top of page

The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in Management of Opioid Addiction

In the late 20th and early 21st century, there has been a surge in the number of individuals abusing opioids. The number has more than doubled compared to the prior years. Numerous fatalities have been recorded as a result of opioid withdrawal. Mismanagement of the withdrawal leaves numerous people with a substance use disorder preferring to continue with substance abuse. Some of the symptoms of opioid withdrawal include poor sleep quality, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and inconsistent moods. Stress, irritability, withdrawal from various social settings, and anxiety are pretty common as well. Multiple forms of treatment are explored to handle opioid addiction, including medication-aided treatment (MAT), behavioral therapies, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). HBOT is preferred for its efficiency compared to other forms of tackling opioid addiction. It is non-invasive and has minimal to no side effects. Pharmacological tools and medication such as methadone involve using reduced doses of opioids, which could lead to relapse. Drug cravings are common when using reduced amounts of a drug to handle withdrawal. 

Mechanism of Action

HBOT reversal the binding effects that opioids have; it leads to detachment between the addictive substance in the natural and synthetic substances and the opioid receptors in the body. By contributing to balance in the neurotransmitter systems in the brain, hormone release is kept at bay. Those involved in reward and addiction pathways are the biggest victims of opioid abuse. Such hormones are balanced for optimal recovery from addiction and withdrawal. Also, one is able to maintain stable psychological and emotional states due to the balance achieved; stress and anxiety are kept at minimal levels. An increased supply of oxygen to the cerebral tissues enables the brain to function optimally. One is able to take on cognitive functions with ease, concentrate, sleep better, and keep a constant mood. 

Also, HBOT eliminates the inflammation associated with chronic use of opioids. The inflammation affects regular cell functioning, leading to a slowdown in various metabolic processes. HBOT also has a healing effect on tissues affected during intake of opioids; numerous tissues and organs, especially when opioids are injected into the body. Overall, HBOT improves the quality of life led by those recovering from opioid addiction. Compared to medication-aided treatment, it reduces the time one takes to recover from addiction; some of the drugs used in treatment are addictive. Also, with fast recovery, recovering people with an addiction are able to resume their regular schedules relatively quickly. 


Wilson, M., Bindler, R. J., Stanek, K., Layton, M. E., & Quock, R. M. (2022). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for pain, opioid withdrawal, and related symptoms: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Pain Management Nursing, 23(5), 616–624.  

Wilson, M., Odom-Maryon, T., Stanek, K., Roush, T., Muriungi, J., Jesse, A., Quock, R. M., & Layton, M. (2022). Hyperbaric oxygen to assist adults with opioid use disorder in reducing methadone dose. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 33(1), 27–36.





bottom of page