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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?

Is acupuncture appropriate for pregnant women?

The 5-point ear protocol established by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) has been used successfully across all populations with alcohol and other drug problems, and there are no "special populations" for which it is contraindicated. There is also no need for programs treating multiple populations at multiple stages to segregate clients for acupuncture treatment; one acupuncture clinic opportunity can treat all program clients at once. Perinatal programs that provide childcare will of course need to pay extra attention to needle safety issues if toddlers are in and around the room where people are being needled.

Some traditional Chinese medical texts recommend against acupuncture in the last trimester of pregnancy, but this tradition originates in texts that were written before the advent of auricular (ear) acupuncture used in drug treatment, which is far less invasive than the "full-body" acupuncture to which the recommendation refers. Still, some acupuncturists and NADA trainers recommend reducing the number of acupuncture points that are used for women in later stages of pregnancy on the basis of heightened sensitivity of certain energy systems.

For the infants of women for whom there has been psychoactive drug use during pregnancy, NADA provides special training in the auricular treatment of the infant using seeds.

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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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