Acupuncture for Reducing Opioid Addiction

The benefits of acupuncture have been well documented. They include stress reduction, pain relief, helping with anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome. With the opioid epidemic raging across the country, researchers have come to believe acupuncture can be a substitute for opioids by stimulating the production of a person’s  “endogenous opioids.” In other words, using the body’s own chemistry to mirror or even exceed the benefits of the synthetic drugs without the risk of side effects.

These benefits were outlined in a 2016 letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from the Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force, Acupuncture Now Foundation and the American Society of Acupuncturists. In the letter it stated “acupuncture has the potential to reduce or even in some cases eliminate the need for opioids and non-opioid drugs while also helping to treat opioid addiction.”


An April 2016 study “Acupuncture Therapy for Drug Addiction” analyzed over 161 studies written on the subject from 2000-2014. The articles from journals and clinical research were broken down into groups based on how acupuncture was being used and what it was treating, ie. alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, opiates and morphine. The 2016 study showed flaws that included: a lack of clarity and discrepancy among sample sizes, length of treatment and protocols. In spite of the findings, it appeared there were many individual studies that initially reported to yield positive results. However, when many of these studies were replicated, only average to zero results showed acupuncture to be a strong case in the treatment of addiction.

However, looking back to the letter presented to the CDC, acupuncture still shows promise as an alternative therapy for pain management and other conditions. If acupuncture is used as an alternative or in conjunction with opioids, it could help to stop opioid addiction. The theory is that with a reduction in opioid pain prescriptions, patients would be less likely to become addicted.

An estimated 700 addiction treatment centers today use acupuncture in conjunction with the their established protocols for addiction treatment. t is believed the acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system, chemicals are then released into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. The biochemical changes that occur within the body may, in turn, stimulate healing and foster physical and emotional wellbeing. Emotional wellbeing is central to those in recovery for opioid and other forms of addiction.

When looking for an acupuncturist make sure they are licensed. It’s a good idea to find out if your insurance company covers acupuncture, too. Heal well, recover and carry on with the life you deserve!

Holistic healing and recovery are proven to contribute to longevity of life in sobriety. Infinity Malibu wants to help take you there. Call us today for information on our private residential treatment programs: 888-266-9048

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