Addiction is a complicated issue that often requires multiple strategies to treat. For someone seeking treatment for alcoholism, for example, it can be helpful to supplement a traditional substance abuse recovery program with one or more holistic rehabilitative techniques, and many recovering alcoholics have found acupuncture to be an effective method of achieving life-long sobriety. At rehab centers like Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, alternative therapies like acupuncture can be incorporated into the client’s individualized addiction treatment program, to create a personalized approach that addresses his or her unique recovery needs. For instance, using acupuncture for alcohol cravings dramatically reduces the patient’s desires for the substance.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a crucial component of traditional Chinese medicine, and the practice of acupuncture involves the insertion of thin metal needles into the skin at strategic points on the body, typically as a treatment for chronic pain and musculoskeletal problems. When used in the treatment of alcoholism or drug addiction, however, acupuncture targets just a few specific points on the body, typically the points that are connected to the lungs, kidney, and liver, three organs significantly affected by alcohol abuse. In some cases, alternative acupuncture points may be stimulated to achieve different results, for instance, in the treatment of those struggling with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.
Acupuncture for Alcohol Cravings
Research has shown that acupuncture is a safe, affordable, and effective treatment method for substance abuse that can reduce cravings in alcohol- or drug-dependent individuals. In a 2000 study conducted by researchers at Yale University, it was reported that nearly 55% of cocaine addicts who underwent acupuncture tested negative in their last week of treatment, compared to only 23.5% of addicts who did not receive acupuncture treatment. In another study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine in 2014, researchers studied the effect of acupuncture for alcohol cravings in patients with alcohol dependence and found that the acupuncture group experienced a significant reduction in cravings compared to the placebo group.
Cravings can pose a significant challenge for individuals undergoing treatment for a dependency on alcohol and acupuncture is one way recovering alcoholics can correct the underlying imbalance that triggers their addiction, thereby treating the addiction problem and any related emotional issues. According to the 2014 acupuncture study, by stimulating the Zhubin (KI9) point in the lower leg, which has traditionally “been used as an acupoint for detoxification,” rather than the popular auricular acupuncture points recognized by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), acupuncturists can effectively use acupuncture for alcohol cravings. By doing this, it reduces cravings in alcohol-dependent clients. As Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) faculty member Donna Keefe says, when an addict is suffering from an imbalance, they begin abusing alcohol to self-medicate. By using acupuncture for alcohol cravings, it can “help patients get back to a ‘para-sympathetic’ state on their own, where they’re not in ‘fight or flight’ mode, but where they feel most like their true self.”
The Acupuncture Therapy Experts at BRS Can Help
Alcohol is the most commonly abused addictive substance in the United States, and according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 17.6 million people (one in every 12 adults) struggle with alcohol abuse or dependence. Fortunately, Behavioral Rehabilitation Services has trained and certified acupuncture specialists on staff who understand and appreciate the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of alcoholism, and who work hard to address the unique recovery needs of each client. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependency or another severe addiction problem, call BRS today to discuss with a professional addiction recovery counselor the benefits of acupuncture therapy in substance abuse treatment.