Acupuncture For Addiction And Alcoholism Recovery: Does It Help?

Last Updated: July 6, 2020

Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Acupuncture has been used as an addiction therapy technique for decades. In recent years, acupuncture for addiction has dramatically increased in its applications in medicine. Since its acceptance as an alternative medicine in 1997 by the National Institute of Health, acupuncture therapy (stylostixis intervention treatment) has been utilized as a healing regimen for various physical and mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, schizophrenia, and withdrawal stage of substance addiction treatment.
A report states that well over 700 addiction institutions use stylostixis intervention treatment as part of holistic treatment for all kinds of addiction recovery. The influence of the therapy is hinged on the detoxifying effect caused by the stimulation of acupoints with needles. How effective is acupuncture for alcoholism and substance abuse? Can acupuncture help with alcoholism and drug cravings?

How Acupuncture Affects Neurotransmitters

This is the basis of its application in mental health. So, what does acupuncture help with? Does acupuncture help improve the functions of neurotransmitters?
Acupuncture needles and supplies
Here are some neurotransmitters affected by stylostixis intervention treatment:


These are pain-relieving chemicals which are usually released to alleviate pain and stress in the tissues. It is believed that stylostixis intervention treatment releases endorphins in the body, which is exceptionally significant for patients who are going through the process of recovery from addictions. The withdrawal symptoms often present with the body and joint pains. Hence, the presence of endorphins in the body is beneficial for recovery.


Medical professionals observe that people with addictions to alcohol and hard drugs such as morphine, cocaine, and others usually have extremely high levels of dopamine deposits. This substance is responsible for the feeling of euphoria experienced when indulging in these substances. However, a decline in the levels of dopamine in the system, caused by withdrawal from drug or alcohol, can lead to mental distress, anxieties, depression, a feeling of sadness, and intense craving. Acupuncture helps with alleviating these feelings.


The presence of serotonin in the body creates a feeling of calm and relieves anxiety. The production of serotonin is affected by stylostixis intervention treatment as well. Other neurotransmitters that are affected by acupuncture are amino acids and catecholamine.

Role Of Acupuncture In Addiction Treatment

There has been a lot of controversy and research on acupuncture for alcohol addiction. One particular investigation is on the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture for addiction. The auricular point known as “Shen men” is referred to as the “spirit gate” and reduces anxiety. There are other points, such as the autonomic points, lung, kidney point, the ear, and liver point. These areas are believed by the professional, to be vital points. So, can acupuncture help with addiction?

Therapist Giving acupuncture addiction Treatment

For Opiates

An evaluation conducted on the efficacy of acupuncture for drug addiction by investigating the reactions on opiate addict patients proved that there was a significant decrease in the rigorousness of withdrawal symptoms.

For Alcoholism

Does acupuncture work for alcoholism? The research on acupuncture and alcohol has been extensive and yet conflicting at several points. Since similar neurotransmitters are activated in drug and alcohol addictions, can acupuncture help with alcohol addiction

Other Substances

Acupuncture for drug withdrawal showed no efficacy and did not reduce drug cravings either. However, some findings supported a significant reduction in the psychological distress experienced by patients. The substances tested were psychoactive drugs such as cannabis and methamphetamine.  Further research on the use of acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment for these substances is required as the research findings remain conflicting.

Addiction Treatment Programs That Use Acupuncture

Acupuncture and addiction treatment may go hand in hand with other forms of therapy, as well. It is important to note that stylostixis intervention alone, as a treatment regimen for addiction treatment, isn’t enough. For a more holistic treatment, other techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, one-on-one counseling, group and family sessions, and other evidence-based methods are required.

acupuncture addiction Treatment therapy
There is a number of addiction treatment programs that integrate acupunctural therapy into its schedules to ensure a full recovery. Some of these therapies include:

  • Trauma therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual addiction treatment plans
  • Dual diagnosis therapy
  • Relapse prevention
  • Experiential therapy
  • Chronic pains

Substance addiction often presents with discomfort and distress when one goes through a detox process. Whatever the addiction treatment of choice, whether holistic natural remedies or the use of drugs, it is necessary to opt for the safest methods with the capacity to provide long-lasting healing. Stylostixis intervention treatment can be integrated into any program alternative to the 12 steps.

Acupuncture For Addiction Treatment: What To Look For?

Stylostixis intervention is a complementary therapy that can ease the stress of withdrawal symptoms and hence, should be done by a certified professional. It is part of holistic treatment and can be combined with other forms of addiction therapy for maximum results.
When choosing an stylostixis intervention treatment specialist, one needs to ascertain the level of experience the specialist has and if there are accreditations of credentials to support their experience. Another way to get adequate information is by visiting the official website of institutions of choice, or checking reviews online. Asking a medical doctor for a referral is also a great way to make the best choice.

man getting ear acupuncture

Questions To Ask Before Undergoing Acupuncture

Many people are new to this form of treatment and may have a few questions to ask. It is necessary to ask the right questions to ensure that one is in the right place. Some of the relevant questions are:

  • What experiences does one have in stylostixis intervention treatment?
  • What training has one acquired and are these certifications up to date?
  • Does a doctor have a particular specialization?
  • How does one sterilize the needles and how often?
  • How many sessions a patient requires for the particular condition?
  • Are there any acupuncture detox symptoms one would likely experience?
  • Have there been cases of complications due to this treatment in the past?

One may also inquire what kind of payment plan is accepted and if insurance plans are covered.

Page Sources

  1. Jaung-Geng Lin, Yuan-Yu Chan, Yi-Hung Chen, Acupuncture for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction,
  2. Farid Esmaeili Motlagh, Fatimah Ibrahim,Rusdi Abd Rashid, Tahereh Seghatoleslam, Hussain Habil, Acupuncture therapy for drug addiction,

Published on: November 5th, 2019

Updated on: July 6th, 2020

About Author

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He is graduated from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and health care articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


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