Therapies > Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Abuse

As a substance with great potency of misuse and addiction, the consumption of alcohol can lead to serious damage to individual health and the society. Over the past 20 years, alcohol abuse or alcoholism has become an increasing social problem in China and across the globe.

Alcohol dependence is a serious physical and psychological problem and it is estimated that approximately 70% of those with alcohol dependence also suffer from varying degrees of depression. Many people that become dependent on alcohol do so as a result of pre-existing mood disorders, and alcohol dependence often leads to loss of confidence and low self-esteem. Effectively treating patients with alcohol dependency is challenging for healthcare professionals due to poor compliance with medical interventions, resulting in recurrent relapses.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory, emotional imbalances are a major cause of disease, leading to qi stagnation and disharmony between yin and yang. Alcohol dependence involves pent-up, negative emotions that accumulate over time, initiating a cycle of depression. In other words, something is causing the body not to do its natural healing. When an addict is suffering from an imbalance, they are using a substance like alcohol to self-medicate. 

The major treatment principles are to reconcile the emotions, warm and free the channels, and restore harmony between yin and yang.

Acupuncture in the Treatment of Alcoholism

Auricular acupuncture is extensively used in the treatment of alcohol addiction. 

Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating addiction by rebalancing the person from day to day, which makes them feel a lot better. It also regulates their temperature so that they aren’t going through the sort of extreme temperature changes that people experience when they’re ‘‘coming down.” 

Instead of treating the whole body, as traditional Chinese acupuncture does, auricular acupuncture targets three to five specific needle points on the ear. These points address parts of the body, like the kidney, lung and liver that are weakened over time from drug use. Adherents claim that auricular acupuncture also opens up blocked meridians so that a patient’s chi can flow freely. The treatment is carried out by inserting short, thin, sterile acupuncture needles on the acupuncture points inside the outer ear in combination with other points. 

Patients sit or lie for about 45 minutes with those needles. Auricular acupuncture treatments for alcoholism often have a profoundly calming effect on the mind and body, which certainly is useful in dealing with cravings. Besides the calming effect they stimulate other acupuncture points to strengthen the liver, kidneys and lungs, which are the major organs of elimination as these organs have gone weak in addicts. Treatment continues until the cravings cease. Follow-up acupuncture treatments one or more times a week are administered to help them remain craving-free. Alcoholics typically require daily acupuncture treatments during the initial period of treatment. 

Advantages of using acupuncture for the treatment of addiction?

Acupuncture works to treat more than just the alcohol addiction. The overall goal of the treatments is to help patients get back to their holistic state on their own, where they’re not in ‘fight or flight’ mode, but where they feel most like their true self. 

With Acupuncture Withdrawal systems weaken and cravings are not as severe. Some specialists even believe that acupuncture has the potential to eliminate toxins built up from substance abuse. 

What does a typical acupuncture session for alcohol addiction include?

Every acupuncture session includes the following elements: 

  • Puncturing: needles are thin enough that relatively little acute pain results from their insertion. Only a few needles are used in a typical treatment. 
  • Manipulation: after the needles are in place, the acupuncturist may lightly twirl them or apply heat. 
  • Removal: after the prescribed time, the needles are quickly and painlessly removed. 

For an alcoholic seeking acupuncture rehabilitation treatment, it is important to minimize expectations and keep an open mind. Some patients respond rapidly to acupuncture; others see little in the way of results. 

How can acupuncture help with post acute withdrawal symptoms?

Acupuncture is treated as an ancillary to Alcoholic Anonymous twelve-step program; it really

seems to help guard against Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. 

  • inability to think clearly 
  • emotional over reactions 
  • memory problems 
  • sleep disturbances 
  • physical coordination problems 
  • problems in managing stress 

In some cases it can remove them altogether. 

Acupressure in the Treatment of Alcoholism

Acupressure works in the treatment of alcoholism by applying pressure on the required pressure points. 

In acupressure physical pressure is applied by hand, elbow, or with the aid of various devices on the specific acupressure points of the body. This pressure brings relief by rebalancing the yin and yang

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