If you are one of the 7% of Americans who have vowed to quit smoking in 2015, I have some great news for you - Acupuncture for smoking cessation is a proven method for success!
Indeed, studies show that patients who participate in frequent Acupuncture as part of an addiction plan or program are 50% more successful than their counterparts who do not. 1.2.3.
With 3,000 years behind it, an array of studies from 1989-2011 confirming its value in treatment, and the ease of finding a provider these days (especially in Portland!) there are few barriers to utilizing acupuncture for smoking cessation, acupuncture for cravings, or acupuncture for withdrawal aside from picking up the phone or going online to book an appointment!
If you aren’t quite convinced, however, let me share some more about the nuts and bolts of this treatment to help ease your mind (or help convince someone you love) that Acupuncture for smoking cessation is one of the best things you can do to help reach this worthwhile goal.
When I was in school, learning addiction protocols and completing an internship in a detox program or facility were mandatory, and I remember my experience working at Hooper very fondly. It was an incredible experience because the change in my patients during group treatment was visible, immediate and powerful - in a mere 25 minutes I would see 40-45 patients at varying stages of drug and alcohol withdrawal go from twitching, itching and having a hard time just sitting period in their (hard plastic institutional and unforgiving) chairs to almost falling asleep from nothing more than 10 tiny needles in their ears.
In private practice, my patient’s have a very different - yet equally powerful - experience. After a detailed intake, patients lie down on a heated massage table face up and fully clothed to receive Acupuncture treatment in a private room. As with most Acupuncturists who treat smoking cessation, drug and alcohol withdrawl, and even food cravings for sugar addiction, I focus primarily on 5NP or 5 Needle Protocol.
The 5 Needle Protocol is a simple 10 point treatment - 5 acupoints in each ear - which, depending on the sensitivity of the patient, can be needled or stimulated using ear seeds or ear beads which provide acupressure. Usually, I prefer a combination of both - needles during treatment, and ear beads (tiny pin-head sized beads on a clear plastic sticker backing) as a take home therapy to enhance and prolongue the effects of treatment afterward.
Acupuncture for Addiction
The 5 points used are:
A few other points depending on personal constitution or additional health concerns are added, usually in the hands and feet though sometimes forearm and lower leg areas as well. After resting with the needles in for about 20 minutes, the needles are removed, ear beads placed, and gentle foot reflexology or neck massage is used to help integrate the physical and energetic together to end treatment.
How Much Treatment is Needed for Detox Acupuncture?
I personally find that most patients suffer the most acute withdrawal symptoms over the first two weeks after they quit smoking in particular. Research shows that 2-3 sessions per week provide the best results, but making it to sessions 3x/week is very difficult for most working adults to achieve.
I typically see patients 2x/week for the first 2-3 weeks (depending on the severity of their withdrawal) and then 1x/week thereafter for another month at which time we reassess frequency. Some people continue coming once a week for about 3 months, while others back off treatment to 1-2x/month at this point depending on withdrawal symptoms experienced (if any), how anxious about or how solid they feel with their control.
Does Acupuncture Interfere with other Smoking Cessation Methods such as Wellbutrin?
No. Acupuncture will not negatively interact with any other treatment for smoking cessation or withdrawal that you pursue - it can only enhance the effects!
Can Acupuncture Make Me Quit Smoking?
No. Acupuncture cannot make you quit. You have to come with the Will to do so, and preferrably a plan. If you do not have a plan, your Acupuncturist can help you devise one - but ultimately, you need both to be successful. Acupuncture can decrease the symptoms of withdrawal, decrease or eliminate cravings in some cases, and support the body in optimal function towards helping you be successful. It also provides accountability - sometimes just the knowledge that someone is going to ask you about it helps you stay on track with your goals!
Ready to Get Started?
Quitting smoking is widely regarded as one of the best things you can do for your health. From reducing stroke and heart attack risk to improving sex drive and energy, the list of benefits is quite long and compelling - and Acupuncture can help you get there successfully and long term.
If you want to know more, please read through my website and blog or contact me via email anytime. You can also book appointments 24/7 online - I hope to hear from you soon!
Yours in Health,
1. Christina S. Meade. "A randomized trial of transcutaneous electric acupoint stimulation as adjunctive treatment for opioid detoxification." Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 38, no. 1 (2010)
2. Milton L. Bullock “A large randomized placebo controlled study of auricular acupuncture for alcohol dependence” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 22, no. 2 (2002)
3. Michael Shwartz, PhD “The Value of Acupuncture Detoxification Programs in a Substance Abuse Treatment System” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 17, no.4 (1999)
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.