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Acupuncture to Treat Alcoholism

Learn if acupuncture can help treat alcoholism in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


I'm often asked by people who are in treatment for alcohol problems if they should have acupuncture to help with their alcohol treatment. Well, acupuncture has been widely used in the field of substance abuse disorders. And in that, acupuncture has been used for many years, however in research there's not a good research base showing that acupuncture is a treatment in and of itself. Having said that, acupuncture has been shown to be helpful to people while they're undergoing other kinds of alcohol treatment. So, what we do is we think of these kinds of treatment like acupuncture as being additive to other kinds of treatment that do have a very strong base in research.

The standard treatments include what's called "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy," or what's called "12-Step Facilitation" where you're helping people learn how to use Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. What we do know, and what people describe in using acupunture is that it helps people relax. It often helps people be able to sit in a room, and have a group therapy treatment or have, you know, sit and have through 12-Step meetings and be able to talk. We do know that acupuncture is a very strong relaxant and can be very helpful to people, particularly people who have, maybe have anxiety issues in addition to their substance use issues. And I often refer people for acupuncture. I'd much rather see people try acupuncture than need to try medication for their anxiety using that as an example. But acupuncture again, as a stand-alone treatment for substance abuse, it has not been shown to work unto itself. But I again, recommend it again as a add-on treatment to other standard practice.

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