In a study published in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, Yale researchers have found that acupuncture is an effective treatment for those addicted to cocaine. "The results are indisputable. We've been doing it here for years and it works. The results are fantastic. Some of our most difficult cases have turned their lives around because of it," said Daniel Iead, clinical coordinator for the Grant Street Partnership, a New Haven addiction services agency.
Because traditional treatment centers often have high relapse and dropout rates for cocaine users, the study's findings are encouraging. Acupuncture is now being used in substance abuse programs in hospitals, jails, homeless and battered woman's shelters, neighborhood community centers, and medical clinics across the nation. It is an effective complement to traditional methods of treatment because it has fewer side effects and is relatively low-cost. In addition to cocaine, acupuncture has also been used during the past 20 years to treat addictions to opiates, tobacco and alcohol.
The treatment protocol for substance addiction involves auricular (ear) acupuncture, where four to five very small needles are inserted into points corresponding to the lung, kidney and nervous system. It is thought that these needles increase the flow of endorphins, morphine-like hormones that induce a deep state of relaxation. This state is prolonged and leads to a lessening of cravings, anxiety, and depression associated with withdrawal.
Cocaine addiction has been associated with cardiovascular and respiratory problems, psychiatric disorders, AIDS, early child development abnormalities and death. In 1996 an estimated 1.7 million persons reported using cocaine at least once in the past month. In the same year, an estimated $10 billion was lost in cocaine-related crimes and productivity, and public/private expenditures on cocaine-related treatment totaled about $1 billion.
For more information on acupuncture and Chinese medicine and it's use in the treatment of substance addiction, please contact Pacific College of Oriental Medicine at (800) 729-0941.