid Addiction?
A current study from MGH’s Cutaneous Biology Research Center found that vitamin D deficiency exacerbates the cravings and the effects of opioids. In this study, researchers hypothesized that a lack of Vitamin D could contribute to an added sensitivity to opioid receptors. Results of the study showed this not only to be confirmed, but it also found that Vitamin D deficiency also contributed to euphoria-seeking behaviors and more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Further study in human health records also confirmed this point. Results found that Individuals with a moderate Vitamin D deficiency were 50% more likely to use opioids than those with normal levels. Furthermore, severe Vitamin D deficiency actually displayed a 90% increase.
Can Vitamin D Cure Heroin Addiction?
While the results of studies illuminate a hopeful point regarding vitamin D status, it would not be correct to assume Vitamin D as a “cure” to chemical dependency. Opioid use disorder is a deeply ingrained process in the brain’s limbic system. It takes time and abstinence for the brain to reroute into healthier brain patterns.
However, it does provide insight as to the importance of proper nutrition role in a life in recovery. For people coming out of medically-assisted treatment for opioid addiction (particularly Methadone), balanced Vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial, as many people have reported having a lower Vitamin D status after these procedures. Before you look into taking supplements before or after a medically-assisted process, bear in mind that you should consult medical advice from your provider.
Can Vitamin D Help with Relapse Prevention?
Results from this study would indicate that maintaining proper vitamin D status could play a beneficial role. Since Vitamin D deficiency can play into addictive patterns, a more balanced Vitamin D status could theoretically help reduce the sensitivity to addictive thinking or relapse triggers.
However, Vitamin D should not be viewed as a sole safeguard against the prospect of relapse. For people to maintain their recovery, it is vital to remain using therapeutic techniques and skills. Otherwise, an imbalanced lifestyle can still present an immense risk for addiction-based thinking and trigger a relapse.
What can I do to help my Vitamin D Status?
Vitamin D supplementation is one of the more apparent solutions. Vitamin D is commonly used to help prevent bone pain and other bone-related issues due to its ability to help the body’s uptake of calcium. Thus, it is a fairly accessible supplement to acquire and is relatively easy to incorporate into a balanced diet. However, it should be noted that an excess of Vitamin D is not healthy for your system. It should not be taken in larger doses than recommended.
Another interesting means of acquiring Vitamin is sunlight. Previous studies from MGH found that UV light helps the body’s production of Vitamin D, as well as the moderation of endorphin levels. However, to avoid other health issues or discomforts, one should not attain more sun exposure than is reasonable.
The human body has an amazing way of regulating its own internal functions. However, when psychoactive substances and drugs of abuse enter the system, the body and brain’s internal equilibrium is thrown out of balance. If you or a loved one are faced with addiction, our team at Shick Shadel Hospital is here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us via our contact form, or call us at 1800-CRAVING.
Overview of the Research Institute. Massachusetts General Hospital. (2021). Data retrieved on June 17, 2021 from https://www.massgeneral.org/research/about/overview-of-the-research-institute.