Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in Rehab

The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy service is currently paused at Castle Craig.

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?

Clients of Castle Craig rehab clinic have used hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a number of years to aid recovery from a variety of conditions during their alcohol and drug rehab treatment.

HBOT involves breathing 100% oxygen in a spacious, pressurised oxygen chamber. The oxygen you breathe in this process is delivered in greater concentration and higher pressure than the normal air we breathe. A session usually lasts for 60 minutes. 

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The Benefits of Increased Oxygen in Addiction Detox

Breathing oxygen under pressure has many benefits, especially for people going through detox from drugs and alcohol, and during the rest of the addiction recovery programme. HBOT can:

  • Halve the symptoms of opiate withdrawal;
  • Help repair damaged bodies – the treatment increases tissue regeneration and decreases swelling and inflammation by increasing oxygenated blood flow to damaged tissue and generating new blood vessels;
  • Help to clear toxins, which is important during drug and alcohol detoxification;
  • Help improve decision-making and controlling emotions by improving the quality and quantity of sleep;
  • Increase stem cell production by 800%, these cells regenerate damaged tissues in the pancreas, liver and brain, and other areas affected by alcohol and drug abuse.

Staff are fully trained to supervise conditions in the chamber, and the type of chamber used is so safe that it was deregulated by an Act of Parliament in 2008.

How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?

The normal air we breathe is made up of 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, and 1% carbon dioxide.

A hyperbaric chamber is needed to allow the pressure around the body to be increased. The technology is very well established, in fact, all commercial aircraft are hyperbaric chambers equipped with oxygen-breathing systems.

HBOT is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment that most people find comfortable and even relaxing. At Castle Craig, you will be treated in a secure and comfortable purpose-built chamber with a trained operator present to operate the baro chamber. Sometimes an attendant will join you in the chamber.

Inside the chamber is lined with cushioned seats and individual masks as well as a television. A safety briefing is given in advance of the session and we recommend you wear comfortable clothing.

Once the door closes you begin to feel the pressure increase. When the chamber is at the right pressure which is usually 1.5 to 2.0 atmospheres, you can relax and breathe the oxygen through your mask for the rest of the session. You can rest, watch television, or read.

Once your session is finished the pressure will be lowered slowly.

Castle Craig is the first and only alcohol and drug addiction clinic in the UK to offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an extra complementary treatment for patients.

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How Does Breathing More Oxygen Help?

The air that we breathe usually provides enough oxygen for both normal body metabolism and the repair of tissue damage after injury or illness. However, increasing the pressure surrounding a patient in a hyperbaric chamber and using 100% oxygen can allow a very significant increase in the amount of oxygen dissolved in the bloodstream. This is in addition to the oxygen carried by haemoglobin. Normally the amount carried dissolved in the plasma is about 0.3 ml per 100 ml of blood. At twice atmospheric pressure (2 ata) breathing 100% oxygen increases to 3 ml oxygen in 100ml of blood. The increased concentration means that the gradient for the transport of free oxygen from the blood into the tissues is increased 10-fold.

When tissues have been damaged the capillaries within the tissues are also damaged which increases the distances for oxygen to diffuse. This can lead to a severe oxygen deficit in the tissues even when the amount of oxygen carried in the blood is normal. The object of using the increase in pressure and oxygen concentration is to raise tissue oxygen values towards normal to initiate normal cellular repair mechanisms. In fact, oxygen, like glucose and water is an essential substrate.

How Does HBOT Lead To Tissue Recovery?

Oxygen is dissolved in the blood and transported, in combination with haemoglobin in the red blood cells throughout the body. This dissolved oxygen passes into the tissues. Breathing high levels of oxygen under hyperbaric conditions causes greater uptake of oxygen by the bodily fluids and so more can reach areas where the circulation is diminished or blocked and therefore improve recovery. The extra oxygen has additional benefits as it greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria. It also reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly in the affected areas.

Severe tissue hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) has many adverse effects from abolishing normal cell activity, for example, loss of consciousness to disabling white blood cell activity in infection. Only the administration of oxygen can ‘treat’ hypoxia and the objective of the administration of oxygen is to establish tissue oxygen values compatible with the initiation of normal healing.

How Is HBOT Administered?

HBOT is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment that most patients find comfortable and relaxing. You will be treated in a secure and comfortable purpose-built chamber with a trained operator present to operate the baro chamber. In certain circumstances, the attendant will accompany clients into the chamber. There has been no recorded case of a patient suffering either a heart attack or a stroke undergoing hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and oxygen under hyperbaric conditions can be used as a treatment for both conditions.

On entering the chamber clients can use a chair or, alternatively, they may sit on the floor. It is recommended that you wear comfortable clothing and leave any jewellery or watches outside. No smoking materials, matches or lighters are allowed in the chamber.

The treatment session is conducted in three phases:


Once the door is closed, there will be some noise as the pressure increases. It will get warmer and you will feel fullness in your ears similar to when descending in an aeroplane. You will have been taught how to avoid discomfort by clearing or ‘equalising’ your ears. As soon as the chamber pressure increases, you will need to start making your ears pop’. There are several ways to do this and the chamber attendant will find the best way that suits you. Some people find that swallowing is sufficient. If you develop any discomfort inform the attendant and the rate of compression will be reduced. There may be a few unusual noises but this is normal as the chamber ‘descends’.


On reaching the desired pressure (usually 1.5 to 2.0 ata) the client places a mask over the head and breathes oxygen for the duration of the session. The treatment begins when the pressure reaches the prescribed level. You may then rest, sleep, read or watch television if your chamber is equipped with one. The mask can be removed occasionally and the chamber can be decompressed at any time if necessary.


After the prescribed amount of time has elapsed the attendant will let you know when the treatment is complete and the pressure will be lowered slowly, at a rate that is comfortable. A session usually lasts just over an hour and can be repeated daily. If a patient is receiving two treatments a day the second treatment follows the first after a three to four-hour break outside the chamber. A patient receiving one treatment per day will spend about two hours at the treatment centre.

HBOT for Opiate Withdrawal in Rehab

2016 HBO2T research study, funded by the US Government National Institute of Health, and published in the journal Brain Research, found that HBOT can halve the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. The lead researcher hailed the discovery as of “profound importance” at a time when heroin use has doubled among young Americans in the last decade.

Hyperbaric Oxygen for Alcoholic Liver Damage

Liver Disease and cases of Hepatitis have been helped by HBOT. 

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HBOT for Brain Damage Related to Alcoholism

Addiction affects all organs in the body including the brain, and it is a sad fact that some people who have abused alcohol or drugs for many years can begin suffering from a brain disorder called Korsakoff’s Disease. 

What Is Korsakoff’s?

Wernicke’s encephalopathy occurs in cases of chronic alcohol abuse associated with poor absorption of thiamine (vitamin B1). The symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy include confusion, confusion of eye movements, poor balance (staggering) on intoxication, and there may be memory disturbance. People with Korsakoff’s syndrome cannot form new memories and there can be a severe loss of memory. In many cases, Korsakoff’s is caused by alcohol misuse. HBOT may be able to relieve some symptoms of Korsakoff’s.


Hyperbaric oxygen may help those with Alzheimer’s. A 2021 study from Israel showed that people with pre-dementia (mild cognitive impairment) have improved memory and brain function following sessions in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

Hyperbaric Oxygen at Castle Craig


Eight years ago, a Taliban bomb in Afghanistan seriously injured Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, leaving him without both legs and putting him in a coma for four months.

Now after pioneering treatment, involving breathing pure oxygen, Ben is learning to walk again.

The BBC’s Robert Hall went to speak to him: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31496435

Daily Telegraph

Brain-injured veteran Ben Parkinson can now walk up to two miles a day after starting the controversial hyperbaric oxygen treatment at Castle Craig Hospital. Cherrill Hicks talks to Prof Philip James, author of a new book on the subject.

Read the full article here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/11376969/Oxygen-therapy-the-treatment-behind-servicemans-amazing-recovery.html

Daily Mail

Britain’s most injured surviving soldier who was left in a coma for four months and lost both legs is making an amazing recovery and is now able to walk two miles a day

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2954548/Britain-s-injured-surviving-soldier-left-coma-four-months-lost-legs-making-miracle-recovery-able-walk-two-miles-day.html

Credit Daily Mail Photographers.

Cost of HBOT at Castle Craig

We charge for HBOT as an extra on top of our addiction treatment programme and clients may begin receiving oxygen therapy after detox and providing they have sign-off from the clinical team.

Contact Us About HBOT in Addiction Rehab

Hyperbaric O2 Therapy Ltd provide HBOT at Castle Craig. They are a non-profit organisation, providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy on-site at Castle Craig.

Alternatively, contact us for more information.

How Can Castle Craig Help?

How Do I Pay For Rehab?

One concern we sometimes hear from people is how they will fund their rehab treatment. The cost of rehab varies depending on what kind of accommodation you choose. You can pay for treatment at Castle Craig privately, or through medical insurance, and some people receive funding through the NHS.

How Long Is the Rehab Programme?

Residential rehab treatment starts at 4 weeks and can go up to 12+ weeks. Research shows us that the longer you stay in rehab and are part of the residential therapy programme, the longer the likelihood of continued abstinence and stable recovery.

Who Will I Speak to When I Call?

When you call you will reach our Help Centre team who will give you all the information you need to help you decide whether to choose treatment at Castle Craig. Once you have decided that you would like to have a free screening assessment you will be put in touch with our admissions case managers who will guide you through the admissions process.

What Happens at the End of My Treatment?

Castle Craig thoroughly prepares patients before departure by creating a personalised continuing care plan which is formulated following discussions with the medical and therapeutic team. We offer an online continuing care programme which runs for 24 weeks after leaving treatment, in order to ensure a smooth transition back into your everyday life. Patients leaving treatment automatically join our Recovery Club where they can stay connected via our annual reunion, events, online workshops and recovery newsletters.

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