Yale Study Finds Acupuncture Effective for Addiction

In the Far East, Chinese Medicine was designed as a healing modality to stand completely on its own for anything that ails the human body mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It functioned independently for nearly 5,000 years until East and West came together over the last century. Acupuncture, a treatment that uses the insertion of hair-thin needles along specific points in the body, is just one therapeutic treatment in the Chinese medicine arsenal, but probably the most widely recognized here in the US.

The Western medical framework has been slow to adopt many of the Eastern healing practices, such as acupuncture, due to limited scientific studies supporting their efficacy. The knowledge of how to correctly design a controlled scientific study for acupuncture is still in its infancy. As acupuncture is relatively low-cost and has very few known side effects, it is an appealing treatment for patients. However, since acupuncture can’t be patented or sold at a high cost, like pharmaceutical medications, it unfortunately has very little appeal to draw funding for quality research to prove its worth. Nevertheless, Yale was able to explore this topic in the arena of addiction treatment.

Yale Study Focuses on Acupuncture’s Effects on Cocaine Addiction

All 82 participants in the study at Yale University were addicted to cocaine and received individual and group counseling to help them gain sobriety. Simultaneously with psychological therapy, they were divided into three distinct treatment groups for eight weeks who were given:

  1. Ear acupuncture with needles places in the outer ear in points that are part of an addiction protocol
  2. Ear acupuncture in points on the outer ear that were not related to addiction
  3. Videotapes that showed serene pictures of natural settings

Results of the Yale Acupuncture Study

The findings of the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed promise for acupuncture’s use in the battle against addiction. After crunching the numbers, researchers found the following:

  • Nearly 54 percent of patients receiving the addiction-specific acupuncture tested clean of cocaine in the final week of the study.
  • The non-addiction specific acupuncture group and videotape group had 23.5 percent and 9.1 percent testing clean, respectively.
  • The addiction-specific acupuncture group also had longer periods maintaining sobriety than either of the two other groups.

Evidence such as this supports acupuncture’s use as an adjunct therapy to standard Western treatment. The two philosophies working together may be better than either one individually.

If you have an opinion on alternative therapies and their effectiveness for the treatment of addiction, we would love to hear your thoughts below.