Needles for Recovery: Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture for Addiction

The United States is riddled with addiction.

Indeed, check out these statistics:

Almost 20 million Americans over 12 years old struggled with a substance use disorder in 2017. According to the same source, three-quarters of those individuals had a comorbid alcohol addiction.

Clearly, drug and alcohol abuse is rife in this country. It’s a serious subject with major implications at individual, social and economic levels. Everyone suffers when substance use is a problem in society.

There’s never been a greater need for effective treatment approaches. Thankfully, a lot can be done. A combination of detox programs, support groups, and therapy can do a lot to relieve the burden of addiction.

However, current methods are far from fool-proof. They are expensive, time-consuming, and are rarely 100% effective. For these reasons, many people seek alternative forms of treatment to help in collaboration with existing methods.

Acupuncture for addiction is one increasingly popular example of an alternative approach. But what actually is it? And how does it support a recovering addict?

Keep reading to find out.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture was first used in traditional Chinese medicine.

It involves the insertion of needles into particular ‘acupuncture points’ in the body. For instance, different parts of the back, face, and ears are commonly targeted areas. Don’t be alarmed though. These needles aren’t of the usual variety you find in the doctor’s office!

They’re just as sterile but far finer in nature. For over 2000 years, this treatment has been performed in support of all manner of health problems. When performed by a trained professional, side effects and problems are incredibly rare.

Now, back in the day, acupuncture was thought to relieve pain and illness by re-enabling a flow of energy (sometimes known as ‘chi’) through the body. Western medicine explains the effects in terms of nerve and muscle stimulation, ensuing increases in blood flow, and the release of endorphins.

It’s a scientifically proven treatment approach for a long list of conditions. The use of acupuncture for addiction treatment is one particular area of interest.

Auricular acupuncture is the preferred method for support addicts. That’s a fancy way of saying the needles are inserted into your ear! Read on for how an addict may stand to benefit from it.

Top Benefits of Acupuncture in Addiction Recovery

Let’s turn to the ways acupuncture can help a recovering addict. However, to begin, it’s worth noting that more research is required!

It’s true that acupuncture has been used in addiction recovery for some time now. Equally, there are many anecdotal reports of its value. However, scientific evidence is limited.

As a result, don’t forgo traditional treatment in favor solely of acupuncture. Only use it in collaboration with other support approaches.

With that said, here are 5 benefits of using acupuncture as a treatment for addiction.

1. Enhances Sleep

Sleep is a central component of living a healthy life.

Conversely, sleep deprivation can cause a whole host of negative health issues. Mood swings, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even a reduced lifespan are all potential outcomes (some more likely than others).

None of these are conducive to recovery from addiction. Indeed, it’s well known that a lack of sleep is often a primary cause of relapse. For one, being awake for longer creates more time to obsess over the drug- you can’t relapse when you’re asleep!

Unfortunately, difficult sleeping is common in addicts. Acupuncture is reported to relieve insomnia and help you sleep. That alone may be incentive enough to give it a try.

2. Reduces Cravings

Any type of addiction yields cravings when you try to stop taking.

For instance, try to give up sugar. For some time after, you’ll feel lethargic, sluggish and crave for chocolate, sweets, cakes and so on. Now, imagine what it’s like when you come off alcohol, or a class A drug, with a host of mental health issues running in the background too.

Cravings are an almighty bane in the life of someone in recovery. Again, acupuncture is said to lessen the intensity of them, providing the resolve to keep abstaining.

3. Fights Depression

Many people begin abusing substances as a form of self-medication.

Deep internal pain and distress are impossible to live with indefinitely. For many, drugs and alcohol provide an easy way of blocking it out. Of course, it’s a vicious cycle. The effects wear off and the only solution they know is to take again.

Over time, greater quantities are required to have the same impact. Add to that the intrinsic depressive nature of alcohol and many drugs, and it quickly becomes a slippery slope to addiction.

Coming off the drugs isn’t easy. All those same feeling of shame and hurt come to the fore. Except now they must be faced without the coping mechanism that’s been used for so long. Deep depression can quickly become a problem.

Acupuncture is commonly used to relieve it.

4. Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Similarly, anxiety and stress are often comorbid with addiction.

They may also have contributed to the initial foray into alcohol and drugs that led to addiction. It’s just like a smoker having a cigarette to cope with stress. Drugs and alcohol used to excess can have a similar effect.

Stress and anxiety are common features of an addict’s experience. Thankfully, acupuncture has been shown to provide relief for both.   

5. Assists Pain Relief

Finally, one of acupuncture’s most common uses is for pain management.

That’s good news for someone recovering from addiction. For one thing, withdrawal symptoms can create deep physical pain. For another, pain medication is often exceptionally addictive. Many people get hooked on pain meds every year.

Acupuncture offers a healthy and natural alternative to reducing pain.

Time to Get Acupuncture for Addiction

There you have it: everything you need to know about getting acupuncture for addiction.

Drug and alcohol addiction are ubiquitous in the United States. Millions of people around the country are currently battling some form of substance use disorder. The health implications for failing to get support can be severe.

Unfortunately, traditional treatment approaches aren’t guaranteed to help. The need for alternative forms of treatment is as high as ever. As we’ve seen, acupuncture is one particular alternative that offers potential relief.

Hopefully, this article has provided all the information you need to seek further support.

Looking for more advice on addiction recovery? Be sure to read all related content on the blog. Just search ‘addiction’ to get started.