The ancient Chinese medical practice of acupuncture has been used by millions of people around the world for centuries to treat a variety of ailments from pain management to stress relief. More recently, it has become a popular alternative therapy for addiction recovery too. Not only can acupuncture carry certain physical benefits, but also psychological and mental benefits that may help individuals struggling with addition regain control over their lives. In this blog post, we will explore these potential acupuncture benefits for addiction recovery in more depth.
What Is Acupuncture?
According to MayoClinic, Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the belief that a person's life-force (known as chi or qi) flows through their body via pathways called meridians. Acupuncture is a technique used to help balance this energy flow by inserting thin needles into specific spots of skin located along these meridians. By doing so, acupuncture practitioners strive to re-balance the flow of energy throughout the body, encourage health and well-being, and treat pain.
In contrast, Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. It is believed that stimulating these points increases the body's natural painkillers which can reduce or even eliminate the sensation of pain.
How Does Acupuncture Help Addiction Recovery?
Acupuncture can be an alternative or additional treatment for addiction when paired with individual therapy and support groups. It has been found to be effective in reducing both the positive and negative reinforcements of drug addiction. Acupuncture treatments are believed to reduce the surge of pleasure and euphoria associated with drug use and decrease the withdrawal symptoms in addiction recovery, such as dysphoria and distress.
Acupuncture is believed to help with the following:
- Reduce cravings
- Ease unpleasant withdrawal symptoms
- Ease physical pain
- Decrease anxiety and stress
- Improve sleep regulation
- Help regulate emotions
The exact mechanisms by which acupuncture works are still not fully understood, but it is thought to affect the dopaminergic system in the brain which helps regulate one's pleasure/reward system. Acupuncture can be extremely beneficial in helping those suffering from substance abuse disorders manage their issues better.
The Acupuncture Process
Acupuncture has many different processes for various purposes. Specifically for an addiction treatment session, paper-thin needles are inserted into five different points of the ear. The process takes 1-2 minutes, and the patient can simply relax in a tranquil environment with dimmed lights. The process lasts from around 30 to 45 minutes and typically leaves one feeling refreshed and relaxed. As such, acupuncture can be an excellent destination in one’s pursuit of inner peace and mindfulness.
The five needles target the following specific areas:
- Automatic Point: “calms the nervous system and helps with relaxation”
- Shen Men: also known as “spirit gate,” “reduces anxiety and nervousness”
- Kidney Point: “calms fear and helps to heal internal organs”
- Liver Point: “removes toxins from liver and blood and reduces aggression”
- Lung Point: improves lung function and “helps clients let go of grief”
Acupuncture is a potential aid for individuals struggling with addiction, but it's important to note that it is not a cure. Rather, it should be seen as an addition to more formal forms of treatment and other methods that are crucial in making significant strides toward recovery from substance abuse.
Acupuncture may lead to some relief from certain difficult symptoms or cravings. It serves as a helpful tool when paired along with treatments and therapies. If you or someone close to you is dealing with addiction or the symptoms of drug withdrawal, seeking treatment is the first step to recovery before potentially adding acupuncture into the healing journey
Our programs at The Carter Treatment Center provide treatment for cocaine addiction, fentanyl addiction, alcoholism, and more. We realize how stressful and overwhelming the path to recovery is, and our team can be here to support you. Our center is proud to tailor our programs to the needs of each patient.
Reach out to us today at (678) 737-4430 or contact us online.