Acupuncture has been a popular treatment for addictions for many years and is used all over the world for this purpose. The reason it can help addictions may be because it stimulates areas of the brain – and certain neuro-chemicals – that reduce pain, stress and anxiety and help promote relaxation.
The type of acupuncture usually used is ear acupuncture (also called auriculotherapy), sometimes with electric stimulation during the treatment.
In addition, tiny needles are sometimes left in the ear between treatments as there is some evidence that this may be the most effective form of acupuncture for treating substance misuse and may be more effective than other interventions such as hypnotherapy. Because of the small but serious risk of infection from these 'indwelling' needles, I prefer to use small metal balls which are held in place over the acu-points with sticky plaster.
Examples of addictions that may be helped with acupuncture are