Acupuncture for Opioid and Substance Addiction Recovery

Overcoming Addiction with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, emotions originate internally from different organs inside the body. Conditions and events in the external world may provoke specific reactions but, ultimately, each person is responsible for the emotion generated.

Any addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, food, work, or other activity or substance, effectively blocks intelligence and suppresses healing abilities. Through these behaviors we choose to rely on the demands of
addiction to dictate our lives, rather than taking responsibility to conduct ourselves in a healthy, life-affirming way.

Is there a body/mind connection to willpower? According to the principles of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there is. The zhi represents willpower, drive, and determination. It manifests as the urge to persist in one’s efforts and, when in deficiency, feelings of defeat, pessimism, and depression may occur. Without strong willpower, or zhi, one may easily succumb to the temptations of addiction.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help cleanse and re-balance your body and mind to manage cravings and overcome a variety of addictions, and can help manage cravings. The safe space provided during treatment is both literal and metaphorical.

Several approaches may be used when treating addictions, generally starting with therapies that help cleanse and balance. Sometimes a vague, uneasy sensation takes over after or during the process of releasing an addiction. Perhaps for the workaholic patient, it is strange and alarming to experience leisure time. Addicts require fortitude to find replacements for the dependence on substances or addictive behaviors. This is why willpower, or zhi, needs treatment to provide support and determination to discover the power within oneself–a universal necessity for overcoming any addiction.

To aid your transformation from addiction and addictive behaviors to healthier practices, try focusing on routine. Routine provides stability, and a new routine is necessary to break old habits. If your first thought
in the morning is to reach for a cigarette, replace that action with another, healthier ritual.

The replacement ritual could be anything from reaching for warm water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne to refresh your system, or singing your favorite song or stating out loud your plans for the day. As long as the action is positive and consistent, it will serve your new routine and changing thought processes.

Deep breathing with visualization can also strengthen willpower and be used as a tool to curb hunger and cravings. Most patients report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture treatment alone, but special herbs, healing foods, and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the treatments.

Everyone experiences addiction in different ways with varying symptoms, and treatment is adjusted to the individual needs of the person seeking treatment. Some respond better to a sudden, jarring change in habits, whereas others may require a slower process to adjust to the changes that must be made. At some point during the detoxification process, the next step necessary to your healing will be addressed, helping to ensure that your strengthened willpower and emotional balance lasts a lifetime.

Are there cravings or an addiction you are working to overcome?

Call today to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you reach optimum health!

The Opioid Addiction Epidemic and How Acupuncture Can Help

The United States loses approximately one hundred lives a day as a consequence of the current opioid epidemic–addiction and abuse of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. If projections prove
correct, another half a million more casualties may be on the way over the next ten years. Opioid overdose now ranks as the number one killer for Americans younger than 50 years old.

Opioids are a class of powerful drugs used primarily as a treatment for pain and provide relief in the most excruciating of cases. Morphine, codeine, heroine, fentanyl, oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) are all classified as opioids.

The High Risk of Addiction to Opioids

Unfortunately, the risk of addiction with these drugs is high because opioids are so effective and can give users a feeling of euphoria. Short term use of these drugs is the safest option as it lowers the chances of developing a drug tolerance.

Developing a tolerance means a patient must take higher and higher doses of the drug to experience the same euphoric effects. This deadly cycle of increasing drug amounts can destroy lives and lead to a potentially deadly overdose.

Treatment and Recovery from Opioid Addition

In cases where an opioid addict undergoes detoxification, withdrawal symptoms often make the process a terribly difficult experience. Signs and symptoms associated with withdrawal from opioids include: pain, intense emotional anguish, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, hypertension, tachycardia and seizures.

Treatment options for rehabilitation generally include a gradual reduction from the drug. Special drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine can help assuage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. These drugs do not produce euphoric effects and have a lower risk of addiction.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Opioid Dependence

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine treats opioid addiction in a holistic fashion. Not only is the physical body addressed, but the heart and mind as well. The heart represents the emotions, and the mind refers to the logical, cognitive functions.

A great start to assisting patients during the rehabilitation process is the utilization of a simple and effective ear acupuncture protocol. The treatment consists of ten acupuncture needles applied to five points on each ear. After needle insertion, all a patient needs to do is sit quietly in a cozy chair for at least 20 minutes, up to one hour.

The selection of ear points includes lung, shen men, autonomic point, liver and kidney. The lung point helps maintain an even, steady breathing pattern. This helps keep emotions such as grief and sadness from becoming an overwhelming burden. Additionally, it supports the respiratory and cardiovascular system. It is particularly useful for addictions related to smoking.

Shen men addresses the stress, anxiety, anguish and depression associated with opioid withdrawal. It also reduces the physical pain which may occur during the process. The autonomic point works on the nervous system by balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic system. The former calms bodily functions, while the latter speeds things up.

The liver point aids the liver organ in cleansing the blood and removing toxic material. The kidney point is similar in function, as the kidney also plays a major role in ridding the body of harmful substances. A key
difference between the points is the emotions they treat. The liver point works to reduce anger and frustration, while the kidney point helps to alleviate fear.

Some patients may require additional acupuncture points. For example, a person manifesting signs and feelings of rage could benefit with the addition of an ear point called limbic system. It reduces aggressive, compulsive behavior which may lead to violence.

The NADA Protocol and Addiction

This particular auricular therapy is known as the NADA protocol. Developed in the 1970s due to the efforts of Dr. Michael Smith at the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York, NADA stands for the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. Dr. Smith created the NADA protocol as a treatment to help many suffering with heroin addiction in the local community.

The success of the NADA program helped recovering addicts lower their chances of recidivism and increase their chances of entering society as healthy, drug-free individuals. In 1996, the World Health Organization
declared acupuncture as a viable method to assist patients in withdrawing from chemical dependencies.

Three reasons why acupuncture receives such high accolades for its success in treating opioid addictions, and other substances as well, is due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness and absence of negative side effects. It is also safe for patients of virtually any age group, and in most cases, for pregnant women.

Sometimes it is not only the patients who need treatment, but family members and loved ones who also suffer as their loved ones go through the withdrawal process. Application of the NADA protocol is safe for them and may help in dealing with their heavy emotions. It is support for the support team, so to speak.

With an estimated 2.5 million people dealing with opioid addiction, safe and effective methods are needed more than ever to curb this national public health crisis. Whether the addiction is from doctor prescribed
opiates, or illegal street drugs like heroine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine provides treatment.

Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic

A recent 2017 White Paper “Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management” investigated acupuncture as part of a solution to the current opioid epidemic in the US.

The paper provides evidence that acupuncture is effective for managing pain. This applies to pain from numerous medical conditions including migraine headache, low back pain, neck pain, nausea resulting from
chemotherapy and others. The author referenced several scientific studies in order to reach this conclusion.

There are two other important reasons to utilize acupuncture. One is the relatively low cost of the treatment, which can save money for patients and insurers. The other reason is the risk of negative side effects occurring is minimal, especially when compared with the adverse events associated with some medical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs. Acupuncture is a safe procedure when performed by a qualified practitioner.

The paper reaches the conclusion that acupuncture is appropriate and useful as an adjunct therapy to treat and rehabilitate those contending with an opioid addiction. The FDA recently recommended in May of 2017 that non-pharmacologic options be explored before doctors prescribe extended-release and long-acting opioids, in an effort to reduce the problems associated with opioid dependence.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, hospitals will also provide non-pharmacologic options to help patients manage their pain. This mandate was set by the Joint Commission, a prominent, non-profit organization which certifies health care organizations in the United States. Acupuncture meets the requirements necessary to satisfy this mandate.

Source: Abel Bolash, Bonnie M., et. al., “Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management .” The Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force, 2017, http://www.asacu.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Acupunctures-Role-in-Solving-the-Opioid-Epidemic_Final_September_20_2017.pdf.

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