Since 1974, acupuncture has been used successfully in the USA to help people overcome addiction. This was the year when an acupuncture detoxification clinic was opened in Lincoln Memorial Hospital in the Bronx, NY. The treatment is simple—five needles in the the outer part of each ear, left in place for 30 to 45 minutes. The result—a substantial raise in endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, as well as in increase in relaxation and feelings of well being. The effect is a marked reduction of cravings for drugs of all kinds, especially when treatments are repeated over a course of time.
I took a course in the Lincoln Memorial technique when I was in acupuncture school and another in 2016. I have also treated people with addictions in group settings and in my own clinic. In the Lincoln Memorial clinic, clients sit together in a large room and enjoy the relaxing effect of the treatments. Counseling is also available. The group treatments and the counseling enhance the effects of the acupuncture.
These group treatments are not always available everywhere. If they are not, they can be administered individually in various acupuncture clinics. It is best to call to see if the acupuncturist does this kind of work.
At Lincoln Memorial, treatments are given on a daily basis until the client is clean.This high frequency of treatment is not usually available or practical in most settings, but even less frequent treatments are very helpful.The clients then receive treatments a couple of times per week for a while to make sure they stay that way. The same protocol is suggested for alcoholics and for users of hard drugs. I suggest to my patients that they seek counseling and join a twelve-step program–NA or AA. This ensures that while the acupuncture is reducing the physical craving, the addict is also receiving psychological and emotional support.