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How Acupuncture Helps in Treating Addiction

Treatment for addiction isn’t a one size fits all proposition. Just as each person is unique, so too are the circumstances of their addiction and, crucially, what will work best in helping them get past it.

Traditional methods of rehab like individual and group therapy, also known as talk therapy or psychotherapy, have been shown to work absolute wonders for those grappling with substance abuse but that’s not the end all, be all of your options.

Alternative and complementary treatments serve to create a more holistic approach to recovery. 

Of these alternatives, few are more well known than acupuncture. 

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a practice used in traditional Chinese medicine and is a technique in which specific points on the body are stimulated by inserting fine needles through the skin. Remarkably, the use of acupuncture as a method of treatment dates back roughly 3,000 years.

Traditional Chinese medicine and eastern medicine, in general, have been growing in popularity for years now and acupuncture has certainly seen some of the widest acceptance with more than 10 million treatments administered every year in the United States.

It’s worth noting, and to avoid confusion, that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is considered a complementary approach in the United States. TCM is predicated on the concept of Qi, usually translated as “vital energy” and the theory of “yin and yang” or the harmony of all the opposite elements and forces that make up existence. The belief of TCM, therefore, is that:

  • Harmony brings health, wellbeing, and sustainability
  • Disharmony leads to illness, disease, and collapse

So while on the surface it may seem like it’s just sticking needles in the body, there is a concrete and exact intention with each placement. To bring balance to the flow of energy. More precisely, “acupuncture is based on the complex TCM theory that an energy (Qi) flows through meridians in each organ and most acupoints are located along one of these meridians. Because diseases are caused by an imbalance or disturbance of Qi, needling at these acupoints can harmonize Qi and cure diseases”.

That knowledge is all well and good but what’s the benefit of acupuncture for addiction?

How Does Acupuncture Help When Treating Addiction?

Seeing as how addiction throws the body and mind into chaos, or disharmony and imbalance to put it in the language of acupuncture, it stands to reason that any approach that works towards balance and harmony could have a positive effect.

Among the benefits people tend to find with acupuncture are a reduction in cravings and an alleviation of the potential discomfort or pain associated with treatment (i.e., withdrawal symptoms). Additionally, acupuncture can help relieve the stress and anxiety that can creep in when you’re working towards sobriety. With lower stress levels, less pain and reduced cravings, you’ll likely start to get better sleep as well.

It’s been shown that “prominent effects of acupuncture are increases in the levels of enkephalin, epinephrine, endorphin, serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the central nervous system and plasma [8] that might mediate substance abuse”. “Might” is the operative word here and is extremely important for context. This technique is not intended to be a standalone treatment for addiction in and of itself. It’s defined as complementary for a reason and acupuncture should only be one facet of a more full-spectrum treatment program.

That’s the whole idea behind holistic treatment, to treat the whole person. Drugs and alcohol are an incredibly destabilizing force on your entire being and in order to set yourself up for a long lasting recovery, it’s important to approach treatment with that in mind.

Get Treatment at Inneractions

At Inneractions in the San Fernando Valley, we understand the value that alternative treatment methods offer in overcoming addiction. If you’re curious about acupuncture and whether it’s right for you, get in touch with us and let’s chat about it.