When battling the dual diagnosis of alcoholism and depression it is helpful to employ all possible tools available. Each of the disorders on their own are difficult and complex, but together they form a very challenging diagnosis that requires some thinking outside the box. While traditional treatment measures can ease symptoms somewhat, eastern medicine, in the form of acupuncture, can yield enhanced treatment results.
Using acupuncture for alcoholism and depression is becoming an increasingly common adjunctive therapy at dual diagnosis rehabilitation centers. Holistic therapies in general are definitely trending in the field of addiction recovery, and for good reason. Combining western with eastern medicinal treatments can provide better recovery outcomes. Holistic therapies, such as acupuncture, tend to address underlying contributing factors to alcohol addiction and should be made routinely available as a valid treatment element.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves piercing the skin with thin needs at strategic locations on the body. These locations are located along “meridians” through which energy is said to flow. The Chinese call this energy Qi, or life energy. The purpose of acupuncture is to open up the obstructions along a particular meridian, allowing the body functions to be improved and symptoms of disease to diminish.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Since being FDA approved in 1996, acupuncture has gone from being a fringe, unfamiliar eastern practice to a much more mainstream holistic treatment option for a variety of ailments, both physical and psychological. Millions of Americans use acupuncture to treat an array of health conditions each year.
Acupuncture basically activates the body’s own self-healing mechanism. By stimulating the nerves that lie close to the surface of the skin, acupuncture can stimulate organs, body tissues, glands, and body functions, which can lead to symptomatic relief. Acupuncture has been used widely for treating neck and back pain, chronic headache, fertility problems, and painful menstrual cramps. In recent years it has been found that acupuncture for alcoholism and depression is a valuable dual diagnosis treatment element, addressing both a substance use disorder and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Acupuncture for Treating Alcoholism
The use of acupuncture for treating alcoholism was thought by the Chinese practitioners to help rebalance energy in the body, particularly the “liver qi stagnation with fire,” It is believed that the body is out of balance, specifically the liver. By using acupuncture, it has been shown that alcoholics or addicts helps reduce cravings and has a calming effect.
Acupuncture for alcoholism involves what is referred to as “5 element acupuncture,” meaning the piercing of five locations in and around the ear, or auricular acupuncture. The process takes about 30 minutes and effects include:
- Reduced cravings
- Reduced use of alcohol
- Increased relaxation
- Improved overall wellbeing
- Reduced anxiety
- A sense of peacefulness
A meta-analysis of clinical studies of acupuncture as an adjunct treatment measure for alcoholism demonstrated overall that acupuncture was “potentially effective in reducing alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms…”
Acupuncture for Treating Depression
Using acupuncture to treat depression as a complimentary measure, along with antidepressant drug therapy, has also shown great promise in relieving the debilitating symptoms associated with major depression. It is thought that this effect can be due to the way acupuncture induces the release of the brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Acupuncture has been studied as a stand alone treatment for depression. The study results that examined acupuncture as complimentary to either antidepressants or psychotherapy, however, demonstrated more strident effects on depression symptoms that using acupuncture alone.
To ease depression symptoms, acupuncture “acupoints” include:
- Master of Heart 6
When compared with antidepressants, acupuncture is much better tolerated with few reported adverse effects. Some transient side effects, such as itching at the acupoint or tiredness, resolved spontaneously. Antidepressants, however, have a long list of very unpleasant effects, such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, blurred vision, nausea, and headaches. If someone cannot tolerate the antidepressants, pairing acupuncture with psychotherapy may be the better option.
Acupuncture as Part of the Program for Treating Alcoholism and Depression
An effective addiction treatment program will provide a multi-disciplinary approach to helping clients overcome drug or alcohol addiction. This is because treating only the obvious symptoms of the alcoholism will not translate to a sustained recovery. For treatment to produce successful long-term results it must address all aspects of the addiction—including sources of stress, frustration, anger, or sadness. The co-occurring disorders of alcoholism and depression require a treatment program that specializes in dual diagnosis programming.
To be able to do that, following a medically supervised detox, the individual needs to enroll in a comprehensive treatment program that will use various types of psychotherapy to help the person examine and process the sources of negative or triggering emotions, and then learn new coping skills and stress-reduction techniques. In addition to the individual therapy and group therapy sessions, an effective program will include experiential treatment elements as well as holistic therapies. By accessing all the various types of treatment, the individual battling alcoholism and depression has the opportunity to move forward in life, healthy, joyful, and alcohol-free.
Executive 7 Day Detox Offers Acupuncture in Its Treatment Program
Executive 7 Day Detox is an elite addiction recovery program designed for the busy professional who needs to jump-start the recovery process with a concise, efficient alcohol detox. At Executive 7 Day Detox we tailor the program to provide all the creature comforts a successful professional is accustomed to while undergoing the detox and withdrawal process. Executive 7 Day Detox offers acupuncture for alcoholism and depression treatment as one of several holistic therapeutic activities.
Once detox is successfully completed, our clinical staff will provide treatment options to the client for addressing the reflexive addictive behaviors that must be changed if a long-term recovery is to be achieved. An executive who cannot disengage entirely from the office might consider an outpatient program that allows more flexibility than an inpatient rehab. For more information about our detox program, please contact Executive 7 Day Detox today at (800) 381-0827.