A neurosurgeon in Hong Kong by the name of Dr. H. L. Wen found out in 1972, that the acupuncture treatment he performed on a surgical patient for analgesic purposes also led to the reduction of the opium craving and withdrawal of the patient. The good doctor adopted the ear or auricular acupuncture procedure in which acupoints are used to relieve pain throughout the body. He also did some research on ear acupuncture on several addicts, and discovered that he can attain a high percentage of success in the recovery of all types of addiction. Ear acupuncture, by 1974, was adopted by the South Bronx Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York for the detoxification and recovery of drug addicts in conjunction with methadone therapies.
Eventually, because of acupuncture extreme effectiveness, methadone was dropped. From then on, drug addiction detoxification and recovery clinics using ear acupuncture have been created in most major cities in the U.S.
Although these acupuncture clinics are funded by the public, Medicaid and Medicare have decided not to fund them. Despite the incredible data (anecdotal and scientifically proven) in favor of acupuncture, the US Food and Drug Association decided that acupuncture is still an “experimental” type of treatment. This decision all but classified acupuncture as an alternative type of treatment that cannot be granted government insurance and dissuading private insurers from giving coverage.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is part of a larger Chinese medical tradition known as TCM or Traditional Chinese medicine, which is based on the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine or Nei Ching. This ancient document is estimated to be 2,500 years old, at least which makes the FDA decision of classifying acupuncture “experimental” as highly questionable.
There are five branches of TCM: a one-of-a-kind body/mind psychology; energetic modalities such as Tui Na massage, and Qi gong; dietetics, herbal pharmacology; and acupuncture /acupressure.
The principle behind TCM is centered on the belief that bio-electromagnetic vital energy known as chi or qi circulates throughout the body via a dozen main meridians or energy channels. Acupuncturists have been able to identify around a hundred major acupoints along these meridians. Chi is a singular form of bioelectrical energy with innate intelligence, akin to the forces of nature.
The 12 meridians are situated in the energetic or subtle body that serves as the energetic blueprint for the physical body. When the chi circulates smoothly and is in adequate levels, TCM practitioners see that as a sign of good health, harmony, and balance, which in Western medicine means a state of optimum health.
On the other hand, when there is a blockage in the flow of chi, the body will start to experience disease which will eventually show in the body. Thus, in a state of disharmony and imbalance, sickness and disease arise. The needles are inserted into strategic points to stimulate chi and remove the obstructions in chi flow.
Ear or auricular acupuncture is a subcategory of acupuncture. Auricular acupuncture is grounded on the principle that the macrocosm of the meridians of the body has a miniature similarity found in the ear. The hands, feet, or ear all contain mini-maps of the 12 meridian energetic systems for the whole body.
Basic Auriculotherapy Protocols for Addictions
The acupoints to be needled for treating addiction are determined from session to session although with regards to recovery protocols only one protocol is followed and never changes. There are a couple of basic ear acupuncture protocols adopted used for all types of addictions, which allow even non TCM professionals to perform them.
The NADA or National Acupuncture Detoxification Association is one protocol that utilizes five needle points in the ear: the autonomic point to help balance circulation and the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems; the shenmen point to relieve anxiety and stress; the C. kidney point, liver point, and the lung point.
Another protocol is the ACAD or American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders treatment. Same as NADA, this protocol uses the C. kidney, autonomic, and shenmen points. ACAD also utilizes three other points: the point zero for homeostatic balance, brain point for the endocrine glands, and the limbic system point for aggressive compulsive behavior.