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CDATA Recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction is an ongoing process, and success is measured in small victories. In many cases, the initial hurdle of sobering up ends up being less of a challenge than staying sober. For some alcoholics, acupuncture is useful for resisting cravings and overcoming relapse.
Acupuncture is a Chinese practice with unclear origins, but it clearly dates back more than 2,000 years. Some sources say that soldiers wounded by arrows were able to overcome chronic diseases. Others imply that acupuncture was in use long before the days of bows and arrows.
The first Westerners to encounter acupuncture were missionaries from Portugal. They arrived in Asia in the 16th century and noted cases of acupuncture in Java and Japan. With the arrival of Western medicine in Asia, acupuncture went out of fashion for a few hundred years before resurging in the 20th century. By 1973, the United States Internal Revenue Service allowed tax payers to write off acupuncture as a healthcare expense.
IRS recognition signaled a turning point for acupuncture as a modern medical treatment. Today, the ancient Chinese art is being explored in a range of clinical settings. From a rehabilitation standpoint, it is believed that a regimen of acupuncture treatment can help weaken an alcoholic’s urge to drink.
Opinions on the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for alcoholism vary. It is, however, a widely recognized practice. Well-regarded medical institutions are exploring its role in modern medicine, and organizations like the Mayo Clinic maintain online records related to acupuncture.
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the skin at traditionally prescribed energy points. This is believed to balance the patient’s life force, or chi, which flows through 14 energy meridians. By puncturing strategic points along the patient’s meridians, the traditional acupuncturist aims to balance a person’s natural energy.
But there is a Westernized, scientific slant on acupuncture, as well. Some specialists believe that puncturing key points in the body stimulates muscles, nerves and other tissue. This light stimulus boosts blood flow and results in a disproportionate release of natural pain killers in the body.
It is the release of these pain killers and endorphins that potentially helps alcoholics. With this boost of natural calming agents in the blood stream, an addict will find it easier to resist the urge to relapse. Withdrawal systems weaken and cravings are not as severe. Some specialists even believe that acupuncture has the potential to eliminate toxins built up from substance abuse.
Best of all, this happens without synthetic treatments or drugs. An acupuncturist is able to help an alcoholic tap into their own natural pharmacy. Along these lines, acupuncture is an ideal complement to rehabilitation. Some rehab centers staff acupuncturists, while others can make referrals for interested patients.
Each acupuncturist has their own method of treatment. Some are purists and adhere to Far-Eastern practices, though many blend elements of East and West. Sessions last anywhere from a few minutes to about an hour.
Despite minor differences in practice, every acupuncture session includes the following elements:
* Puncturing: needles are thin enough that relatively little acute pain results from their insertion. Only a few needles are used in a typical treatment.
* Manipulation: after the needles are in place, the acupuncturist may lightly twirl them or apply heat.
* Removal: after the prescribed time, the needles are quickly and painlessly removed.
For an alcoholic seeking acupuncture rehabilitation treatment, it is important to minimize expectations and keep an open mind. Some patients respond rapidly to acupuncture; others see little in the way of results. Usually, it only takes a few sessions for an addict to determine if acupuncture is going to be a valuable rehabilitation tool.
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