Addictions are probably the biggest health problems facing the United States today. Surprisingly, the addiction to prescription drugs is a much bigger problem than the abuse of street drugs in the US. When we talk about addictions it can refer to behavioral addiction (addiction to gambling, food, pornography, TV, internet, etc) or chemical addiction (drugs, alcohol, tobacco addiction). Several various treatment modalities including counseling, group therapy, and twelve step programs can be used for addiction therapy. A couple of non-conventional treatments have demonstrated to be extremely effective in treating food, drug, tobacco, and alcohol addictions. These are Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
A huge and dramatic rise was seen in drug abuse and alcoholism starting in the 1960s all over the country. Based on statistics provided by the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcoholism is the most widely abused substance in the US. This country has about 18 million people addicted to alcohol in varying degrees. When it comes to drugs, the US has over 20 million people addicted to prescription and street drugs each year. Certainly, both alcohol and drug addictions are a huge problem in this country.
A complicated health problem that impacts the brain, addiction is marked by the person’s frequent desire to seek drugs or alcohol despite the person’s knowledge that they are harmful to his/her health. Long-term alteration of the chemistry of the brain can come about from addictions which often result in various mood disorders, anxiety, and the inability of the addict the think clearly. In a lot of instances, if the addict is unable to get what he/she is seeking for, the addict experiences the dreaded withdrawal symptoms of the addiction.
Treatments for Addiction
Western conventional medicine offers several different treatments for addiction including 12 step programs, one-on-one counseling, and group therapy. All these therapies seem to work most of the time helping addicts overcome or control their addiction. However, the biggest obstacles addicts face when using these modes of treatment are the tendency of the addict to experience relapses and the inability to suppress the cravings. Where these conventional therapies fail, Chinese medicine and acupuncture succeeds.
Chinese medicine and Acupuncture are complete medical systems by themselves. These two modalities can diagnose and treat health conditions. Both have been used in China and in other Asian countries for over 4,000 years. Acupuncturists have been curing addictions for that long. It was only in the early 70s that Americans have “discovered” acupuncture as a way of treating many kinds of body pain. It was also in the 1970s when the first addiction clinic was established in Lincoln, New York. This clinic integrated ear acupuncture in its treatment of drug and alcohol addictions. The clinic’s integration of acupuncture in the treatment of addiction was a huge success. Because of this, treatment centers and drug courts all over the United States have now included acupuncture as a complementary form of treatment for addictions.
Potentially all types of addictions can be treated with acupuncture but for the most part, it is used to treat drug and alcohol addictions. Acupuncture has the power to alter your body’s physiology boosting the self-healing capacities of your body. Acupuncture treatment can help resolve:
Addiction is best treated by a healing program that is holistic in nature. Yes, conventional therapies are essential but you also have to include Chinese medicine in the treatment lest the results of your treatment fall far below your desired expectations.
Nutrition and exercise are also important tools for addiction treatment.
Good nutrition is very important in attaining balance in your life. Try to consume a variety of food of different colors. Vegetables and fruits are vital more so as a means to detoxify your body. So, consuming lots of fruits and vegetables is imperative for treating addiction.
Qi gong and Tai Chi can help relieve anxiety and stress enabling you to more balance in your life.
All in all, one should remember that Chinese medicine and acupuncture combined with conventional therapies for drug and alcohol abuse are keys to effectively treat drug and alcohol addictions.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.