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Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Successfully Treats Opioid Addiction?

Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Successfully Treats Opioid Addiction?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps people with opioid addiction cope with withdrawal symptoms. With the help of regular treatments, the patient can manage pain, surpass withdrawal symptoms and decrease methadone dose.

In this article, we will explore the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on opioid addiction.

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treats Opioid Addiction?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a non-invasive, non-harmful treatment offering pure oxygen at high pressure. Normally, we inhale 21% oxygen from the air, which is carried via red blood cells throughout the body to cells and tissues.

However, during the HBOT therapy, pure oxygen is received at high pressure. As an impact of high pressure, our bodily liquids, such as cerebral spinal fluids, lipids, and plasma, start carrying oxygen throughout the body. Hence, hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves oxygen concentration in the blood, which stimulates healing processes. For example, oxidative stress, inflammation, and other issues reduce.

When our body suffers an injury, oxygen is able to stimulate healing processes. It allows stem cell regeneration and improves the healing of cells and tissues. However, at the injury site, often there’s oxygen deprivation, which is why healing is slow. HBOT therapy improves oxygen concentration and accelerates healing at diseased and injured sites of the body.

In the case of opioid addiction, the body experiences extreme pain and withdrawal symptoms. When supported with HBOT therapy, good oxygen circulation at the diseased site can reduce pain and allow the patient to reduce intake of methadone.

Research Related to Opioid Addiction and HBOT Therapy

According to an article published in the Journal of Addictions Nursing, 31 patients were involved, all of whom had an opioid addiction. During the therapy, these 31 patients were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy along with a reduction in methadone dose.

With the help of HBOT therapy, these patients could handle a larger reduction in dose of up to 4.3 mg after only three months of the therapy initiation. This is significantly large as compared to 0.25 mg in patients who didn’t get HBOT therapy.

Further, in the HBOT group, the symptoms experienced at the time of withdrawal were half the level of symptoms experienced by the group that didn’t receive the therapy.

To reduce opioid addiction in patients, they are offered methadone, which helps them retain a normal life. However, methadone is a form of opioid that these patients consume every day. In fact, a range of patients wish to eliminate methadone, but they have failed terribly because of the withdrawal symptoms. However, with the above study, scientists believe that HBOT can be a non-pharmacological treatment that may help these patients eliminate the use of methadone.

In another trial reviewed in Pain Management Nursing, only eight patients with opioid addiction were involved in the study. The study was aimed at finding the pain of withdrawal symptoms in opioid addiction. The patients of the treatment group were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and they experienced lower pain and cravings for drugs when compared to the control group that was not offered HBOT therapy. Based on the outcome of this study, researchers explained that HBOT therapy also helped improve the mood and sleep quality of the treatment group.

Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is approved by the FDA for 14 diseases, including decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, chronic wound healing, and several others. However, it is not yet approved for opioid addiction, but the efforts for the same are being carried out.

This makes HBOT treatment for opioid addiction off-label treatment, which means your insurance may not cover the treatment.

In many cases, most patients experience a challenge reducing methadone, and at the start of the treatment, it is hard to find the right dose to stabilize symptoms. This causes severe withdrawal symptoms, encouraging many to leave the treatment. However, with the findings in the above studies, HBOT can be used to treat pain in patients with opioid addiction.

Scientists explained that the idea for the above two studies was derived from a study held for a mice model. HBOT therapy was used to eliminate signs of opioid addiction and reduce pain in mice.

It does not indicate that the treatment is invasive or harmful. HBOT is a non-invasive treatment with zero to minimal side effects. You may experience a little ear pressure, but your body may start feeling better. It reduces pain and allows your body to handle withdrawal symptoms.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a non-invasive treatment that helps in multiple on-label and off-label treatments. Originally it was used for decompression sickness, but later scientists found various other applications for the therapy. One of these applications has recently surfaced for withdrawal symptoms in opioid addiction.

A large number of people are addicted to opioid drugs, which may or may not start with prescribed treatment. However, once the addiction starts, it is hard to eliminate the use of the drug completely. Patients either need to take methadone daily or experience withdrawal symptoms, such as severe pain in the body.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment that can help reduce the dose of methadone and pain during withdrawal. However, it is suggested to consult your doctor for the correct treatment plan.


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