Acupuncture and Substance Abuse

Can Acupuncture Help with Substance Abuse?

Acupuncture is considered an alternative therapeutic method used to support people in developing relaxation and calming effects on the mind and body. Combined with substance abuse counseling and group therapy, acupuncture can be a vital way to reduce withdrawal symptoms and decrease future cravings. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use techniques such as acupuncture and massage to prevent disease and illness within the body. Find out how it can help people with substance abuse issues and how it is used to support recovery.


Acupuncture Benefits

Metal needles in acupuncture are inserted into the skin to restore balance in the body. An individual’s life force or qi flows through the body and provides energy, blood flow and a feeling of wellness. When the flow is disturbed or interrupted, illness or disease may be triggered. Certain meridians, or pathways, are represented throughout the body. A practitioner may use the following herbal remedies in addition to acupuncture:

  • Moxibustion (burning herbs near acupuncture point)
  • Massage
  • Rubbing, cupping or pressing around specific acupuncture points


Substance Abuse Support

Auricular acupuncture is popular among practitioners who treat people with substance abuse issues. Thin needles are inserted on points in the ear while the individual receiving treatment relaxes for 20-30 minutes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends ear placement in points which correspond with traditional points of kidneys, lungs, liver and sympathetic nervous system. A study in 1989 discovered the following regarding acupuncture and alcoholism:

  • 40 people with auricular acupuncture received treatment combined with substance abuse counseling
  • 40 others were only treated through substance abuse counseling
  • 21 of the 40 who received acupuncture with counseling completed the program while only 1 of 40 people who received only substance abuse counseling completed the program
  • 6 months after study ended, the individuals who received acupuncture and counseling were found to be twice as likely to remain sober (alcohol free)


Other Benefits

Some additional benefits to using acupuncture along with substance abuse counseling include relief of drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, development of a calming, relaxing effect on individuals with addiction issues and lowered rates of court appearances for individuals with similar charges sentenced to serve time.


Acupuncture combined with substance abuse counseling is a very effective way to support treatment of drug and alcohol use. The calm feelings produced along with relaxation effects can have a positive, long-lasting impact on individuals with addiction and reduce withdrawal symptoms as well as future cravings. Individuals interested in this type of therapeutic support may consider speaking with a treating physician about the possibility to receive acupuncture for treatment of substance and drug abuse issues.


If you or a loved one struggle with drugs and alcohol, individual, group and alternative therapies can be very effective in helping combat addiction. Take the first step in seeking help through The Villa. We are here to help guide you towards the right solution for your individual situation.