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October 2022

Bull Narc. 1988 ; 40(1): 35-41.

An acupuncture programme for the treatment of drug-addicted persons.

Smith MO, Khan I.

Substance Abuse Division, Lincoln Hospital, New York, New York.

Over the past 13 years, Lincoln Hospital, New York City, has used acupuncture as the primary method of treatment for drug-addicted persons. The programme receives, on a daily out-patient basis, 200 drug-addicted persons for detoxification. Acupuncture relieves withdrawal symptoms, prevents the craving for drugs and increases the rate of participation of patients in long-term treatment programmes. The best results have been obtained by treating patients in an open-group setting, using acupuncture points in the external ear with needles without electrical stimulation. The same points are used at each visit, regardless of the type of drug to which the person is addicted. This method is also used for the treatment of persons suffering from stress. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) has conducted successful training programmes for physicians and related staff in using the technique and philosophy of traditional Chinese acupuncture. These training programmes usually include courses in counseling skills, ethical responsibilities and sterilization procedures that are appropriate to local conditions. NADA has begun to operate a pilot programme to treat approximately 1,000 drug abusers and people who are under a high level of stress, which may lead them to the abuse of drugs. It is assumed that acupuncture, in conjunction with other drug-demand reduction programmes, can make a significant impact on the illicit demand for drugs by reaching this entire range of patients.

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