Acupuncture is one of many practices in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture has a long history in the treatment of many body disorders; however, it has not been until the last century that it became popular in the treatment of substance abuse. It has been proved that acupuncture can ease many symptoms of withdrawal from substance abuse. The following is a brief explanation on how acupuncture is used in drug addiction treatment.
To have a better understanding of acupuncture, it is necessary to analyze the fundamental principles governing it. According to Chinese philosophy the body is ruled by two complementary principles (yin and yang). Yin is cold and yang is hot; yin is female and yang is male; yin is light and yang is dark; yin is in and yang is out, etc. these two forces are always interacting each other in harmony, although, when that harmony is disturbed either yin or yang is reduced or augmented. Acupuncture therapies aim to increase or reduce one or the other in order to regain balance (health).
Another fundamental principle in Chinese medicine is Qi (life energy). Qi is found in food, water, air, and sunlight. In the human body, Qi functions as the force that enlivens life. Human beings are born with a determined quantity of Qi; and another amount of Qi is acquired through the ingestion of food and breathing air. The amount of Qi is also determined by the physical and mental state. Qi is achieved by inserting needles under the skin into pathways known as meridians, allowing Qi to flow freely throughout the system.
In Chinese medicine, there are twelve principal organs in the body, including the small and large intestine, stomach, spleen, lungs, heart, kidney, liver, urinary bladder, gallbladder, pericardium, and the triple warmer. Imbalances of Qi in the organs lead in disease. Acupuncture needles inserted in specific parts of the body are utilized to adjust the flow of Qi throughout the body, letting the energy reach the affected organs, and restoring health.
Auricular acupuncture involves the insertion of needles in specific points in the ears; these needles produce an effect in organs, such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, and the nervous system; these organs play an important part in the detoxification process. When needles are inserted into these points in the ears, chemical substances (endorphins) are released producing a sensation of calmness and relaxation. Acupuncture has proved useful at relieving depression and anxiety, as well as reducing the symptoms of withdrawal, such as muscle cramping, nausea, headache and sweating.
While acupuncture may not have a direct effect in the cure of drug addiction, it has proved to confer a relaxing effect on individuals going through some kind of physical adjustment, such as drug withdrawal by diminishing their symptoms. Unlike other drug treatments, acupuncture confers a calming mental effect; however, the best positive results from drug addiction is the individual´s self determination to regain self-steem.