What is Acupuncture?
For many people, acupuncture therapy may seem intimidating. Many people are afraid of needles and don’t like the idea of being poked with them. But acupuncture isn’t painful—it’s an alternative medical practice used to relieve pain and to heal the body.
Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body using fine needles to penetrate the surface of the skin. The practice has been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years as a method for pain relief and therapy for different medical conditions. More recently in the West, acupuncture has been used for addressing pain, nausea, auto-immune conditions, and other ailments.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
The practices of acupuncture are believed to have existed before recorded history. In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is still used today and is based on these ancient traditions. In short, acupuncture is based on a theory that disease is caused by disruptions to the flow of energy in the body.
So, how does acupuncture address these disruptive blockages? Tiny needles are used to stimulate points under the skin, which unblocks and loosens the flow of energy in the body’s energy pathways called meridians. Moreover, these meridians can help the brain to release natural endorphins. As a result, acupuncture can stimulate feelings of well-being and improve your overall mood.
Because acupuncture is an alternative therapy to pain medication in some cases, it can be a powerful component of addiction recovery programs.
How Does Acupuncture Work in Addiction Recovery?
The path to recovery from addiction is often a lifelong commitment. And the exact route varies for person to person. Moreover, it’s a healing process that involves the entire individual—body, soul, and mind. These complexities require integrative treatments that consider the whole of a person. One helpful avenue in treating substance abuse and addiction can be acupuncture therapy.
Acupuncture in therapeutic settings is not new. For example, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) has been working with acupuncture and substance abuse disorders since the 1970s. According to their treatment protocols, acupuncture used for substance abuse disorders demonstrates improvements in the following:
- Recovery engagement
- Retention in therapy programs
- Reduced substance cravings
- Physical symptoms of withdrawal
As a complementary treatment, acupuncture can be quite effective. This does not necessarily mean that it should be the main source of therapy for those in recovery. As such, its value as an integrative, supplemental therapy is well-attested in addiction recovery programs.
What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture?
In addition to pain relief mentioned above, acupuncture therapy has many health benefits. The conditions it can improve include but aren’t limited to the following;
- Arthritis and other joint issues
- Food allergies
- Environmental allergies
- Chemotherapy reactions
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Menstrual cramps
- Gastrointestinal pain
- Headaches and Migraines
- High and low blood pressure
- Neck pain
- Knee Pain
- Mid and low back pain
- Autoimmune conditions
- Nausea, and vomiting
- Teeth and jaw pain
- Pain associated with surgeries
- Kidney pain
- Mental health
From an addiction recovery perspective, stress reduction and pain relief are the two primary benefits of acupuncture. It’s easy to see how this therapy might benefit people in recovery from substance abuse disorders. Acupuncture as an complementary treatment for pain management may prove to be a powerful component of addiction recovery programs, particularly with addictions involving painkillers.
What Does a Holistic Approach to Addiction Recovery Look Like?
Every person is unique. Therefore, every addiction treatment plan must be individualized. While addictions share symptoms and dangers, ultimately addictions are as unique as the individuals who have them. No two people share the same life experiences, heartbreak, challenges, stresses, and demands, and that is why addiction treatment must be individualized and must address the individual as a whole.
Everyone knows that you can’t install a skylight in your home successfully without taking into account the structural components, the direction of sunlight, and goals for a particular room. In the same way, you can’t approach addiction recovery without considering every aspect of life. Work, friendships, education, social-economic situation, service, and co-occurring illnesses are each a part of the whole. For many people, acupuncture may be a helpful aspect of addressing holistic health during addiction recovery.
If there was only a single addiction recovery method that worked all the time for everyone, there wouldn’t be relapse and recovery rates. In the real world, a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery will inevitably leave some people behind. If you are struggling with the illness of addiction, do not settle for addiction treatment that is the same for everyone in a facility. While many of the components of recovery treatment will be similar, your best chance for long-term recovery comes from a program that is individualized to your needs, and it may or may not include integrative therapies like acupuncture.
Taking Recovery One Step at a Time
While addiction recovery requires sustained hard work, it also requires sustained self-care. How people choose to care for themselves as part of recovery varies because of factors like upbringing, culture, and a person’s individual personality. Childhood and adult trauma change the brain and lead to increased substance use and other psychiatric disorders. Moreover, brain pathways and the body are directly impacted by substance use and addiction. With this in mind, the importance of healthy eating, diet and exercise when overcoming addiction cannot be understated.
Addiction recovery with integrative treatments have a higher probability of long-term success. Therefore, many people with substance abuse issues can turn to care methods that will address both their unique needs and situations. If you’re ready to take the next step in your recovery journey, reach out to a staff member at Pinnacle Recovery today.