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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 much space and extra equipment will we need to do acupuncture?

Since the acupuncture clinic should be scheduled in the hour(s) just preceding group counseling or education, any room currently used for that purpose may be used for the acupuncture. Waiting rooms or reception areas may also be used.

If you are able to provide a designated treatment space, it is great to have high back chairs with arms so clients can fully relax. You will also need a table in the room for sign-in, client cards, and other clinic supplies.

Other equipment and materials include:

  • Ear needles: These come pre-packaged, five needles per packet, and can be purchased in bulk.
  • Sterile alcohol prep pads: these also come pre-packaged.
  • Sterile cotton balls.
  • Latex safety gloves available for the clinician doing the needling.
  • A small mirror on the wall if clients are to remove their own needles after treatment.

For the "detox tea," If pre-mixed tea bags are used, you'll need only hot water and cups. If the clinic buys the herbs for the tea in bulk, you'll need a thermos. Cheese cloth works well for bagging the herbs.

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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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