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Addiction – How Acupuncture Can Help

Addiction comes in many forms and affects people from all walks of life. Addiction can be to
cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, drugs as well as any other maladaptive behavior that becomes a
problem. Opioid addiction in particular has now been declared an epidemic in the United States
and a National Health Care Emergency. It doesn’t affect only the poorer, inner city population. It
can affect anyone – doctors, lawyers, mothers, students, veterans, pregnant women, politicians
– addiction is not exclusive or selective. Usually, opioid use starts with a physician prescribing an
opioid painkiller for suffering from an acute injury or post-operative pain. Even fibromyalgia or
other chronic pain conditions may be treated with opioid medication.  The problem comes when
the acute pain turns into chronic pain and the opioid use continues and often escalates as the
body develops a tolerance to the drug so that higher doses are needed to achieve the same
effect. Treating acute pain for a short amount of time can easily and quickly become an habitual
use of painkillers for ongoing chronic pain. According to The National Survey on Drug and
Health, 33% of Americans were prescribed opioid painkillers in 2015 and in that same year 1.9
million Americans were fully addicted to opioids – and that is only the reported cases of addicted
Americans, the number is very likely to be much higher.

But actually our bodies have natural pain killing chemicals stored right in our own bodies and
acupuncture can help access those natural remedies. Acupuncture helps the body to regulate
innate natural pain relievers such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which in turn helps
patients with relief from pain. Acupuncture stimulates the production of these natural
endogenous opioids as well as natural anti-inflammatory compounds. “Acupuncture facilitates
the better usage of the body’s own natural chemistry creating the potential for similar or
sometimes better benefits than synthetic drugs.” Acupuncture is an effective substitute for opioid
painkillers and ​it is an effective method for treatment and rehabilitation recovery from drug

In the acupuncture world, the NADA protocol is well known for treating post traumatic stress
disorder, and recovery from drug addiction. It is a simple protocol, involving small needles in the
ear, that has been used for PTSD with Veterans returning from war, in New York after 9/11, in
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and I had the opportunity to treat people who suffered the
trauma of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. This same protocol is used in centers that
treat recovering drug addicts. It is an easy, inexpensive, effective way to help people trying to
get off of addictive drugs such as opioids.

So whether a person is trying to quit addictive drugs or is trying to find relief from pain without
using an opioid, acupuncture is a viable, accepted form of treatment. The choice: pills or pins?


Julie Hatch, LAc.,NP – Acupuncturist

Phone: 401-323-4623

Email: juliehatch@hotmail.com

Website: acupunctureandalternativehealth.org