Acupuncture has been widely accepted as a safe treatment for chronic pain, relief of asthma, arthritis, nausea, and morning sickness by medical professionals across the globe for generations. But once brushed off by the Western medical community as a recovery method, acupuncture therapy is now being used as a safe and effective treatment for addiction, and is practiced in a number of addiction rehab centers around the world.
What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is an ancient alternative healing therapy that has been practiced for more than two millennia. The practice is based on the idea of qi, or energy, which flows throughout the human body. When special needles penetrate the skin at very specific points along qi meridians, or energy paths, they stimulate nerve points. The result is an improved flow of energy and relief from a number of ailments, ranging from nausea to back pain.
How acupuncture helps addiction recovery. While the exact reasons are still sometimes disputed, acupuncture can stimulate several neurotransmitters in the brain, some of which are badly compromised from substance abuse and addiction.
Serotonin, dopamine and GABA levels, which plummet during withdrawal, may rise during an acupuncture session, helping recovering addicts overcome the depression, anxiety and sleeplessness that occur during the withdrawal period.
Acupuncture can also be a valuable asset to addiction therapy. For anxious and distrustful patients, the non-verbal, relaxing exchange between them and their therapists can build a sense of trust and well-being. And acupuncture’s calming effect helps clients relax and open up about their fears and underlying reasons for substance abuse.
In addition to its calming, grounding effect on the mind, acupuncture also offers pain relief from withdrawal, particularly among clients addicted to opiates and alcohol. Researchers have found that the therapy releases several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which help block pain signals.
While acupuncture may not be a physiological cure for drug addiction, it does have a soothing, relaxing effect which is extremely helpful to people experiencing any kind of lifestyle change, especially a change of the magnitude of drug withdrawal. However, to truly beat drug addiction, individuals need to learn to make decisions based on their own sense of self-worth and a confidence that they can change their environment.