Struggling with an addiction of any kind is a difficult and oftentimes daunting task. While there are many conventional treatment options for people addicted to alcohol, drugs and tobacco, they do not always help and relapse rates can be very high. Incorporating these natural addiction remedies into your relapse prevention plan can be an effective way to give yourself the support you need.
Regulate your circadian rhythms using melatonin
In people with alcohol dependence, melatonin can be higher during the day than at night during episodes of drinking, which is opposite of that in a healthy adult. Drug abusers also often have significantly lower levels of melatonin, which is reversed over long-term withdrawal from the drug. When trying to withdraw from opiate use, addicts often have disruptions in their circadian rhythm hormones, particular melatonin. Sleep complaints are common with addiction, and can often result in relapse. It is important to make sure you are getting the sleep you need.Taking melatonin can help regulate circadian rhythms, which can ease withdrawal and improve sleep. Take 0.3 to 5 mg melatonin for sleep disorders like insomnia.
Practice mindfulness techniques or yoga
Neuroscience-based research shows that meditation, whether through a yoga practice or mindfulness meditation practice, can target and help regulate brain regions that relate to addictive behaviors. These kinds of techniques can address the physical and psychological factors that contribute to addiction, including physical withdrawal symptoms, stress, cravings, motivational factors, and others.
There is extensive scientific evidence showing that yoga and mindfulness can help with recovery from substance abuse by affecting psychological, biological, and behavioral factors related to addiction and relapse. One study showed that a combination of meditation, mindfulness and yoga practices for 8 weeks significantly lowered rates of substance use in adults with substance use disorders. Another study found that 8 sessions of mindfulness training over 4 weeks reduced cigarette use in a group of 88 smokers.
Try acupuncture as a complimentary treatment
A study at Yale Medical School found that auricular (in the ear) acupuncture in patients addicted to cocaine resulted in significantly less cocaine use over the course of the study compared to a sham acupuncture control and a control using relaxation techniques. Another study on male military veterans with substance abuse found that auricular acupuncture reduced craving and anxiety levels.
Treat a possible thiamine deficiency
Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is especially important for neurological and cardiovascular health. The body cannot make thiamine, so we must ingest it to get sufficient quantities.
Thiamine deficiency is a common side effect of alcoholism because alcohol prevents the absorption and proper use of thiamine in the body. The cells of the heart and nervous system are especially sensitive to thiamine deficiency, which is why a deficiency in this vitamin can cause serious complications and can even progress to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which has acute symptoms like mental confusion, paralysis of nerves, and long-term behavioral abnormalities and memory impairments.
Supplementation with thiamine is commonly used to prevent these types of neurological complications for people dealing with alcohol dependence, and it can reverse symptoms if they are already present. The recommended daily intake of thiamine is 1.1 mg for women and 1.2 mg for men, while most people generally consume 0.4 to 2.0 mg daily.
You can increase your intake of thiamine by eating foods rich in this vitamin, including meat, poultry, whole grains, nuts, dried beans, peas, and soybeans. Talk with your doctor to determine if you are thiamine deficient; the recommended dose of thiamine for mild deficiencies is 5 to 30 mg daily, and can be up to 300 mg for a severe deficiency.
Share your experience
Do you have any experience with these treatments or supplements for addiction? What is part of your relapse prevention plan, and what natural therapies have you tried to support your mind and body? Share your story in the comments section below.
 Melatonin. Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2014.
Originally published in 2014.