Addiction is something I understand very well. My grandfather and my uncle both died of alcoholism - my grandfather of a tragic accident related to alcohol and my uncle of his 3rd alcoholic stroke at 36 years of age. If you're addict, your addiction touches the lives of everyone in your circle whether you realize it or not and sometimes the effects can reverberate for generations.
Growing up around that drug and alcohol abuse was never on the table for me, but my mother always warned me that "addiction runs in the family." While I don't agree that addiction is a genetic trait, I can tell you that sugar is my drug of choice and I struggle with it all the time. After an eating disorder in high school which led to digestive issues, I still struggle with emotional eating at times and sugar really does feel like an addiction to me. I struggle to stay away from it, I crave it if I'm around it, I feel guilty when I overindulge in it. Its a vicious cycle. But it is a cycle that can be broken, and I feel very fortunate to practice a medicine (and partake of that medicine of course!) that can actually help to calm the symptoms of withdrawal, soothe stress hormones, change neurological patterns and support moving past all types of addiction and substance abuse.
Addiction affects millions of Americans each year. Whether it's substance abuse from alcohol, nicotine or other drugs, addiction is a disease that takes treatment and commitment to overcome. Many times, rehabilitation doesn’t work the first time, but takes many tries to really kick a habit for good. Acupuncture has been proven to be an effective alternative option that can help treat addiction.
A study done by researchers at Yale University found that around 55 percent of cocaine addicts seeking rehab who were treated with auricular acupuncture were tested clean during their last week of treatment compared to only 23.5 percent that did not. Auricular acupuncture involves the placement of five needles in the outer part of each ear, left in place for about 30 minutes. These points on the body specifically are focused on to treat addiction. These points result in a release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller. When this happens, cravings can decrease.
According to the Huffington Post, more than 2,000 drug and alcohol treatment programs in the U.S. have used ear acupuncture as part of their treatment plans. Ear acupuncture, known as micro-acupuncture, has been proven effective in treating and helping curb addiction. Lincoln Hospital in New York delivered 100 acupuncture treatments a day for over 35 years as a part of their substance disorder program, finding patient’s anxiety and agitation were reduced, as well as reaching patients who were reluctant to attend treatment programs.
The American Cancer Society also acknowledges acupuncture as a method for quitting smoking. Acupuncture treatment can help reduce symptoms of withdrawal such as cravings, irritability, jitters and anxiety. A study from the University of Oslo, Norway, found that acupuncture reduced the desire to smoke as well as reduced the craving for the flavor of cigarettes for up to five years after treatment.
Acupuncture works by addressing the body as a whole and getting to the root of the problem. Each acupuncture point is based on the meridian system, the body’s natural energy system in which Qi flows through. When there is a blockage in this system, the body cannot function properly. Acupuncture points work to release these blockages and return the body back to balance and health.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.