How Did Acupuncture Become an Adjunct Therapy for Addiction Treatment?
Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that utilizes needles inserted painlessly into the first few layers of skin at specific points to help the patient experience relief of symptoms. Acupuncture is based upon the idea that the body has energy, or chi, that flows through it and that when that energy is blocked, illness develops. Addiction is an illness and the buildup of toxins can cause illness as well, so acupuncture is often incorporated into an addiction treatment program to help the patient progress in recovery.
History of Acupuncture
Lincoln Recovery, in New York City, was founded in 1970 in response to community activism promoting the need for more treatment for individuals suffering from addiction. In the beginning, they functioned primarily as an outpatient methadone clinic for individuals attempting to detox from heroin. However, acupuncture was just beginning to surface in American culture and, by 1974, the center decided to implement the new treatment as a non-medication alternative for heroin detox. This was based on research done by Dr. Wen in Hong Kong that demonstrated success using acupuncture for heroin detox. Volunteers provided the service for free because many of the original patients had no way to pay for treatments.
What Is the NADA Protocol for Acupuncture Detox?
At first, pioneering acupuncturists used the single point protocol on the ear with electrical stimulation that was made famous by Dr. Wen’s work. Patients consistently reported an effect that helped decrease the intensity of their cravings for approximately six hours on average. Impressed by the results that patients experienced, the practice began to spread and more and more addiction treatment specialists began to study acupuncture in depth. Over time, the protocol evolved and practitioners adopted the 5-point NADA ear protocol, now considered standard across the addiction treatment community.
The 5-point NADA ear protocol utilizes five points on the ear to encourage effects that include:
- Decreased effect of addiction on the lungs
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- Balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
- Strengthening the liver to further the detoxification of the body
- Strengthening of the kidney, also to aid in detoxifying the body
What Are the Reported Benefits of Acupuncture in Relation to Alcohol and Drug Recovery?
Patients of acupuncture for the purpose of treating addiction and acupuncturists alike have consistently said that the benefits of the treatment include:
- Increased program retention
- More optimistic and willing disposition in relation to recovery
- Reduced cravings, anxiety and sleep issues during detox
- Less need for the use of prescription drugs
What do you think about the use of acupuncture in addiction treatment? Let us know your thoughts below.