Acupuncture has many benefits including the ability to reduce pain, inflammation, and stress. It is minimally invasive and can be performed by skilled acupuncturists at an affordable cost. Since opioid addiction is on the rise, addiction specialists are looking for new treatment methods that can be highly-accessible for patients while providing an effective method of treatment. Acupuncture, specifically ear acupuncture, is becoming a possible treatment to help fight opioid addiction. Here is how you can use ear acupuncture for opioid addiction.
Why the Ear?
Acupuncture is generally performed on your back, chest, or limbs. Few acupuncture methods focus on your head, mainly because the skin on your head is very thin and cannot support needles well. However, ears and the areas around them are better for acupuncture. Your ear has a lot of nerve endings attached to it and has a direct connection to your brain. This makes it an effective location for acupuncture.
The Treatment Process
The treatment process for ear acupuncture is simple. You begin by sitting in a chair in the acupuncturist’s office. Your acupuncturist inserts up to five needles into the flesh of your ear. There are five specific points that he or she targets for different effects. The insertion is quick, taking only seconds or up to two minutes. The effects begin almost immediately.
Once the needles are in place, you sit there for 30-45 minutes and let the needles work. The environment is usually relaxing to help speed up the process. With such a short method, an acupuncturist can service many clients simultaneously and quickly.
How It Works
The needles stimulate your body to do several different things. They start by getting your body to relieve some of its muscle tension, which helps you relax. It also stimulates nerves and gets your brain to release hormones that bring pleasure and relaxation. Ear acupuncture is also thought to promote healing, especially among internal organs.
Effects on Opioid Addiction
Addiction to opioids messes with your brain chemistry. More specifically, opioids mimic the effects of morphine-like reducing pain by changing your brain chemistry. You become addicted because your brain stops producing chemicals that reduce pain naturally since your body believes that it has an abundance of those chemicals already. Once the opioid clears your system, your body doesn’t immediately start producing the chemicals that you need again, leading to severe withdrawal symptoms.
Ear acupuncture helps stimulate your body’s production of chemicals in the brain without the use of opioids. It can reduce your pain and stress levels as well, making it easier for your body to start working on chemical production naturally. Ear acupuncture can also help to reduce withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain so that your body is not panicking to try and find more opioids. In essence, it interferes with your addiction so that you can more easily resist opioids.
Why It Matters
When treating someone for opioid addiction, the methods are limited by their ability to deal with withdrawal symptoms. While there are medications for this, they are expensive and can be habit forming as well. Ear acupuncture does not have negative health effects from treatments. It is also significantly more affordable than withdrawal medications and can be made readily available thanks to health clinics. It is a quick and easy way to treat opioid addiction that is accessible to everyone.
If you or someone that you know needs an affordable and available treatment for opioid addiction, reach out to Thumos Health Center. Through acupuncture, we can help you start your path to recovery.
Located in Pacific Palisades, with satellite clinics in Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Beverly Hills, Thumos Health Center offers patients exceptional personalized care. If you are ready to take the first steps toward a more integrative approach to your health care, we invite you to phone 310-428-1215 to schedule an appointment at any of our Los Angeles locations. Our highly knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have.