Stillpoint Press Home


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 long to clients have to keep having treatments?

(scroll down for answer)

The organization that is primarily responsible for the contribution of acupuncture to the addiction treatment field is the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. It is a well-acknowledged shortcoming that the name implies that acupuncture's use is exclusively in the treatment of acute withdrawal. Some funders have unfortunately taken this quite literally, and will not reimburse for acupuncture beyond the first 30 days.

While it is true that acupuncture is an elegant and effective tool in the acute withdrawal phase, it also has enormous benefit in the subsequent phases of recovery. As seasoned treatment professionals know, the most important goal in alcohol and other drug treatment is client retention. In order to retain clients in treatment, programs must have strategies for addressing post-acute withdrawal in order to help prevent relapse. The classic post-acute withdrawal symptoms - the cycle of craving, anxiety, and depression, and sleep problems that can continue for months and even years following the person's last drug use.

Acupuncture is effective in reducing and sometimes eliminating all of these post-acute withdrawal symptoms. In the optimum program, acupuncture will therefore be available to clients indefinitely, and they will be welcome to return for "tune-up" treatments even past discharge or "graduation" from the program. Some programs have clients still coming to acupuncture who have been sober for two and three years.

When people begin going to 12-Step meetings, a common question is, "how long to I have to come here?" One answer that is sometimes given is, "You have to come until you want to come." Acupuncture is similarly a "client-centered" therapy. Its benefits are highly subjective, and clients quickly become experts in how it works for them. The program's responsibility is to make the treatment available to its clients "as needed" with no time limits, and to encourage people to "keep coming back!"

previous - Read FAQs in Sequence - next

Index of Articles - Links - Home

Scroll Down for More "Frequently Asked Questions"




The Book: Transformation and Recovery

Articles on this Website

Links to Other Articles and Resources


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?


Articles on this Website