According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is defined as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works.” The euphoria experienced when using certain drugs, including opioids, reduces the body’s natural ability to generate endogenous endorphins, thereby causing increased reliance upon the user’s drug of choice.
There are myriad risk factors that can increase the chances that anyone takes when starting and continuing to take drugs, beyond the point of trying to feel better. Consequently, treatment for addiction necessarily employs a variety of methods —including behavioral and psychiatric therapies —and also entails debilitating withdrawal symptoms that inevitably arise when trying to make a change for the better. Such withdrawal symptoms can include depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Acupuncture has been incorporated into many addiction treatment facilities across the country due to its efficacy in helping with drug addiction recovery. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol is one of the most well-known acupuncture techniques used around the world, and has gained respect with the mounting evidence of its efficacy. That said, acupuncture alone may not reduce usage rates of all illicit substances, but it can play an important role in contributing to the reduction of withdrawal symptoms, which ultimately means reduction in rates of returning to substance use.
Traditional Chinese Medicine works with many tools in addition to acupuncture, making it much more capable of addressing drug addiction in a comprehensive way.