Your journey to better health

Acupuncture for Addiction

Almost everyone reading this has a friend, family member or co-worker that struggles from addiction. Perhaps, you might not even be aware that someone you know struggles from an addiction of some sort. Sometimes it is obvious, but most cases aren’t so apparent unless you pay careful attention to the signs. Chances are, most people you know struggling with an addiction are not open to talking about it, and they do a good job of hiding their habit unless they are hanging out with their addict friends. Often times, an addict will not confess they have a problem until they have already gone past the point of no return. Meaning, they have done so much damage to their physical and mental/emotional being that even after they quit they will still have strong urges to use or they will have certain mental and physical conditions that they may never fully recover from as a result of long-term abuse.

The good news is that for those who are willing to seek help, acupuncture can be a very effective treatment method for helping the person reduce cravings, detoxify their blood and organs, and help return them to better mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. People who are coerced into treatment tend to make minimal progress to recovery, in my experience. That is why the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous is “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” This effective system is based around the idea that addicts must be aware of the damage they have done to themselves and other around them. If they are not ready to admit they have a problem, then AA is not for them. I find this to be true with acupuncture for smoking, drugs, alcohol and even for food addiction/cravings.
In Chinese medicine, the Stomach organ network is said to be that which has an appetite for earthly delights. All things that give us pleasure, not just food, can fit into this category. Many addicts often have an exuberance of Stomach Fire, as this fuels their passion and desire to consume things that bring them pleasure. The animal of the zodiac that goes with the Stomach is the dragon. Think of a fire-breathing dragon that consumes everything in its path. It can’t help itself. The excessive “dragon-like” human being is much like this in life. They might easily give into peer pressure because they have a hard time saying “no,” or they are just open to the idea of trying things that can make them feel good (even if they are aware the long-term consequences might lead to depression or other harm to the body).
I was fortunate to have a chance to intern at Hooper Detoxification Center in Portland, OR when I was still a student. I went there once a week for 4 hour shifts for about 9 months. It is a short-term addiction program for people who are willing to go past Step 1 and do something about their problem. About 10-12 people a day are allowed to voluntarily check themselves in for about 10-14 days of daily treatment. Most of these people came in off the streets still high on their drug of choice. We would feed them, take their blood pressure, pulse, look at their tongue and ask them a handful of questions about their addiction. Then we would do a simple needle protocol in the ear to help them begin the process of detoxification of the vital organs along with reducing their cravings and helping to calm their spirit and nervous system. I can tell you what I witnessed every week was powerful. It didn’t matter if the person was addicted to cocaine, oxycontin, alcohol or any other drug you can name. The acupuncture worked! When people came in off the streets, most were still high on their drug of choice and the energy in the room was always chaotic. To witness the shift in energy week after week for 9 months was truly amazing. Every week the energy would shift to a more calm, peaceful one within minutes of everyone having needles placed in their ears. Prior to the insertion of the needles, the room would be loud, people would be fidgety, and overall it would feel somewhat chaotic with each new group every week. 5 minutes after the needles were in, people that couldn’t stop talking became quiet, those that were fidgeting would often nod off for a quick nap, and overall the energy and spirit in the room would transform from negative to positive.
To this day, I still remember my weekly trip to the Hooper Detoxification Center. It is forever embedded in my memory as one of the most miraculous experiences I have encountered with acupuncture in a clinical setting. I highly suggest you mention this to any person you know who is openly struggling with addiction and is asking for help. It might be an idea they never thought of before, and it may just be the one that helps them the most to get their life back on track again.

2 Comments to Acupuncture for Addiction :

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Elizabeth on Friday, December 23, 2016 3:51 AM
I have a question, on which meridians do you work to calm the spirit? My story is gut problems, insomnia benzo addiction compliments of my doctor - I am now off the benzo but still with the gut problems and insomnia! I discovered that the roots of my problems are to be found in emotional neglect in childhood - my mother had postnatal depression.
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Marcie on Saturday, December 31, 2016 3:07 PM
Hi Elizabeth, First off, I sincerely apologize for my delayed response to your message - we have been operating at reduced hours due to the holidays. It sounds like you are doing lots of work to get yourself (mind, body, and spirit) to a better place - I know that is hard work, so congratulations for doing that work! To answer your question, most meridians/energy systems in Chinese Medicine have an effect on some aspect of our spirit (or "Shen" in Chinese Medicine terminology.) We have a blog about the different aspects of the Shen here: http://www.steppingstoneacu.com/blog/2014/05/03/What-is-the-Shen.aspx. Hoping that can help. While all meridians act on certain aspects of the spirit, the heart and pericardium meridians likely play a role for most issues of the emotions or the spirit. I wish you the best in your continued journey!

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