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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 does acupuncture fit with drug testing?
Due to the popularity of drug courts, urine testing in some form has become a standard feature in many alcohol and other drug treatment programs. Acupuncture for addiction has been used in conjunction with urine testing from its inception at Lincoln Recovery Center in New York, and the initial design of drug court program in Florida fully integrated acupuncture with urine testing.

While random urine testing is often viewed by clients as a potentially "punitive" monitoring device, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) recommends daily urine testing for all clients in the program with the goal of education and therapeutic feedback rather than punitive disclosure, and many local criminal justice referral agencies have fully endorsed this approach for the clients they refer.

At Lincoln and similar programs, the computer software interfaces with an on-site urine testing machine. With substantial client numbers, the cost of urinalysis for the single drug for which the client has been referred to treatment can be reduced to as little as a dollar and a half per test. Multiple client urines are tested at once, and the data is downloaded to the client's attendance file. A print-out of urine toxicity patterns over the period of the client's treatment attendance can be generated while the client is having acupuncture. A subsequent counseling session that begins with the client having this print-out in hand can commence at a far more therapeutic level, because the client's progress is already objectively established. Clinical experience shows that clients come to appreciate this daily feedback. (for a more complete discussion, see "New Perspectives in Chemical Dependency Treatment" in The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

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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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