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Acupuncture for Addiction

Addiction is a serious, chronic dependence on a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is damaging psychological and physical health. Symptoms of addiction often include declining physical health, irritation, fatigue, and an inability to cease using a substance or engaging in a behavior. Addiction can lead to behavior that strains relationships and inhibits daily activities. Ceasing to use the substance or engage in the behavior often leads to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, iriritability, nausea, vomiting, and shaking.

Addiction treatment can be difficult, but it is effective. The best form of treatment depends on the substance and the presentation of the addiction, which varies from person to person. However, treatment often involves counseling, medication, and community support.

Acupuncture can be used as a complementary treatment in addiction recovery programs. Acupuncture is both safe and cost-effective. When combined with other forms of treatment, it can benefit those suffering from a substance addiction.


Acupuncture for Addiction Recovery

Acupuncture can increase the body's ability to process toxins accumulated from substance use by improving circulation of Qi and blood and enhancing the function of internal organs. Acupuncture is also very effective in diminishing the withdrawal symptoms, such as iriritability, nausea, vomiting, and shaking, by stimulating endorphin release. Endorphins are the natural chemicals produced by the body which relieve pain and increase a sense of relaxation and contentment. When inserted into the body, acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to regulate the amount of natural endorphins in the body and helps calm and relax the mind, enhance the ability to concentrate, minimize anxiety, and alleviate.

Acupuncture is also believed to affect the dopaminergic system in the brain. Acupuncture decreases the amount of dopamine released when the substance is used. Without the surge of dopamine, the person’s feelings of pleasure and euphoria induced by dopamine is diminished, and he/she is less likely to be dependent on the use of substances.1


Acupuncture Can:

  • Decrease cravings for substance
  • Reduce withdrawal symptoms
  • Decrease anxiety and stress
  • Help regulate emotions
  • Relieve tension and physical pain
  • Improve overall well-being

Acupuncture / Ear Acupuncture Procedure

Each acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of sterile, disposable needles into specific acupuncture points on the body. Usually a combination of body acupuncture points and ear points (NADA protocol) are used to influence the organs and energetic pathways associated with substance abuse.


NADA Protocol

In 1974 the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in the South Bronx started the first outpatient clinic offering acudetox. In 1985, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) was established to promote education and training in the use of this detox protocol.

NADA Protocol

NADA protocol involves insertion of acupuncture needles into 5 specific locations in the ear that stimulate the lung, liver, kidney and nervous system. These points proved to be extremely effective in easeing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.

The 5 ear points used in NADA protocol are:

  • Lung: improves lung function and alleviates feelings of grief.
  • Liver: removes toxins from the liver and blood, and curbs aggression.
  • Kidney Point: repairs vital organs and eases fears.
  • Shen Men: decreases anxiety – also known as the “spirit gate.”
  • Sympathetic (Autonomic): promotes relaxation and soothing of the nervous system.

The acupuncture needles will be remained for 20-30 minutes. After removing the needles, small ear pellets or ear seeds made of Chinese herb Wang Bu Liu Xing (Semen Vaccariae) will be taped to the ear and remained in place for couple days to maintain the stimulation. The patients will be advised to apply gentle pressure on the pellets to stimulate the acupuncture points on the ear when a craving hits.

Acupuncture treatment is painless, leaving most patients relaxed, with increased energy and mental focus, and is often complemented by an herbal formula to promote relaxation and assist the body's recovery from the harmful effects of the abused substance.


Treatment Plan

The degree of addiction to subtance, the length of time substance has been used, and the patient's will-power will largely determine the number of treatments needed. Other important considerations include the individual unique constitution and the function of the primary organ systems responsible for detoxification, including the lung, liver, kidney and spleen.

Generally, 4 to 6 acupuncture treatments during the first two weeks are required to help reducing the craving and initiating detoxification process. Although some patients may notice improvement after 5 to 10 sessions of acupuncture treatment, most patients need more sessions to see differences.

Once the physiological and psychological dependence on the substance has been reduced, monthly follow-up treatments for 6 to 12 months are recommended to consolidate the effects. If life stressors or complicating circumstances are in play, then additional treatments may be necessary to preserve the positiv results.

Although acupuncture proves to have great potential in aiding patients who are struggling with addiction, it should be understood that it is not a cure.

To be truly successful in overcoming addiction, individuals should seek out additional mental health treatment, such as medically-tapered detoxification, counseling, and community support.



Acupuncture Wellness Center offers a special package deal to maximize the effect of acupuncture treatment for substance addiction while decreasing the financial burden for patients.

This special deal provides a 30 minute treatment using NADA protocol for $20 per session. The patients will be treated ideally 2-3 times a week.

Advanced payment for weekly or monthly treatments is required to encourage the patients to receive regular and consistent treatments.

For more information, please contact us.

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