Ear Acupuncture Helps recovering Addicts

Linda Braden Albert tells us that an old technique has become a new weapon in helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Cornerstone of Recovery, a residential treatment facility for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, is now using auricular, or ear, acupuncture to aid in the difficult detoxification process.

Image Courtesy: healthhaven.com

Sue Orr, assessment orientation director at Cornerstone, said the ancient art of acupuncture gives clients relief from the sleeplessness, stress, cramps and other symptoms they experience while in detoxification. The process involves using small, hairline needles placed in five specific points on the surface of the ear.

"They are pretty blunt needles," Orr explained. "We're not putting anything into the patient or taking anything out of the patient, as far as any medicines, or anything. They are just very small needles placed in five very specific points on their ears."

Ear acupuncture is based on the premise that there are points for the entire body mapped out on the ear surfaces, Orr said. "What they found is a protocol specific for detox. It's actually the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, called NADA. They developed the protocol to treat addiction using those five points. It's a technique that helps get energy flowing freely and restores balance to the body. It creates healing changes in the various functional systems of the body."

NADA believes this technique, called the acudetox program, should be used in conjunction with other treatment models, such as the 12-step program and group therapy. "It's not a standalone treatment, it needs to be used as a group-therapy setting," Orr said. "I like that. I felt like it supported what we are already doing at Cornerstone."

Clients receptive
The acudetox group at Cornerstone began about six weeks ago. The residential clients have been very receptive to the program.

"We have gotten very positive reactions from the clients," Orr said. "This is offered five days a week for the detox patients. We didn't think the patients would want it every day because they are coming and going so much in those first five days. We made it available for five days for the people who wanted it, and they have wanted it every day that they have been in detox."

Orr said clients have reported that they can sleep better -- sleeplessness is one big complaint when they first come to the facility -- and that they feel calmer.

"It allows them to rest, gives them a moment of peace, less agitation," Orr said. "We've found that clients who do utilize this are calmer. They are more pleasant to work with than the clients going through the detox and withdrawal systems. People who've utilized acudetox say they feel less withdrawal systems, less cramping, less nausea versus the people who don't utilize it. They stay the same. We don't see a marked improvement in a day like you do with the patients who are utilizing the acudetox."

Linda Braden Albert
January 10, 2010.
Last modified: January 09. 2010 8:41PM