Progressing through withdrawal management, the first step in the substance recovery process can be difficult. Enter AcuDetox. AcuDetox is a treatment method that can provide symptom relief during the withdrawal management phase of recovery. This adjunct therapy entails the use of acupuncture to help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, thus the name, AcuDetox.
Acupuncture is an ancient holistic care practice with a long history of aiding various health conditions, including withdrawal management. Acupuncture involves the use of thin needles that are strategically inserted into targeted regions of the body. The practice is based upon the theory that there is a blockage in the flow of life energy referred to as “qi.” By opening up these blockages, acupuncture helps restore natural, healthy energy flow.
Where did AcuDetox come from?
AcuDetox is the brand name of a treatment protocol developed in 1974 by Dr. Michael Smith. This led to the creation of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) in 1985. Smith was inspired when a surgeon located in Hong Kong reported that a patient’s craving for opium had disappeared during acupuncture sessions.
The NADA model uses a five-point application of needles in the ear, called auricular acupuncture. These specific sites affect the following body functions:
- Sympathetic. This point involves balancing the autonomic nervous system.
- Shen men. This point helps reduce anxiety-related symptoms including insomnia.
- Kidney. The point can help strengthen various body functions and reduce anxiety.
- Liver. This point assists the metabolic functions of the liver and calms the mood.
- Lung. This point helps regulate respiration, body temperature, and reduces apathy.
A trained acupuncturist gently inserts the needles into the five regions in the ears. The needles are left in the ear for 45 minutes to an hour while the patient relaxes comfortably in a chair. Treatments can be offered in a group setting or individually.
Benefits of AcuDetox
When combined with standard withdrawal management protocols, AcuDetox can produce several benefits. The benefits will begin to appear minutes after the needles are inserted. This is due to the stimulation of the particular sites in the ear, which causes a release of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. The person will feel a sense of calm come over them almost immediately.
AcuDetox has shown several benefits related specifically to substance withdrawal support. These include:
- Reduces substance cravings
- Reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety
- Reduces substance dependency
- Improves sleep quality
- Improves concentration
- Improves substance treatment retention
In addition to the substance recovery benefits, AcuDetox has some mental health benefits as well. Many in recovery also struggle with comorbid anxiety, PTSD, or ADHD, all conditions that can benefit to some extent from auricular acupuncture.
Certain insertion points in the ear help produce an inner sense of quiet and peacefulness. This assists people with these co-occurring conditions by reducing the following symptoms:
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Attention deficit disorders
AcuDetox is not appropriate for everyone, though. Individuals who take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, have a pacemaker, or are pregnant may not be candidates for this treatment.
AcuDetox is an alternative treatment protocol that can be used in tandem with other withdrawal management efforts. For example, at a certain point during the withdrawal process, someone in treatment for an opioid use disorder may begin Medication Supported Recovery (MSR). AcuDetox would be an appropriate complementary measure with MSR for these individuals. Other complementary treatments might include yoga, massage, and meditation.
For those entering recovery, facing the withdrawal management step can provoke feelings of anxiety. AcuDetox is a safe, substance-free adjunct measure that can help reduce the discomforts associated with withdrawal, while also providing a sense of calm.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formally Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.