Long used to treat addictions in Western countries, acupuncture is an Oriental healing procedure that has been utilized in hospitals along with conventional Western modes of treatment such as methadone for heroin addictions. Acupuncture is also utilized by several addiction clinics to resolve the underlying causes and symptoms of addiction. This extremely effective form of Chinese medicine has worked for thousands of years for the treatment of dozens of diseases and illnesses although it has only been used to battle the effects of addiction in the West relatively recently. Acupuncture has worked consistently to address several types of addictions, from nicotine to heroin, and from overeating to cocaine.
Proof of Acupuncture’s Success
Acupuncture has been clinically proven to be effective in treating addictions. In 1974, the Lincoln Clinic, which is the first acupuncture detoxification clinic in the United States, opened in New York City. The initial treatments given to addicts in this clinic involved a combination therapy of methadone and acupuncture. Because acupuncture treatments worked much better than methadone, methadone was eventually dropped from the treatment protocol. The clinic’s director, Dr. Michael Smith, stated that acupuncture has a rate of success that is significantly more superior to that of other conventional treatment programs
Acupuncture Treatment for Addiction in Miami – How and Why it Works
Ear Acupuncture (Auriculotherapy)
Treating addiction with acupuncture involves the needling of acupuncture points (acupoints) on the ear. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has an entire branch dedicated to addressing the body and health issues that treats only the ear. Auriculotherapy or auricular acupuncture is a type of acupuncture that focuses treatment exclusively on the ear. This form of acupuncture was discovered by Dr. Paul Nogier, a French physician who discovered that specific acupoints on the skin surface of the body corresponded to a specific acupoint on the ear. Auriculotherapy, by far, has been the most potent therapy for addictions. One added advantage of using this treatment is that it does not require the removal of clothing for it to be applied and so guarantees a patient’s privacy. These days, several standard auriculotherapy addiction protocols have been created and their facility of use allows them to be easily taught to both acupuncturists and doctors.
Western Conventional Medicine
According to Western medicine, acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating many forms of addiction can be ascribed to the fact that studies have revealed acupuncture has the ability to increase the levels of endorphins in the nervous system. Known as the body’s natural analgesics (painkillers), endorphins function in a similar way to heroin and other opiates that have a powerful painkilling effect. Studies reveal that suppressing the powerful withdrawal symptoms for drug addicts requires raising the levels of endorphin in the nervous system. The amount of endorphins in the nervous system will also determine the level of desire a person has vis-à-vis eating. This is one reason why acupuncture is also a popular and effective treatment for losing weight by assisting people to suppress their appetites.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In the treatment of addictions, Chinese medicine has its own way of explaining how to come about resolving this issue. Known as a holistic type of treatment, Chinese medicine believes that every part of the body works synergistically and is a unified system. The focal point of the this type of medicine is the principle of yin and yang, two opposing but complementary forms of energy that needs to be in balance in order for a person to experience good health. Yang is known as the energy representing “fire” while yin represents “water.” Yin is substance, yang is function. Yang devours and yin provides. A deficiency in Yin is the type of imbalance addicts suffer in their body most of the time. When there is an abundance of Yang in the body, the person will experience symptoms such as excess of frenetic energy, restlessness, and hyperactivity. These are symptoms that compel addicts to ceaselessly seek out drugs. The emotional symptoms of Yang abundance include anger, agitation, and anxiety, among others.
These aspects of yang (fire) dominate the body due to deficiency in yin (water), which is unable to tame or balance the fire. The addict is forced to use drugs because of the abundance of yang. This, in turn, worsens the yin deficiency even more. Narcotics are yang-oriented substances that propagate this cycle. Because of their restlessness and anxiety, addicts turn to drugs to feel a lot better, but their use only adds more yang into the body, furthering the depletion of yin.
In treating addiction, auriculotherapy is performed to nourish the yin. In each ear, acupuncturists will usually needle one to five acupoints. For 30 to 45 minutes the needles are left in the ear. The treatment oftentimes makes the patient relaxed and calmed. He/she can be seated or lie down during the procedure. The treatment gives the patient a sense of well being, an experience that is not felt by an anxious patient suffering from addiction. In between treatment sessions, ear seeds are used as an adjunct treatment to prolong the benefits of the therapy. These ear seeds can be vaccaria seeds and other natural seeds or tiny metal balls stuck to the acupuncture points of the ear. To stimulate the acupoints, patients are instructed to press on them to neutralize withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Ear acupoints in the treatment of addiction include the liver, kidney, and lung. These are the organs systems responsible for eliminating toxins in the body and they are very important in the treatment of addiction.
The number of acupuncture treatments for addiction will be based on the substance being used. Addiction to “hard drugs” usually implies daily treatments until the patient becomes clean. This is followed by treatment two times a week until the patient is able to control the cravings on his/her own and has no temptation to use more substances. Daily treatments are given to alcoholics during the initial stages of treatment, which lessens in frequency as the symptoms gradually dissipate.
Nicotine is considered a mild addictive substance and so nicotine addicts do not require the intensive treatments that “hard drug” addicts need to undergo. Treatments often do not require daily treatments and results such as a lessening of the cravings are often noticed after a single or a couple of treatments. The length of the therapy is significantly less for smokers than hard drug addicts. It usually lasts for two to three weeks. Most patients are cured after a two to three week period of four to five sessions each week. There are patents who are able to lessen the number of cigarettes they smoke each day. To better control withdrawal symptoms and cravings in between treatments, ear seeds are placed on the patient’s ears and applied when the need for it arises.
The Desire to Quit
No matter what form a treatment you undergo, it may not be that successful if you lack a serious desire to quit. A sick person cannot be expected to get well if he/she does not first acknowledge his/her problem and the desire to make that change. As with any type of treatment, acupuncture will only work if the patient involves himself/herself to the treatment and if he/she has the desire to get well. Getting better is always a joint undertaking and a good result is always dependent on the patient’s desire to make it so.
As a standalone treatment for complex issues as addiction, acupuncture cannot be effective. Addiction is more than a physiological problem. It also has profound psychological implications that need to be tackled for cure to be attained. In concert with other modalities such as counseling and support group therapy, acupuncture can address the psychological aspects of addiction. The rate of relapses is quite high for addicts and so these treatments are not only given to help detoxify the addict but they also will be needed afterwards to support the addict on the arduous and long road to recovery and cure.