Acupuncture for addiction can help reduce cravings, ease physical pain, and decrease anxiety and stress. Can this holistic treatment help you?

There is more than one way to treat addiction.

So, if you’re suffering from addiction, you may have more options than you know. These can include things like exercise, psychological therapy, and detox.

But, one of the oldest and most effective treatments for addiction is acupuncture. Now, you might be scoffing right now. How could anyone expect poking needles into their body could help with addiction?

But it does. And that’s why we’re going to talk about why acupuncture for addiction works.

1. Acupuncture For Addiction: What Is It Anyway?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical art performed for centuries by natural physicians.

In The Matrix, when Morpheus and Trinity pull Neo from The Matrix, his body goes through an extreme withdrawal from virtual reality. This is not unlike addiction withdrawal. And in one montage scene, Morpheus is shown pulling very large needles out Neo’s body.

Now, the needles in acupuncture are not nearly as large as they are in The Matrix. In fact, they are smaller than most anything your doctor uses to administer shots.

In acupuncture, the doctor inserts very small gauge three-inch needles into your skin. These needles stimulate very specific points on your body.

The needles are so small, they don’t hurt. They are typically made of sterile surgical steel and are never re-used.

2. How Does It Work?

Acupuncture for addiction usually involves a special kind of acupuncture called auricular acupuncture. This is acupuncture on the earlobe.

This kind of acupuncture was invented by a Canadian Neuroscientist named Dr. Penfield. His theory was that the sensory parts of the brain are mapped to different parts of the body, especially the ear.

If you stimulate those particular points on the body, you will change how the brain feels, and how you feel.

He found that the practice of inserting a needle only a millimeter into the skin, a practice Chinese physicians have performed for ages, helped alleviate various neurological symptoms in patients. Among these symptoms were the symptoms of addiction. Cravings. Withdrawl. Profuse sweating. Nervousness. Irritation. Etc.

If you notice, the ear resembles an inverted fetus. And, according to acupuncturists, this is how you can tell, minimally, which part of the ear will treat which part of the body.

Another interesting correlation between acupuncture and the body’s reaction is the change in a person’s pulse. They discovered that certain parts of your ear directly affect your heart.

3. Can It Really Treat Addiction?

It really can! In 2002, a team of researchers conducted a study on six hundred and twenty cocain-dependent adults in four different clinics.

They found through urinalysis of the users that there was a significant reduction in cocaine use. The same reduction as in patients who attended counseling sessions.

So, acupuncture for addiction is really just as effective as counseling and you don’t have to spill your guts to a therapist to do it.

Of course, acupuncture is not a stand alone treatment. It should be done in conjunction with other forms of therapy. You should always seek a holistic approach to treatment.

4. You’ve Said Acupuncture Works For Addiction, But How Does it Specifically Work?

When you are addicted to something, two things are happening. You are filling a void in your life, and you are falling out of balance with reality. Your body, specifically, is out of wack.

Counseling will help you with the first thing, but acupuncture for addiction helps you with the second.

How does this work?

It works by decreasing withdrawal symptoms. Managing cravings. Relaxing your mind and body. Balancing the chemicals in your brain. Enhancing your mental functions.

The chemical most likely affected is dopamine. Dopamine is the natural substance in your body you are most likely craving when you’re addicted. This is a feel good hormone responsible for keeping your attention on tasks and making life interesting.

If you don’t have a naturally high amount of dopamine in your system, you will probably self-treat your problem with drugs.

Acupuncture for addiction replaces drugs by stimulating dopamine production in the brain.

5. What Is It Like?

As we mentioned above, it’s a painless procedure. The doctor will assess your overall health. Check your pulse. Check your tongue. Ask you questions about your addiction. How long you have been addicted. What your symptoms are. What other health problems you might be experiencing.

You may not even realize what aspects of your health are compounded with your addiction. This is why it’s imperative you are honest with the doctor about your health and habits.

They will have you lay in a relaxed, seated, and reclined position. Relaxation is key when it comes to acupuncture for addiction. In order for your body to respond properly, you need to be comfortable.

This is why some acupuncturists will include a mild massage with ointments to the skin before performing their work.

The sessions usually last anywhere between ten to thirty minutes. Some therapists will twirl the needles or heat them to increase effectiveness.

Many people report a sense of well-being while going through acupuncture for addiction. A sense of peacefulness and some positive physical effects. Others report a renewed energy in their daily lives.

This is a completely safe and effective procedure. There is no need to be nervous or worried. If you don’t like the sight of needles, just close your eyes and relax.


More people complete acupuncture for addiction sessions than they do counseling sessions. While we still recommend doing acupuncture in conjunction with other forms of treatment, you can continue to benefit from acupuncture for many years afterward. That is if you find it helpful and relaxing.

If you are suffering from addiction, find a physician who can help you. You really have nothing to lose by trying. The regret always comes in not trying something you know would have pulled you out of a bad situation.

If you’ve used acupuncture before, we’d love to hear about your experience. And, if you have any questions, please get in touch with us. We’re here to help you.

Contact us today for any questions you may have on our selection of addiction recovery services.