An epidemic of death by overdose of synthetic prescription painkillers and street heroin has stricken America over the past few years. Why? Not everyone who takes a painkilling drug becomes an addict. However, for most of those who are becoming addicted, withdrawal from these drugs, though relatively brief, is intolerable both physically and emotionally. The attempt to solve this problem by legalizing opiate drugs like methadone and suboxone has created an entirely new population of addicts. Suboxone prescribing has now eclipsed methadone as an opiate replacement and become a huge business for private practice MDs in the US.
Suboxone combines the potent narcotic buprenorphine with an opiate antagonist called naltrexone. This combination is so addictive it can almost never be completely withdrawn from by conventional detox methods. It seems to be even more addictive than methadone and detoxing from methadone is notoriously difficult.
In the 1990s, buprenorphine alone was successfully used for one week only for opiate addicts in residential treatment and provided the most successful detox anyone had ever seen. Now, though, it is often prescribed for life in the form of Suboxone. Kenneth Blum, PhD, the eminent neuroscientist who did the original research on amino acids for treating addiction, is one of the many expert voices raised in concern about this phenomenon (1).
Another is Alliance cofounder Charles Gant, MD, PhD, who stated in a Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post “The prescribing of new and expensive, equally addictive drugs to treat opioid addiction is tantamount to attempting to extinguish a kerosene fire with gasoline.” In contrast, wrote Gant, “Effective opioid treatment must apply proven and inexpensive – and therefore unprofitable - amino acid therapies which provide a far safer and more effective, sustainable, recovery for opioid-dependent individuals. These amino acid precursors which naturally restore the opioid neurotransmitters can be purchased in any health-food store, or delivered intravenously a now-routine office procedure.”
(1) J Addict Res Ther. 2014;5. pii: 1000185.
Buprenorphine Response as a Function of Neurogenetic Polymorphic Antecedents: Can Dopamine Genes Affect Clinical Outcomes in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)?
Oral supplementation of amino acids, including high doses of GABA, high dose vitamin C, and other nutrients are very helpful, as the following experts attest:
Christina Veselak, LMFT, CN, past president of the Alliance and expert in both addiction counseling and nutrition, is the founder of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition where she trains health professionals and addiction treatment specialists to use nutritional recovery methods. She tells the following story of a long-time opiate addict who came to her private practice after two years on Suboxone, which he had unsuccessfully tried to stop using on his own many times:
“He detoxed with minimal discomfort on an oral nutrient protocol that combined D-phenylalanine (DPA) and other amino acids with high dose vitamin C, good vitamin-mineral support, and a supplement that kept his cortisol (stress hormone) levels from rising and interfering with sleep and mood. He was amazed that he got through the “impossible” detox so easily. He’s continued to feel steadily better and craving-free.” Christina cautions that those on Suboxone for more than two years are more difficult to help with oral supplementation.
Note: It is important to recognize that many opiate addicts are drawn to the drug for its stimulating properties. They are energized by it. For them, the amino acid tyrosine that converts to the stimulating neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline, can be an important addition for successful treatment, once the early detox phase is over. This underscores how important it is to always evaluate each individual carefully, using a neurotransmitter deficiency symptom questionnaire to find out why addicts choose particular drugs and what effects these drugs have on them.
Paul Anderson, MD, an Alliance supporter and specialist in integrative approaches to pain management in Canada and the US, combines oral amino acids with a small CES (cranial electrical stimulation) unit that targets both the endorphin-producing areas of the brain and the serotonin-producing areas of the brain, as needed. He reports that his extensive work with opiate-dependent patients in recovery from injuries has been consistently successful. Dr. Anderson cautions that any new or continuing conditions causing physical pain must be addressed in recovery. Other Alliance members have also found this to be true. For example, severe premenstrual syndrome pain can cause female opiate addicts to relapse. The same is true for new or continuing emotional pain.
Matt Finch, an Alliance member, and a former opiate addict is now an opiate recovery coach. He was able to finally recover from his own addiction using the oral amino acids recommended in the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, MA.
Intravenous infusions of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, can be dramatically helpful in early recovery from opiate addiction. Alliance members learned this initially from the pioneering work of Alfred F. Libby, MD and Irwin Stone, MD in California who, in the 1970s, conducted extensive published studies using nutrient IVs with opiate addicts. Libby’s and Stone’s testing and research found opiate addicts profoundly depleted in nutrients, particularly in amino acids, from which the brain neurotransmitters are made. The amino acid depletion they documented was so severe that these researchers labeled it Kwashiorkor Syndrome, as most commonly seen by Americans in photos of young children in Africa with dramatically distended bellies from profound protein malnutrition.
IV infusions typically include:
high doses of vitamins C and B complex,
calming amino acids like taurine, GABA, or tryptophan,
D-phenylalanine (DPA) (DPA slows down the natural destruction of endorphins by the enzyme endorphinase, thereby maintaining levels of pain-relieving endorphins,
the mineral magnesium.
In addition, a complete amino acid blend is often included, providing all the amino acids needed to build new endorphins.
Many Alliance members first witnessed this form of treatment by going to Mexico and watching William Hitt, MD, administer it in his famous detox clinic. Dr. Hitt is now deceased, but some others in the US are attempting to duplicate his work. For example, Stan Stokes, a co-founder of the Alliance and founding director of Bridging the Gaps, a residential treatment program in Winchester, VA, reports that after Bridging the Gaps instituted IV therapy the program noticed a tremendous easing of the discomfort of those in recovery from opiate addiction. In fact, he found that many addicts were leaving the program in the second week because they felt so good, denying themselves the benefit of a pro-recovery diet, counseling, neurofeedback, and the other treatment aides that solidified recovery. As a result, the program slowed down their IV treatments so clients wouldn’t leave prematurely.
Joan Collins, ND, RN, BA, CNMP, MH, and Alliance Board member, whose Florida residential treatment program Artesian Wellness and Recovery Center also provides intravenous support and has had a very similar experience as Stan. As she explains, “I hear our former heroin users say, ”I don’t have post-acute withdrawal syndrome! I can’t understand how my skin feels so good!” Yet, if she gives clients too many amino IV treatments within two weeks they are feeling so good they want to leave the program, so she extends the IVs over four weeks. “This gives you the opportunity to provide the psychosocial element so it can work!” says Collins.
At Artesian Wellness, if opiate addicts haven’t been cleared by insurance for IVs for their first two or three days they are at least given mega doses of oral sodium ascorbate, a bioavailable and alkaline form of vitamin C. By taking anywhere from 5,000 mg to 40,000 mg or more every couple hours she finds her clients avoid post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Charles Gant, MD, PhD, End Your Addiction Now, pp. 203-214
Julia Ross, MA, The Mood Cure, pp. 250-286
Restoring the Natural Opioid System with D-Phenylalanine (DPA): A Novel Therapeutic Approach. Julia Ross MA, MFT. Practical Pain Management. Nov/Dec 2009, 9(9):29-31
The Hypoascorbemia-Kwashiorkor Approach to Drug Addiction Therapy: A Pilot Study. Alfred F. Libby and Irwin Stone. Presented at the Western Regional Seminar of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, July 16, 1977, in San Francisco
Ascorbic Acid Effects on Withdrawal Syndrome of Heroin Abusers. Evangelou, A., et al. In Vivo. March 2000,14(2):363-366.
Burden and Nutritional Deficiencies in Opiate Addiction. Nabipour, S., Said, MA., and Habil, MH. Iran J Public Health. 2014 Aug, 43(8): 1022–1032.
The contradictory June 22nd Washington Post article on the fraud lawsuit filed by the Missouri AG against 3 large opioid manufacturing companies and a July 13th opinion article on the $45 billion proposal in the new healthcare law to address the opioid epidemic, exemplifies the insanity of opioid abuse treatment.
The prescribing of new and expensive, equally addictive drugs to treat opioid addiction is tantamount to attempting to extinguish a kerosene fire with gasoline. This cynical attempt of Big Pharma and the addiction-related healthcare industry to capture market share from the illicit opioid trade can’t work. Effective opioid treatment must apply proven and inexpensive – and therefore unprofitable - amino acid therapies which provide a far safer and more effective, sustainable, recovery for opioid-dependent individuals. These amino acid precursors which naturally restore the opioid neurotransmitters can be purchased in any health-food store or delivered intravenously, a now-routine office procedure.
Historically, when rational treatments address the true causes of chronic disease, the incidence of those diseases has plummeted. Do you know anyone suffering from polio or malaria? Despite pumping billions into curbing the opioid epidemic, associated mortality and morbidity statistics continuously escalate. The cause of the first-ever, decreasing life expectancy rates in the US has in part been ascribed to the opioid epidemic. Einstein reputedly said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Treatment based on this flawed paradigm can never work, and therefore pumping billions into opioid treatment is simply insane.
Charles Gant MD PhD
International Precision Medicine Associates
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National Integrated Health Associates
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International Academy of Precision Medicine
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