Acupuncture Therapy to Support Addiction Recovery

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, the same techniques and practices are used to treat a long list of symptoms, ranging from headaches to chemotherapy induced nausea.

While members of the scientific community continue to debate the long-term effectiveness of acupuncture techniques for treating pain and illness, more Americans than ever are looking at acupuncture as way of enhancing their overall well-being. According to data collected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly 3.5 million Americans sought acupuncture treatment to enhance their healing process in 2012.

One of the most popular modern uses of acupuncture is as a component of holistic drug addiction treatment. Learning more about the history of this technique and its benefits can help you or your loved ones determine if acupuncture should play a role in recovery.

Acupuncture therapy

History of Acupuncture

The earliest historical references to acupuncture appear in Huangdi Neijing, an ancient Chinese medical text that is believed to have been published around 100 B.C. Acupuncture techniques continued to evolve in China, gaining popularity and giving birth to practitioners across the country.

This evolution took major steps during the 16th century, thanks to the publication of The Great Compendium for Acupuncture and Moxibustion under the Ming dynasty. This 120-volume encyclopedic text included many of the techniques used in modern acupuncture.

In recent history, acupuncture?s worldwide popularity took a new turn in 1949, following the rise of Mao Zedong and a cultural revolution. During this period, Eastern medical techniques such as acupuncture were re-codified under the umbrella term ?Traditional Chinese Medicine.? As a result, clinical research into the effectiveness of acupuncture in China skyrocketed. At the same time, the practice began to gain greater popularity in the West.

In 1971, a New York Times reporter brought modern acupuncture into the mainstream by visiting China and publishing an article about his experience with the technique. By 1997, the National Institutes of Health officially recognized the medical value of acupuncture for certain conditions.

Types of Acupuncture Therapy

Acupuncture Therapy - TreatmentAcupuncture treatments seek to improve overall health and body wellness by stimulating specific points along the body?s surface. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these points were selected specifically to improve the flow of spiritual energy, referred to as ?qi? in original texts, throughout the body.

Modern acupuncturists instead focus on stimulating key points along the nervous system, also known as acupoints. By activating the body?s self-healing systems, modern acupuncture therapy has shown to help address common ailments such as pain, insomnia and poor digestion.


During a traditional acupuncture procedure, sterile needles are inserted into known acupoints. In modern acupuncture, the acupoints being targeted are related to the body?s nervous, immune, cardiovascular and digestive systems.

When patients visit an acupuncturist, they are asked to lay on a table. Next, the acupuncturist places fine needles into the patient?s acupoints. The needles are left anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes before they are carefully removed. Once the procedure is complete, patients often express a sense of deep relaxation.


Like traditional acupuncture, cupping techniques seek to address pain and other health problems by improving the flow of energy through the body. Instead of using needles, cupping techniques utilize special cups designed to create suction when attached to the skin.

When cups are applied to the skin, the heated air inside the cup cools and a vacuum is created. The suction caused by the cup also causes blood vessels to expand. Then the cup is left attached to the skin for approximately 3 minutes.

Modern cupping techniques rely on similar principles as those of deep-tissue massage. Famous recipients of modern cupping include Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history.

Acupuncture in Addiction Treatment

While the exact science behind acupuncture is still up for debate, numerous studies and reviews have emphasized the health benefits of these techniques. Recent research, including studies published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine and East Asian Archives of Psychiatry, has demonstrated the advantages of incorporating acupuncture into treatment for opioid addiction, in particular. Studies report that the technique can help lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms and assist in the treatment of opioid-based depression.

At TTC Care, based in the West Palm Beach area, we approach every patient?s condition from a holistic perspective. We understand that there are physical, mental and spiritual aspects of every substance abuse disorder. That?s why our board-certified therapists and physicians allow patients to incorporate acupuncture into their personalized recovery plan.

You can learn more about the use of holistic therapies in addiction treatment by contacting our admissions counselors today. They are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns and see if you?d like to move forward with treatment for yourself or a loved one.

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