Acupuncture originated in China and is the practice of inserting needles into the skin in specific locations to relieve stress and heal maladies. Acupuncture is used as a complementary and alternative treatment for a number of physical and mental diseases, including drug and alcohol addiction. In recent years, Acupuncture has become a complementary treatment offered in addiction recovery programs.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The idea behind Acupuncture is that the human body has lines of energy or meridians spread throughout the nervous system, which can be stimulated to increase the flow of life energy, also known as Qi. It is also meant to improve organ function. One of the most popular forms of Acupuncture is auricular or ear Acupuncture. It is most often used to help individuals in recovery. The professional practitioner inserts a thin needle into the individual’s ear and targets 5 specific areas:

  • Lung Point: improves lung function and alleviates feelings of grief.
  • Liver Point: removes toxins from the liver and blood, and curbs aggression.
  • Kidney Point: repairs vital organs and eases fears.
  • Shen Men: decreases anxiety – also known as the “spirit gate.”
  • The Autonomic (or Sympathetic) Point: promotes relaxation and soothing of the nervous system.

Acupuncture and Addiction

So the question is, can Acupuncture help with addiction recovery? Proponents of Acupuncture claim that it can, including:

  • Helping reduce cravings
  • Increasing patient retention in rehab
  • Easing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms
  • Easing physical pain
  • Helping the person regulate emotions
  • Decreasing anxiety and stress
  • Helping regulate sleep

Acupuncture is safe as well as cost-effective. When it is combined with other forms of treatment, such as individual therapy, group counseling, and support groups, it can benefit those suffering from a substance addiction. Acupuncture is not used as a stand alone treatment for drug addiction.  It is used in combination with other recovery strategies, such as psychotherapy, 12-step programs, group counseling, or other alternative and complementary treatments, such as art or music therapy, meditation, nutritional counseling, exercise programs, or yoga. Holistic recovery centers, as well as other rehabs, may incorporate acupuncture into their treatment programs. This alternative treatment can be a part of an individualized treatment plan that addresses a person’s specific needs for recovery and mental health.

Research has been conducted on the effectiveness of Acupuncture in treating addiction, and the results are mixed. It appears to be more effective in treating certain substance addictions, but not others. According to one study, Acupuncture helped to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, but it didn’t benefit those withdrawing from alcohol or cocaine.

Despite the conflicting evidence, many people find acupuncture helpful while recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Due to the high level of safety and the lack of adverse effects, there seems to be little risk in using it as a complementary form of addiction treatment.


Hired Power works to help your family bring recovery home. Wherever home may be, recovery can find you there. Our compassionate family provides recovery services and recovery planning to help families focus on healing, one step at a time. For more information, call us today at 1 800-910-9299.