Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

NAD Therapy for Addiction

The FDA doesn’t approve NAD therapy for addiction treatment. However, some facilities offer it as a kind of dietary with the off-label purpose of treating alcohol and drug addiction.

There are many studies on NAD therapy as a treatment for various conditions, including alcohol and drug addiction. However, it’s too soon to say it’s effective definitively.2,3,5

This article gives an overview of NAD therapy, its treatment process, and whether or not it works for addiction.

What is NAD?

NAD, or NAD+, is short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It’s an essential coenzyme naturally found in the body’s cells and is critical to various metabolic processes.

Various factors can affect the body’s production of this coenzyme, which include:2

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Aging
  • Substance abuse
  • High blood sugar
  • Increased insulin levels

Studies show NAD's importance in promoting cellular regeneration and repair, especially for conditions like addiction withdrawal symptoms, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases.3

A decreased amount of NAD can result in several health conditions, such as:1

  • Metabolic diseases
  • Cancer
  • Aging disorders
  • Neurodegeneration disorders

What is NAD Therapy?

NAD therapy is not an FDA-approved treatment, but many health clinics offer it to increase NAD levels in the body. It’s typically delivered through an intravenous (IV) drip and a mix of vitamins.

According to many health clinics, the mix of vitamins infused into the bloodstream can include:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Glutathione
  • Niacin

An IV treatment bypasses the digestive process, allowing your body to absorb the vitamins more effectively.

Aside from an IV drip, NAD oral supplements are also available. However, it’s difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients this way, making the treatment less effective than an IV supplementation.

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NAD IV Therapy Process

NAD is taken orally or via IV. Most medical professionals consider IV therapy more efficient and effective because it bypasses the digestive system.

NAD Therapy for addiction is usually performed on an inpatient basis. The usual course of NAD treatment involves one infusion daily for at least 10 days. Sometimes, treatment time can last up to 30 days.

Here’s what you can expect while undergoing NAD IV therapy:

  1. A nurse will lead you to sit and relax during treatment.
  2. They will insert an IV into your arm.
  3. Liquid NAD mixture will flow into your body.
  4. When treating SUD, withdrawal symptoms may start to ease within minutes.

The treatment takes 8 hours to complete.

What is NAD Therapy For?

It can help people with chronic fatigue syndrome and various neurodegenerative disorders. Some people use it to slow the aging process, even if they are not addressing any specific health disease or condition.4,5

Clinics advertise NAD therapy as an:

  • Anti-aging treatment
  • Energy-boosting treatment
  • Mood enhancer
  • Addiction treatment

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Does NAD Therapy Treat Addiction?

Most people in addiction recovery have lower-than-optimal levels of vitamins and minerals. An increase in NAD+ levels allows the body to replace nutrients it needs during addiction recovery.

This increase can result in:2,3,4

  • Better cell regeneration
  • Curbed cravings
  • Reduction of withdrawal symptoms
  • Mental clarity
  • Improved brain function
  • Better overall health
  • Reduced risk of relapse

NAD treatment works best when coupled with other addiction treatment methods. These methods include therapy and group counseling sessions.

Some health clinics say NAD treatment can replace medication-assisted therapy for treating withdrawal symptoms. It may be best for someone who wants to avoid the side effects of MAT.

Studies on NAD IV Treatment for Addiction

NAD therapy for addiction began in 1961 when Dr. Paul O’Hollaren successfully used NAD therapy to prevent and treat over 104 cases of substance use disorder (SUD).3 

Among the substances included in his research were:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Cocaine
  • Codeine
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Tranquilizers

Since 1961, there has been more research on NAD therapy’s effectiveness in addiction recovery. Some studies with human clinical trials found that NAD therapy can help people with substance addiction manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.3 However, these results require more research to confirm its effectiveness. 

What Are the Benefits of NAD Therapy?

Despite the limited research on this treatment, people who underwent NAD therapy reported feeling a boost of energy and mental clarity.3,8 Some people report feeling better and having a clearer head within a few days.

Increasing NAD+ levels generally helps someone feel better, regardless of their specific health concerns. This effect occurs because NAD boosts sirtuins.6 Sirtuin is an anti-aging protein; the more they’re present, the slower aging and neurodegeneration occur.

There’s also some evidence that people receiving NAD IV therapy experience less cognitive decline because their cells can better combat stress exposure.1,2,5,8

Other believed benefits of NAD therapy include:

  • Better focus
  • Improved mood
  • Improved brain health
  • Better memory
  • Reduction of fatigue
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Faster metabolism
  • DNA repair
  • Boosted ATP levels
  • Improved cellular energy

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Does NAD IV Therapy Have Side Effects?

The most common side effect people get from intravenous NAD therapy is a mild flu-like feeling that passes quickly. Other side effects also include those common in other IV treatments, which include:7,8

  • Tenderness and/or swelling at the injection site
  • Bruising
  • Minor risk of infection (without proper care)

It’s possible also to feel temporary discomfort and nausea. These symptomatic side effects appear immediately after treatment, typically disappearing a few days later.

NAD therapy’s other symptomatic side effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Vein inflammation (rare)
  • Allergic reaction (rare)

Since it’s a relatively new treatment, there isn’t any research to determine the long-term effects of NAD therapy.8

How Much Does NAD IV Therapy Cost

NAD IV therapy costs anywhere between $200 and $2,000. This cost can still go higher, depending on the vitamins included in the treatment. The price varies since the vitamin mixture must accommodate anything deficient in people with SUD.

Summary

NAD or NAD+ is short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a coenzyme that aids in several bodily functions. NAD therapy shows considerable promise as an alternative treatment for metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative conditions, and even substance use disorders (SUDs).

NAD treatment to manage drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms from SUDs can be administered orally through dietary supplements or IV drips. Treatment must be administered daily for over 10 to 30 days.


Since IV therapy isn’t FDA-approved, it might not provide the best results in treating the adverse effects of long-term drug use. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider to consider using it with other treatment options, such as group counseling and medication-assisted therapy (MAT).

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Updated on February 6, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Xie et al. “NAD+ metabolism: pathophysiologic mechanisms and therapeutic potential.” Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, 2020.
  2. Okabe et al. “Implications of altered NAD metabolism in metabolic disorders.” Journal of Biomedical Science, 2019.
  3. Braidy et al. “Sobriety and Satiety: Is NAD+ the Answer?” Antioxidants (Basel), 2020.
  4. Bolinsky, D. “Harvard Scientists Pinpoint Critical Step in DNA Repair, Cellular Aging.” The Harvard Gazette, 2017.
  5. Radenkovic et al. “Clinical Evidence for Targeting NAD Therapeutically.” Pharmaceuticals (Basel), 2020.
  6. Shin-ichiro, I., and Guarente, L. “NAD+ and Sirtuins in Aging and Disease.” Trends in Cell Biology, 2014.
  7. Hwang, E.S., and Song, S.B. “Possible Adverse Effects of High-Dose Nicotinamide: Mechanisms and Safety Assessment.” Biomolecules, 2020.
  8. Are There Any Side Effects Of NAD IV Therapy?” Drip Hydration.

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