Over the past fifty years, acupuncture has transitioned from a fringe alternative medical practice to an accepted treatment methodology for pain management and other medical issues. Some current research suggests that acupuncture is an effective tool to assist alcoholics and opiate addicts to recover from their addictions. Additional research will be needed to understand and verify this conclusion, but the prospects to use acupuncture as an addiction recovery strategy are intriguing.
Chinese warriors who were wounded by arrows were purportedly the first individuals to connect the possibility of easing pain by creating pressure at different positions on a person’s body. Modern acupuncture practice involves inserting thin needles into a person’s skin at specific energy or pressure points that have been loosely mapped out by acupuncture therapists. Modern science has theorized that these needles stimulate blood flow and the release of endorphins, which in turn reduces an individual’s pain and discomfort.
Recovering alcoholics and addicts who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms and cravings will receive an endorphin boost from acupuncture, which can reduce those cravings and stave off a relapse. These endorphin boosts are temporary, and acupuncture by itself should not be perceived as a cure for substance abuse and addiction. Rather, it is one weapon in an addiction recovery’s arsenal of tools that can be used as a recovery strategy. Recovering addicts and alcoholics who are receiving acupuncture therapy will continue to benefit from behavioral therapy and counseling, as well as long-term participation in recovery groups.
Acupuncture as a Recovery Strategy
Therapists who have used acupuncture in recovery treatments report that it is useful to reach patients who resist traditional therapy. Those patients may benefit from the non-verbal nature of acupuncture. A typical acupuncture session for about forty-five minutes, during which time a patient will often experience a reduced sense of agitation or anxiety and an easing of withdrawal symptoms. This further facilitates a sense of relaxation that allows a patient to focus on his inner strength and to develop a meditative state that continues after completion of the acupuncture session.
The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association has developed a protocol that practitioners generally use when treating recovering alcoholics and addicts. That protocol primarily involves ear acupuncture, as regions around a person’s ears have been found to be effective pressure and energy points for addiction recovery treatment. Different states have different regulations regarding who can practice acupuncture and what type of training those practitioners will be required to obtain. These differing regulations have created a patchwork of acupuncture availability, which can create difficulties for recovering alcoholics and addicts who are interested in pursuing acupuncture therapy
The Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, can provide more information and can answer your questions about the availability and effectiveness of acupuncture as a recovery strategy as a tool to treat your substance abuse issues. Please call us at 512-360-3600 for a confidential consultation and for referrals to certified acupuncture therapists who can work within the framework of your recovery program to help you achieve long-term sobriety.