Acupuncture & Addiction

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Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine healing modality that is well known for its healing properties as a holistic practice and has been scientifically proven to aid in healing a variety of illnesses and disorders. Thin needles are used to stimulate various points on the skin’s surface which activates certain organs, systems, and body parts. Addiction treatment and recovery programs have started to incorporate the practice to complement traditional treatment programs. 

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is a Chinese medicine modality that has been practiced for over 2500 years. In traditional Chinese medicine theory, ‘Qi’ (pronounced, chee) is the body’s energy source, that when hindered from movement or unequally balanced, can cause various dysfunctions and illnesses that disrupt a person’s wellness and ability to heal. The intention of the practice is to pinpoint body parts that help activate the movement of Qi and energy flow, which then brings the body back into a whole-being balance. In modern medicine, acupuncture is well valued for its healing and medicinal properties.

How Does Acupuncture Help with Addiction?

Addiction disorders, mental illnesses, and disordered behavioral patterns affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. These whole-person imbalances create a wide array of issues for a person’s health and a general sense of well-being. In combination with proven recovery treatment options, acupuncture has been known to help manage symptoms and restore balance due to addiction disorders. 

What Does Acupuncture Help With?

A person’s addiction and recovery process can produce a wide array of symptoms. Some people experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms, unbearable cravings, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and a general sense of feeling foggy and displaced. Acupuncture has been proven to improve withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, improve sleep, help with anxiety and depression, manage aggression, and help circulation and the detoxification process. Research shows that acupuncture therapy can elevate the level of endorphins in the body, which provides relief from cravings and calms the nerves.

What to Expect from Acupuncture Sessions

Like many other holistic practices, acupuncture is not a “one and done” process. The treatments physically affect people in various ways. Some will feel energized and activated immediately following a session, and some people don’t necessarily feel any effects immediately following their first procedure. Over time, people begin to see results with consistent treatments and therapies. Most sessions are 60 to 90 minutes, and typically the specialist will do a full health screening and ask about symptoms and illnesses prior to any manual therapy. The actual treatment can last up to 30 minutes, but you may or may not have needles in your skin for that long.

Does it Hurt?

The idea of needles poking into our skin may be somewhat frightening, as a lot of us have had uncomfortable experiences with needles in the past. Acupuncture is minimally invasive, meaning the needles hardly penetrate the skin and are very thin. It does not hurt to experience acupuncture and is not something to be afraid of. However, if this is a concern, your acupuncturist can talk to you about how to make the procedure more comfortable. 

How Do I Find an Acupuncturist?

Many mental health or recovery centers have acupuncturists that specialize in addiction, mental health, and recovery work. All acupuncturists go to school and obtain a specialized degree in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, and have to be accredited by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture. If they are a Doctor of Acupuncture, they should have LAc after their name. It is recommended to seek acupuncture within a recovery center, as most acupuncturists do specialize in specific illnesses and disorders, and finding one for addiction recovery may be more challenging outside of a center. However, you can typically search online for an acupuncturist in your area, and you should be able to find someone (or many people) who practices locally.

How Much Do Sessions Cost?

Many insurance plans cover acupuncture, but if yours doesn’t, sessions can be anywhere from $50 to $150 each. According to Thumbtack, a company that connects customers to professionals, the average cost for an acupuncturist in San Francisco, California is $85 per session. The average cost of an acupuncturist in Austin, Texas and Saint Louis, Missouri ranges from $60 to 85 per session.

What Else Should I Know?

Acupuncture is most likely not the miracle cure for all of our issues, but there is a reason that it has been around for 2500 years and continues to have researched back the evidence of its healing properties. Some ailments that acupuncture has been scientifically proven to help with are allergies, anxiety, and depression, chronic pain, hypertension, insomnia, menstrual cramps and PMS, migraines, morning sickness, osteoarthritis, and strokes. There is a lack of evidence for its aiding in acne, cancer pain, and infertility, however, it is still used for many of these ailments and more. 


Acupuncture is a modality of traditional Chinese medicine that can treat a wide variety of illnesses and disorders including addiction. The premise of acupuncture is to unblock energy within the body, to restore wellness. At Avalon Malibu, we understand that every person is different and has different needs throughout their process. We believe it is not only important but necessary to honor those differences in order to succeed. We offer many different approaches, including acupuncture, that enable us to create a program to meet your specific needs. Holistic practices are powerful ways to not only prevent illness and nourish our well-being but also help us to better understand ourselves mentally and spiritually. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call us today at (844) 857-5992. Our experienced professionals will provide the support and guidance you need to achieve sustained recovery, such as long-term life skills and healthy coping mechanisms.

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