Acupuncture for Substance Abuse Rehabilitation

Acupuncture for Substance Abuse Rehabilitation

Acupuncture for Substance Abuse Rehabilitation

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine developed in China thousands of years ago. Acupuncture is done by placing needles under the skin in specific places, called Meridians. These locations are connected to organs and pressure points within the body. Traditional acupuncture places needles all over the body. Practitioners can also place needles only in the ear  also connecting to the same organs and pressure points.

Acupuncture is thought to relieve physical and emotional discomfort. Practitioners believe that when the pressure points are touched, the body releases Qi, or life energy. Life energy is believed to encourage better mental and physical functioning. Acupuncture is inexpensive when compared to other treatments, but works best when combined with individual therapy, group therapy or other forms of support.

Practitioners believe that acupuncture can reduce cravings, minimize relapse, decrease anxiety and relieve pain from withdrawals. Studies are limited on the reasons why acupuncture works well for some substance related disorders. The general thought is that acupuncture decreases the positive and negative reinforcements of drug use.


The brain rewards continued drug use by increasing dopamine and causing a feeling of euphoria or relieving withdrawals. Practitioners theorize that acupuncture inhibits the reward system when drugs are consumed. For this reason, it is believed that acupuncture reduces continued use in a recovering addict.


Acupuncturists and experts are careful not to make claims that acupuncture is a cure for addiction. For this reason, acupuncture is not recommended to be a stand alone treatment method for drug and alcohol use. However, some research has shown that acupuncture has promising results for treatment of alcohol and opiate use disorders. Other research has mixed feelings about using acupuncture to treat cocaine use disorders.


A good way to see if acupuncture works for you is to try it! Acupuncture is less expensive than other alternative treatment methods. Acupuncture does involve needles, but is generally pain free because the needles are very thin. Acupuncture is well known to provide relief from stress, anxiety and pain. This treatment also encourages relaxation and calmness.


Other reported benefits of acupuncture include:


  • Regulated sleep
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved immune system
  • Better digestion
  • Chronic pain relief
  • Relief from depression


The benefits of acupuncture will aide in your recovery efforts. Acupuncture can provide relief from pain and depression, which can be a barrier to long-term recovery. Sleep regulation is a common complaint for those in early recovery that can be treated by acupuncture. Acupuncture has been around for a long time and when combined with group or individual treatment it offers great benefits for substance abuse rehabilitation.