Acupuncture & Substance Abuse Prevention
Written by: Leah Chischilly, Manager of Clinical Operations, Modern Acupuncture
October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, and amidst the opioid crisis, the focus has become more critical than ever. According to the CDC over 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017. About 68% of the deaths were attributed to opioids (prescription or illicit). Those statistics alone are startling, but they don’t even account for other serious health concerns that can arise as a result of drug or alcohol abuse.
When you mention substance abuse, people often picture a down-and-out person on the street with a heavy addiction to something like heroin, meth, or cocaine. By definition, substance abuse is the overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs.
Truly, substance abuse can affect anyone and often lies hidden by those we interact with daily.
While the evidence is inconclusive on whether or not acupuncture can help with detox, withdrawal and rehabilitation, research heavily supports acupuncture’s ability to treat two common reasons people often turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place; pain and stress.
No one wants to be in pain. The discomfort is unsettling, and it disrupts daily activities and the ability to keep up with life. More than anything, people don’t have time to be in pain. So, they turn to the quickest and easiest option to get rid of it: medication. While medicine is great for the quick fix to get through the day, what happens when it wears off? The pain is still there, which also means the problem is still there. Often people continue to take medication for the symptom of pain, but never address the real problem. So, the pain persists as does the dependence on medication and the need for higher doses as the body adapts.
Acupuncture treatments not only serve to relieve the symptom of pain, but they also stimulate the body’s ability to heal. When you opt for acupuncture for pain relief instead of medication, you are opting to address the root of the problem instead of just the symptoms. You are also saving yourself the likelihood of becoming dependent on medication.
What about stress? It’s a common practice for many people to rely on alcohol to relieve stress. While a glass of wine after a long day may be fine on occasion, for some, it becomes a necessity. Without seeking other ways to manage stress, the stress remains, and so does the dependence on a substance to relieve it. Just like medication, the need for more alcohol may arise as the body adapts.
Acupuncture is an excellent stress reliever. The simple act of deliberately taking a time out can profoundly impact a person’s stress levels. Adding acupuncture into the mix only enhances the effect and eliminates the need for chemical relief.
It is important to note that acupuncture is not the quick-fix approach and it could take several treatments for people to find the relief they are seeking.
While there is a lot of work to be done to help those already struggling with substance abuse and addiction, a focus on prevention can go a long way. If you are concerned about someone who is in pain or under a lot of stress, encourage them to experience acupuncture. It may just save their life.
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