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Vitamin C has been used successful as a natural way to support people who are undergoing opiate detoxification in order to help with their withdrawal symptoms.  In this case, we are talking about mega-doses of Vitamin C being taken under supervision of a physician.

Vitamin C for recovering heroin addicts

 Opioid pain relievers are derived from the opium poppy. The illicit drug heroin is as well. Opium is highly addictive in all its forms. Opioid pain relief prescribing and usage has increased significantly in the past 2 decades, leading to a substantial increase in the number of people who have become addicted to it. The most successful treatments for recovering from heroin addiction and dealing with withdrawal are now being used to help opioid addicts as well.

The research

 A study conducted in 2000 assessed 3 groups of men:

  • 30 in-patients given traditional therapy plus Vitamin C
  • 10 out-patients given traditional therapy plus Vitamin C
  • 30 in-patients given traditional therapy alone (the control group)

The results showed that 48 to 50% of the patients receiving Vitamin C reported significantly milder withdrawal symptoms than Group C, with only 6% reporting mild symptoms.  Only 10 to 16% of the Vitamin C groups reported severe withdrawal symptoms, as compared with 56.6% in the non-Vitamin C group.

Vitamin C for pain relief?

A study published in April 2017 has offered additional interesting data with reference to Vitamin C and the relief of pain. The study was based on the fact that Vitamin C deficiency, known as scurvy, results in severe musculoskeletal pain. A lack of Vitamin C was also recently associated with spinal pain.  Researchers found that many people were Vitamin C deficient. Their study subjects, even those with cancer pain, attained pain relief through high doses of Vitamin C being administered. Surgical and cancer patients required less opioid medication after being treated with Vitamin C.

A summary of the studies

 Vitamin C appears to offer safe, natural pain relief even in groups suffering from severe pain. In the case of opioid addicts, the Vitamin C appears to relieve pain in and of itself, but is also converted by the body into something similar to the peptides found in opioids. They are therefore less likely to have severe withdrawal symptoms, or crave opioids. This means a better chance of them sticking with their detox and recovery program, rather than giving up because the withdrawal symptoms are so severe.  Vitamin C has also been associated with better bone and connective tissue health, such as in relation to collagen production.  If the general population is lacking in Vitamin C, addicts will usually be even more deficient because their addiction will usually result in poorer self-care (not eating, not eating fruits and vegetables, and so on). Boosting their Vitamin C levels can thus boost overall health and relieve withdrawal symptoms. And since many addicts started taking opioids in the first place due to acute or chronic pain, Vitamin C can continue to help relieve their pain even though they are no longer taking opioids.

author avatar
Bill DiStasio
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