- Mental Health
The benefits of acupuncture in drug rehab.
Acupuncture...not as painful as it looks!
Can acupuncture really help with addiction?
Acupuncture works…really it does; and although no one can say with any certainty (using western medical science) why it does, rigorous clinical studies have shown that it does offer numerous medical benefits, and one area of particular interest is in the treatment of addiction and throughout recovery.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical technique dating back at least 5000 years. The technique is based upon a Chinese medical philosophy based on of Qi (pronounced chee). Qi is the life or energy force of the body, and the correct flow of Qi is essential for full health.
Chinese medicine practitioners believe that we all have14 paired channels (called meridians) throughout the body, and that when any of these meridians is blocked in any way, the Qi cannot flow properly and health consequences result.
To manipulate the flow of Qi through these channels, acupuncturists insert specially designed needles of varying thicknesses into the meridians where they travel close to the skin, and through manipulation of these needles, are able to restore the flow of Qi.
Although very commonly used in the East, since there is no evidence of any Qi or meridians within the body, Western practitioners have been very slow to adopt the technique. Yet although no one can really explain why it works, it very much does, and it has numerous medical uses.
How is acupuncture used in the treatment of addiction?
Acupuncture reduces cravings back to abuse, helps with physical withdrawal symptoms and alleviates some of the depression associated with recovery form addiction.
Clinical studies run by NIDA (National Institute of Drug Addiction) have shown that recovering addicts getting acupuncture therapy stayed in treatment for longer, and that even when acupuncture is used alone it offers some effective assistance in relapse prevention.
In addition to clinical data, there are legions of people who have benefited from acupuncture during drug treatment, and their anecdotal data provides compelling testimony of the effectiveness of the technique.
Limitations of acupuncture in drug treatment
Although acupuncture does seem to ease withdrawal symptoms from opiates, from alcohol and even from cigarettes, and it does reduce cravings and depression; it is not designed to be a stand alone treatment for addiction.
Even ardent proponents of the technique call for acupuncture to be used in conjunction with other therapies of treatment. Acupuncture can relieve some of the discomfort of recovery, and can ease some cravings back to use, but it cannot change the personal factors that led to abuse and addiction in the first place, and it cannot as such offer lasting change to anyone using it alone.
How should you use it?
If you are undergoing outpatient therapy for addiction, you may want to consider experimenting with a few sessions of acupuncture. The testimonies of people who have used and benefited from the technique are strong and convincing, and it can do no harm to try it.
If you are looking for an inpatient drug treatment facility, you may want to consider one that offers peripheral programming that includes some acupuncture. It is never going to be enough on its own, but since everyone responds differently to therapies in rehab, every additional tool against relapse is a very valuable thing.