acupuncture and opioid addiction

Chinese health practitioners claim acupuncture can treat everything from migraines, anxiety, body pains, insomnia, and ease the psychological symptoms associated with opioid addiction.

Acupuncture — the practice of inserting needles into strategic pressure points of the body — has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

“[Acupuncture] is very helpful at mitigating the [psychological] side effects of withdrawal and helps to treat the underlying conditions people self-treat for,” said Cynthia Neipris, director of outreach at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

In 1972, Wen, a Chinese neurosurgeon, made an incidental discovery when a concussion patient was admitted to Kwong Wah Hospital. The 50-year-old patient was addicted to opioids and was given acupuncture anesthesia rather than local anesthesia before undergoing a cingulotomy, a surgery offered to people with substance use disorder. Upon waking, the patient claimed his withdrawal symptoms disappeared.

Following the discovery, acupuncturists began studying how it could be used as a treatment option for opioid addiction. In 2016, Chinese medical researchers submitted new findings to the East Asian Archives of Psychiatry.

In their study, they randomly assigned 60 drug users to either an acupuncture or a control group. The acupuncture group received 20 minutes of treatment, five times a week, for 21 days. The control group did not receive treatment.

At the end of the trial, participants who received acupuncture reported lower levels of depression, but their physical withdrawal symptoms remained unchanged.

Researchers conducted a second trial…(continue reading)