The Effectiveness of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Drug Addiction

Before choosing to utilize acupuncture in recovery, it is important to understand its history, what it is, and how it can benefit you. Around nine to twelve per cent of the participants reported that they had relapsed in alcohol use or used at least one other drug at T2 and T3. There were no statistically significant differences in this respect between those who had received NADA-acupuncture, acupuncture according to the local protocol, or relaxation . Diagnoses according to ICD-10 as well as data on outpatient visits to a doctor and inpatient treatment episodes at the AC 6 months before and 6 months after treatment initiation were gathered from the clinical files.

acupuncture for addiction

We combine evidence-based therapies like individual, group, and family therapy with alternative approaches so that you can begin repairing the physical, mental, and spiritual wounds of addiction. We have acupuncture specialists trained in the NADA approach, and we offer a variety of other alternative therapies. Depending on the Footprints to Recovery location, alternative addiction therapy options include approaches such as yoga, drum circle, psychodrama, nutrition services, EMDR, and art therapy. Recently, the neurophysiology of acupuncture has been investigated extensively and reviewed in detail.


Markou A, Weiss F, Gold LH, Caine SB, Schulteis G, Koob GF. Animal models of drug craving. The mission of Footprints to Recovery is to provide the education, tools, and support for individuals, families, and the community to find the reason to achieve lasting recovery and a life lived to the fullest potential.

acupuncture for addiction

He said he was sentenced to four years of probation for a crime he asked me not to mention, but Bob Duggan convinced the judge to let Barr attend and volunteer at Penn North programs instead. Some of the people Duggan brought into Penn North in the early days continue to promote acupuncture over medication-assisted treatment. One day when I was visiting Penn North, a middle-aged white man walked into the dim lobby wearing paint-splattered clothes and a baseball cap. He said he needed help with his heroin problem but couldn’t enter a residential facility because it would cost him his job. The common thread has been a deep distrust of traditional medicine that stems from a history of discrimination at the hands of doctors. Many people in Baltimore, including some among the staff at Penn North, remain wary of being mistreated by the medical establishment, and it affects their health-care choices today.

Acupuncture for Addictions

Transcutaneous electric acupoint stimulation was a possible adjunctive treatment to pharmacological treatments for heroin detoxification . Acupuncture at Dazhui and Baihui prevented brain cell apoptosis in heroin-readdicted rats, normalized alcohol withdrawal neuronal ultrastructure in the ventral tegmental area of heroin relapse rats, and protected nerve cells against injury in heroin relapse rats . With regard to substance use, we found no differences between groups at follow-up.

  • •Acupuncture reduces drug seeking via direct activation of brain pathway.
  • Chu NN, Xia W, Yu P, Hu L, Zhang R, Cui CL. Chronic morphine-induced neuronal morphological changes in the ventral tegmental area in rats are reversed by electroacupuncture treatment.
  • Its role in addiction treatment has wound through Maoist China, to the Black Panther Party, to the stepfather of the rapper Tupac Shakur, and finally to two white hippies from Maryland.
  • It is also plausible that some of the effects in all three groups are effects of regression to the mean .

In many cases, drug addiction starts with a prescription medication that becomes a habit. The longer a person takes a drug, the more the body gets used to processing it and eliminating it. The drug becomes less effective and a higher dosage is needed to get the same positive effect. Despite the negative publicity, Lincoln Detox became a training center of sorts for other progressive types who were interested in alternative forms of drug treatment. The beleaguered Bronx facility would cause acupuncture to flourish in inner-city Baltimore in the ’90s, during one of the worst drug epidemics the city had ever seen. Its method of bringing acupuncture to the masses piqued the interest of a flower child named Bob Duggan, who would go on to found Penn North, the recovery center I visited.

Only 10 published articles met our inclusion criteria and these were systematically reviewed . The other articles were excluded because they were not RCTs or included subjects without heroin or opiate addiction . Many studies in animals and humans have demonstrated that acupuncture causes multiple biological alcoholism treatment & alcohol rehab responses . Manual acupuncture and EA are capable of triggering a chain of events that can be understood through controlled experiments. Different kinds of endogenous opiates, such asβ-endorphin, enkephalin, endomorphin, and dynorphin, reportedly act as frequency-dependent factors in EA.

Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Drug Addiction

Subsequently using acupuncture to treat symptoms addicts invited more and more medical and community interests, so that more and more trials were initiated. The articles were classified according to their specifications, including publication date, number of citations, source, authors, organization, and funding agencies. All original research papers were examined for their efficacy and method of treating different categories of addiction to agonist substances (e.g., cocaine, opioid and opiate, nicotine, alcohol, morphine).

What part of the brain is affected by acupuncture?

Research Highlights. Acupuncture modulates brain activity at the limbic–paralimbic–neocortical network (LPNN) and the default mode network (DMN). Deactivation at the LPNN/DMN during needle manipulation of acupuncture was more extensive in females than in males.

These 2 studies produced negative results, reporting that auricular acupuncture had no effect on withdrawal severity, craving, and attendance when provided as an adjunct to methadone treatment services. This mistrust of Western doctors and medicine is not surprising, perhaps, since even decades after the heyday of Lincoln Detox, studies reveal shocking levels of racism in the medical profession. A 2016 study how to create a meaningful life in 7 days and make found that half of medical students believe at least one myth about racial differences in biology, such as that black people’s skin is thicker or that their blood coagulates more quickly than that of whites. A recent analysis of 15 studies found that health-care providers were biased against dark-skinned people, and this bias influenced their patient interactions and the patient’s health outcomes.

Additional benefits of NADA acupuncture

Pelletier KR, Marie A, Krasner M, Haskell WL. Current trends in the integration and reimbursement of complementary and alternative medicine by managed care, insurance carriers, and hospital providers. OB and LK participated in the data analyses and LK helped to draft the manuscript. “There’s a group called Acupuncturist Without Borders which goes to places after natural disasters occur. These acupuncturists administer the NADA protocol to those affected to help decrease the stress of these situations,” says Sobo. Lung – The lung ear point can help with the release of emotions and expand lung capacity.

acupuncture for addiction

Sessions subdue patient cravings for drugs while also creating feelings of calm and relief from withdrawal symptoms. During a session, paper-thin needles are inserted into five different points of the ear. After the session, the patient leaves feeling profoundly calm and relaxed. AA and NADA protocols failed to show a strong therapeutic effect for cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol addiction treatment. However, some studies discussed here indicate that acupuncture at Shenmen , Zusanli , and Sanyinjiao acupoints can affect drug-induced physiological activities. EA applied at Zusanli was more effective than EA at Shenshu at normalizing alcohol-drinking behavior in rats ; the activity of serotonergic neurons in the reward system pathway of the brain might be increased and prolonged by acupuncture .

Acupressure has the additional advantage of avoiding bleeding and infection of the punctured sites. Acupuncture is well-known for the control of pain and some autonomic symptoms like nausea, vomiting and dizziness. In China, the application of acupuncture for opiate withdrawal is therefore a logical historical attempt.

What acupuncture Cannot treat?

There are no specific diseases that cannot be treated with acupuncture. However, there are certain contraindications of needle insertion based on the location of the acupoint or health status of the patient.

Some of these holistic options include yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Patients who adhere to these options can see direct benefits in the area they are hoping to improve, as well as great fringe benefits such as better fitness, better sleep, and lower cholesterol. Holistic therapy is a treatment that uses all-natural means to promote healing or sobriety. Acupuncture may seem like an out-of-the-ordinary way to treat addiction, but in reality, it is one of the oldest natural treatments known to man.

Regarding negative reinforcement, acupuncture treatment stimulates enkephalin neurons in the hypothalamus and interacts withμ-opioid receptors to inhibit VTA GABAergic interneurons and thus increases dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens . Clinical trials are currently underway to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of drug addiction. While there are still many unanswered questions about the basic mechanisms of acupuncture, some evidence exists to suggest that acupuncture can play an important role in reducing reinforcing effects of abused drugs. The neurochemical and behavioral evidence showed that acupuncture’s role in suppressing the reinforcing effects of abused drugs takes place by modulating mesolimbic dopamine neurons. Also, several brain neurotransmitter systems such as serotonin, opioid and amino acids including GABA have been implicated in the modulation of dopamine release by acupuncture.

Acupuncture is increasingly being implemented as part of comprehensive drug rehabilitation treatments. This is as a result of its efficacy in treating drug addiction and aiding the detoxification process. An evaluation of the event-related potentials of heroin addicts before and after acupuncture at Neiguan and Zusanli suggested that EA might potentially lower relapse rates by inhibiting attention bias to heroin . The presentation of heroin cues could induce activation in craving-related brain regions, which are involved in reward, learning and memory, cognition, and emotion. Acupuncture at Zusanli rapidly suppressed the activation of these specific brain regions related to craving .

It’s based on principles of collaboration, unobstructed discovery, and, most importantly, scientific progression. As PhD students, we found it difficult to access the research we needed, so we decided to create a new Open Access publisher that levels the playing field for scientists across the world. By making research easy to access, and puts the academic needs of the researchers before the business interests of publishers. Pleasedo not use this form to submit personal or patient medical information or to report adverse drug events.

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