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Resources for Acupuncture in Chemical Dependency Treatment and Recovery


Frequently Asked Questions



What kinds of agencies or services should think about adding an acupuncture component?

Does acupuncture really work?

Are there any drugs that it doesn't work for?

Does it help with other addictions?

How much does it cost?

How do programs pay for it?

Is acupuncture safe? What are the liability issues? Is there increased risk of spreading infectious disease?

Does the treatment hurt?

How much time does the treatment take?

Do clients need to make an appointment for acupuncture?

What do clients do while they're getting needled?

How do programs pay for acupuncture?
If any part of the program's funding is determined by client utilization of services, acupuncture may be viewed as a revenue-enhancing addition, because outcomes studies have shown that the presence of an acupuncture component increases program attraction, engagement, and retention.

There are other methods of paying for the acupuncture component:

Client fees: Many clinics charge for all services on a sliding scale, in which case the average cost of the acupuncture may be factored in. Programs might also consider opening the acupuncture clinic to the community on a sliding fee basis, or they may elect to have a separate smoking cessation or other target program at a higher fee, and clients of that program may pay fees at a level that underwrites the basic costs of the acupuncture in which other program clients participate. Non-profit or public programs for whom cost reporting is required should be wary of parity issues (e.g. five clients paying $20 each for the acupuncture would cover the costs for 20 other non-paying clients). Agencies that operate multiple programs should note that the same acupuncture opportunity may be designed to serve clients in more than one program.

State or Federal block grant funds: Local or state funding authorities and their advisory groups can be educated that authorizing acupuncture as a legitimate program cost can reduce relapse and increase client retention rates.

Grants: Private grant awards from such sources as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and United Way, and public sources including HUD, NIJ, CDC, CSAT, and some state departments of corrections have funded acupuncture as a component of a larger treatment project. Local program officials can be encouraged to include acupuncture in grant development initiatives.

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More FAQs

How many clients can be treated at once?

How often do clients need to be treated?

How long to clients have to keep having treatments?

Does it matter what time of day the acupuncture is provided?

What national organizations support acupuncture in treating addiction? What resources are available to support us if we decide to do it?

Won't adding "alternative medicine" such as acupuncture make our program seem experimental or "fringe" with our referral sources, funders, or potential clients?

Can I start an acupuncture treatment program if I am not currently an alcohol and other drug treatment provider?

Does the acupuncture program have to include herbs or nutritional supplements?

What is the history of how acupuncture began to be used in chemical dependency treatment?

What does the acupuncture clinic look like exactly?

How much space and extra equipment will we need to do it?

What staffing is required?

How do we get the needles?

How do we clean or dispose of the needles after they are used?

What about medical liability?

How does acupuncture fit with drug testing?

How do we find and train people to do the needling?

Could we just try it experimentally to make sure it's a good fit for us?

What technical assistance will be required to start and maintain an acupuncture component?

Is it compatible with harm reduction?

Is it compatible with 12-Step or abstinence-based treatment approaches?

Is it appropriate for mandated or court-referred clients?

Is it appropriate for adolescents?

Is it appropriate for pregnant women?

Is it appropriate for people with co-morbid psychiatric problems?

Is it appropriate for people with HIV/AIDS?

Is it appropriate in methadone programs?

Is it appropriate in residential programs?

What training is required for current program and administrative staff?

What are the steps we should take to add an acupuncture component?


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