Posted by Steps to Recovery on December 12, 2012

For some alcoholics and addicts, acupuncture is useful for resisting cravings and avoiding relapse. I received a lot of acupuncture throughout the first 2+ years of my recovery, and it helped me tremendously in a number of ways. I am very grateful to have received acupuncture as a service provided through my recovery program, and know it has helped a number of my fellow recovering women as well.

Acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles into the skin at traditionally prescribed energy points. This is believed to balance the patient’s life force, or chi, which flows through 14 energy meridians. By puncturing strategic points along the patient’s meridians, the traditional acupuncturist aims to balance a person’s natural energy. Acupuncture can treat a number of things from illness to anxiety, allergies to cravings, boosting the immune system and so much more. Some specialists also believe that puncturing key points in the body stimulates muscles, nerves and other tissue. This light stimulus boosts blood flow and results in a release of natural pain killers in the body, providing a great deal of relief from all kinds of pain.

It is the release of these pain killers and endorphins that potentially helps alcoholics and addicts in recovery. With this boost of natural calming agents in the blood stream, an addict will find it less difficult to resist the temptation of relapse. Acupuncture causes withdrawal symptoms and cravings to become less severe. Some specialists even believe that acupuncture has the potential to eliminate toxins built up from substance abuse.

Although every acupuncturist has their own technique, which can last from just a few minutes up to an hour, each session includes the following elements: Puncturing – needles are thin enough that relatively little pain results from their insertion. Manipulation – after the needles are in place, the acupuncturist may lightly twirl them or apply heat, or perhaps use moxabustion, which is the practice of burning mugwart over the needle to influence bloodflow and qi. Removal – after a short time has passed, the needles are quickly and painlessly removed. The procedure is very relaxing and uncomplicated for the person receiving treatment.

For an addict or alcoholic seeking acupuncture treatment to assist in their recovery, it is important to keep in mind that everyone responds to treatments differently and in their own time. It might take a number of sessions to notice a difference or it might happen immediately. For me the difference was immediate and remarkable. I always looked forward to my acupuncture sessions as a regular part of my self care practice.

Have you tried acupuncture for recovery? What was your experience?