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Is Acupuncture Therapy An Effective Way To Treat Alcohol Addiction?

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You may have seen or heard of this practice before. Often seen in movies or television series as merely a luxurious and unorthodox method of wellness, it has since emerged as a treatment for addiction. This, however, brings up a lot of questions: is there science behind acupuncture for alcohol addiction? Is it effective? What are the risks of acupuncture? 

Read more to learn about this famous but not-so-understood practice!


What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that originated in China and has persisted for more than a thousand years. It is the process by which practitioners stimulate specific points of a person’s body by inserting needles through the skin. 

This is anchored in traditional Chinese medicine and revolves around the idea of chi. According to this belief, a balanced flow of chi within a person’s body is essential to good health. Blockages in the pathway of chi clear inside the body using acupuncture, and as a result, people should feel relief and have generally better health. 


How does acupuncture work? 

Acupunctures are said to work by creating minor injuries at the points where the needles are inserted. These injuries are so tiny that they do not cause any discomfort, yet the body still responds to it as if they were any other injury. This also promotes blood circulation in the area, gets the immune system up and running, and jumpstarts the body’s pain modulation and ability to heal wounds. 

acupuncture therapy for drug addiction

In the more qualitative sense, acupuncture as a procedure can be relaxing and alleviate feelings of stress or anxiety. Since people can be more prone to illness if stressed or anxious, relaxation treatments such as acupuncture can provide relief for ailments. 


What does acupuncture treat?

There are a variety of conditions that acupuncture has been claimed to help treat. These conditions include: 

  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines 
  • Muscle sprains 
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Menstrual cramps
  • PMS
  • Hypertension
  • Allergies
  • Insomnia
  • Strokes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Most studies suggest that acupuncture is for pain relief, such as lower back pain, knee pain, and neck pain. Studies about it also show evidence that it can help reduce migraine and tension headaches. 


The following are conditions that have very limited to no evidence that shows that acupuncture can be a helpful treatment:

  • Obesity
  • Infertility
  • Acne
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diabetes
  • Schizophrenia
  • Cancer 


What kind of acupuncture treatment is used for alcohol addiction?

In treating alcohol addiction, auricular acupuncture may be used. This is a form of ear acupuncture for addiction where three to five needles are inserted into a person’s outer ear. 

Other methods of acupuncture include manual acupuncture, electroacupuncture, acupressure, and micro-acupuncture. 

Despite differences in each method and approach, acupuncture generally includes the following elements: 

1. Puncturing

The needles used in acupuncture are so thin that they cause very minimal pain.

2. Manipulation

After puncturing, the practitioner may lightly twirl the needles or apply a gradual heat to them.

3. Removal

Lastly, after the prescribed time has elapsed, the needles are removed quickly and carefully, as painlessly as possible. 


Does acupuncture work for alcohol addiction? 

Even though there is limited evidence to support the claim that acupuncture directly impacts the treatment of alcohol addiction, there have been studies conducted that showed statistically significant improvement in helping a person cope with alcohol craving, withdrawal, and drinking episodes. 

However, it is essential to note that many factors such as expectation and belief play a role in the efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment for pain or addiction. It might be a placebo effect, and that the treatment only works because people believe it to work. 

If anything, it helps to consider complementary treatment methods for alcohol addiction, and so far, there is no evidence that acupuncture for addiction hampers recovery in any way. 


What is the effectiveness of acupuncture to cure addiction? 

Acupuncture is not a cure for addiction since there is no evidence that acupuncture for addiction is a cure. 

Most studies suggest it only as a beneficial treatment that works best alongside other, more established forms of rehabilitation

In the case of alcohol addiction, the relaxation caused by the painkillers and endorphins released by the body when being treated with acupuncture helps them fight the urge to relapse and handle their cravings better. 

In treating addiction, it is best to work with patients in figuring out the treatments that work best for them. Some patients might be comfortable considering acupuncture as an aid to their treatment, while some are not. In any case, discussing the best treatment options with the patient is vital in curing addiction. 


What are the risks and side effects of acupuncture?

There are very few complications that result from acupuncture. Most of the problems that arise with the use of acupuncture involve unsterile needles and the wrong implementation of the treatment. 

acupuncture for addiction

These complications include:

  • Infections
  • Damaged organs
  • Damage to the lungs
  • Damage to the central nervous system

You should NEVER try acupuncture by yourself. It takes a licensed acupuncturist to execute this treatment properly, and taking matters into your own hands may not only worsen your symptoms but have other adverse side effects as well. 


How much does acupuncture cost?

The cost of acupuncture largely depends on where you live. Depending on the state, practitioners may also charge you anywhere from $60 per session to $125 per session. 


How can I get acupuncture?

To get acupuncture, you must look for a licensed acupuncturist. A licensed acupuncturist has LAc after their name. An acupuncturist must pass the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam or complete the NCCAOM program in the foundations of Oriental medicine acupuncture, and biomedicine. You can also find them online.

acupuncture therapy for drug addiction

If you are or you know anyone who is having a difficult time coping with alcohol addiction and would like to explore non-medical treatment for addictions, such as acupuncture, feel free to visit Restore Health & Wellness Center located at 6918 Owensmouth Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303. You can also contact us at 888-979-4570 or visit our website at

restore disclaimer

Insurance can cover up to 100% of treatment

We Accept Most Major Insurance Companies. We accept other forms of payment to make treatment affordable for yourself or a loved one

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