Benefits of Acupuncture for Addiction


Acupuncture is an accepted form of treatment worldwide for various clinical conditions. The method of acupuncture has gained popularity in Western countries since China 2500 BC as an alternative and complementary therapeutic intervention, and this technique continues to grow in popularity. Acupuncture was developed to control human bodily functions by the “meridian” and “Qi and blood” systems. As a result, the technique is believed to alleviate a multitude of ailments. As a luxury drug and alcohol rehab in South Florida that offers both acupuncture and addiction treatment, we wanted to share more about the benefits of acupuncture for addiction recovery.


What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles through the skin at certain points on the body. Acupuncture started in China approximately 3,000 years ago. The first documentation of acupuncture is in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which dates back to 100 BCE.1

By this time, the Qi (the vital energy or life force) flow channels were established with traditions that were likely passed down through generations. Gradually, acupuncture was honed, and inserted points on the body became more specific until it became standard practice used in China alongside massage, diet, and herbs.1

Acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain, as well as overall wellness and stress management. According to Chinese practice, acupuncture’s primary purpose is to balance the flow of energy or life force (chi or qi) believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in the body. This is why acupuncture points on the body are also referred to as meridian points.

By inserting needles into specific points in the body or along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that the balance of your energy flow will be restored.

In contrast, many Western practitioners view acupuncture points as places that stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissues. Some believe that this stimulation adheres to the body’s natural painkilling response, possibly replacing medicine.

Common acupuncture uses include the treatment of:


  • Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Dental pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches, including tension headaches and migraines
  • Labor pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Respiratory disorders, such as allergic rhinitis
  • Tennis elbow


Can Acupuncture Help With Addiction?

Although research on acupuncture for addiction is still in its infancy, this practice isn’t necessarily new. The use of acupuncture for drug addiction began in the early 1970s in China when a physician observed the practice’s ability to reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms in people with severe addictions. Acupuncturists found that inserting needles in meridian points could reduce cortisol levels and balance dopamine levels, decreasing the severity of withdrawals and cravings common in drug and alcohol detox.

National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) or AcuDetox is a specific kind of acupuncture-addiction treatment developed to ease drug detox symptoms and make clients more comfortable and likely to complete treatment. Developed in 1985 by NADA, it’s believed that AcuDetox is an effective form of treatment for addiction recovery, particularly as a relapse prevention tool and a complement to other therapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Additionally, acupuncture is both a safe and cost-effective treatment that can have a multitude of benefits for individuals undergoing drug or alcohol addiction treatment. Benefits of acupuncture for addiction include:


  • Decreased anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Decreased digestive issues
  • Eased drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Eased physical pain
  • Eased unpleasant withdrawal symptoms
  • Improved emotional regulation
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased chances of staying sober after addiction treatment
  • Increased energy
  • Increased patient retention in rehab
  • Reduced muscle aches and cramps
  • Reduced risk of relapse during and after treatment
  • Reduced cravings during detox
  • Regulated sleep


While it’s not fully understood how acupuncture for addiction works, it’s believed to affect the dopaminergic system in the brain. Dopaminergic pathways are involved in both physiological and behavioral functions like movement, cognition, reward, and motivation, among others. Drugs positively reinforced continued use by targeting this area of the brain and inducing feelings of pleasure and euphoria.

Acupuncture is believed to decrease the positive and negative reinforcements of addiction, therefore reducing the individual’s desire to use drugs or drink.2 Additionally, using acupuncture for addiction is also believed to decrease the withdrawal properties of drugs, such as dysphoria and stress, that may reinforce drug use (or relapse). Acupuncture is believed to alleviate withdrawals by inhibiting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons and increasing the release of dopamine, which can improve mood and alleviate withdrawals.2


Finding Acupuncture for Addiction Near Me

Not all addiction treatment facilities offer acupuncture as a form of addiction treatment, but our luxury drug and alcohol rehab in Palm Beach does. Used in tandem with our high-end rehab programs, our facility offers acupuncture addiction treatment as one of our a la carte supplements for addiction.


For more information about our luxury addiction treatment in Palm Beach and how we can support you or a loved one in recovery, call Seaside Palm Beach anytime at 561-677-9374 or send us your contact information, and one of our admission specialists will reach out to you.



  1. NCBI – Acupuncture for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction
  2. Yale School of Medicine – Ear Acupuncture: A Tool for Recovery


Related Reading:

How to Become an Addiction Counselor

Why Is Prescription Painkiller Addiction So Common?


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