Overcoming Opioid Addiction
The opioid epidemic has been a subject of political debate and medical concern over the last several years. The toll has been profound: tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of deaths due to opioid overdoses occur every year and this number has been rising steadily over the past decade.
As more and more people are finding themselves addicted to these substances, resources to help direct addicts towards a successful recovery remain limited and incredibly expensive. Undoubtedly, addiction is a difficult disease to overcome. It requires a multi-faceted approach that is supervised by a specialized and supportive medical personnel. So where does acupuncture fit?
Opioids activate the brain’s reward system by increasing the amount of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. These naturally occurring substances are responsible for the regulation of cognition, mood and emotion, movement, and feelings of pleasure and well-being. During the withdrawal process, the amounts of these substances plummets resulting in a series of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms.
Acupuncture is not a primary treatment for opioid addiction, however, it may be viable supplement for helping to overcome it as specific treatments can increase the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins during the withdrawal process.
One form of acupuncture, known as Auriculotherapy, may be especially useful during the treatment process of opioid withdrawal. It involves stimulating the surface of a person’s ear at precise locations by the insertion of an acupuncture needle. The auricle, or visible part of the ear, has been linked to mental and emotional well-being and therefore has been a focus for treating the conditions that impinge upon mental and emotional health within alternative medicine.
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, we highly recommend that you seek the help of a qualified medical professional who specializes in this area. When an appropriate point in the recovery process has been reached, the consideration of adding acupuncture to your treatment regimen may be worth discussing with your provider.