Substance Abuse: Acupuncture, What Works
and What Does Not
particularly when applied to the external ear, has proven valuable in managing
substance abuse problems and reducing the need for prescription narcotic pain
medications. In the treatment of opium and heroin addiction, acupuncture
studies by Wen as early as 1973 have shown a success rate as high as 100
percent in relieving the symptoms of withdrawal.
has helped patients withdraw not only from opiates but also from alcohol and
other addictive drugs.
the following carefully conducted studies.
- In a 1985 study by Clavel of cigarette
addiction, acupuncture was compared to the use of nicotine gum. Using a
newly discovered acupoint (tien mi), as well as traditional points (primarily in the ear),
acupuncturists helped 8 percent of patients to stop smoking for more than
a year, while use of nicotine gum helped 12 percent to stop smoking.
- For a 1987 controlled study on hard-core
alcoholics in Minnesota, funded by the NIH, a group that received
acupuncture had half as many drinking episodes and admissions to detox
centers as did a control group, which received sham acupuncture.
"Sham" or placebo acupuncture involves placing needles in areas
that are not actual acupuncture points or applying pressure at points
without the actual insertion of a needle.
- During a 1993 study by Dr. Arthur Margolin and
colleagues of cocaine addiction, addicts were given acupuncture treatment,
or conventional pharmacotherapy (consisting of either amantidine or
desipramine), or placebo therapy. Of those receiving acupuncture, 44
percent were abstinent from cocaine by the end of the eight-week trial,
compared to 15 percent taking amantidine, 26 percent taking desipramine,
and 13 percent on placebo therapy.
- From a 1994 study by Dr. Douglas S. Lipton of
crack cocaine addicts, acupuncture was as effective as conventional drug
treatment of substance abuse, the best clinical evidence of the effectiveness
of acupuncture is for narcotic addiction, then alcohol. Acupuncture is clearly
useful as an adjuvant therapy in the treatment of substance abuse and drug
dependency, and appears to be effective as a primary therapy.
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BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R.
permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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