Acupuncture for Addiction – all addictions are fundamentally based on craving, which is an attempt to grasp at the things we enjoy, to try and own them, to stop them from changing, and to want more and more of them. This grasping masks unbearable feelings of loneliness, panic, and inner emptiness, which creates an instant need to avoid these feelings with a craving addiction, which temporarily gives relief. The more we grasp, the more we suffer!

There are many kinds of addiction – drugs, gambling, sex, food, smoking, alcohol and so on, and maybe none of us are free from at least one of them? For any practitioner or helper for those suffering with addictions, frustration is the key word, as it is so difficult for addicts to free themselves from their craving, and they usually have to hit ‘rock bottom’ in order to make any real and lasting progress.  Addicts are usually unwilling to look at the real reasons why they have chosen their way of life, they are almost always in denial of their circumstances.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

In the short term, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses ‘ear acupuncture protocol,’ amongst other methods, to treat those addicted to drugs or any kind of addiction.

This protocol uses 5 Acupuncture points on the ear which are used for detoxification and calming:

  • Shenmen point – to calm the spirit, help sleep, reduces blood pressure.
  • Sympathetic point – pain reduction, and supports the digestive system.
  • Kidneys point – supports the Constitution and helps clear fear.
  • Liver point – cleanses blood and helps clear anger.
  • Lung point – helps clear grief, breathing and skin problems.

TCM treats the whole person, and over a period of time the main effect of addiction is Dehydration, (especially with those addicted to drugs and alcohol) i.e. the blood and body fluids weaken, creating many symptoms, the main one being internal heat, due to lack of body fluids not able to cool the system. All addictions will need to be treated with even deeper treatments, involving Nutrition, Body acupuncture points, and Chinese Herbal Medicine.

The main organs affected in this way are: The kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and Spleen/Pancreas.

The symptoms of kidney dehydration are:
Malar flush (centre of cheeks are red), thirst, constipation, dark urine, palms and soles hot, night sweats.

The symptoms of Liver dehydration are:
Dull pale face, emaciated, dizziness. Muscles can be weak, numb, in spasm, and trembling.Dry eyes, blurred vision, spots in the visual field, and pale, dry and brittle nails.Women may have Amenorrhoea or scanty menses. Dry cough, feeling of heat in the evening, night sweating.The liver is known as ‘The Seat of the emotions’.

The symptoms of Heart dehydration are:
Dull pale face, palpitations, poor memory, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, malar flush, feelings of heat.

The symptoms of Lung dehydration are:
Dry cough or with a little sticky sputum, blood-tinged sputum, low grade fever in the afternoon, feeling of heat in the afternoon or evening, malar flush, night sweating. Soles of feet, palms, and chest feel hot, insomnia, dry mouth and throat, hoarse voice, tickly throat.

The symptoms of Spleen dehydration are:
Dry lips, Constipation.

Therefore the long-term treatment is to restore the damaged body fluids, i.e. reversing the symptoms.Emotionally, because of dehydration, symptoms of internal heat will predominate, and heat is the great agitator.  Therefore, a person will experience irritability which can lead to anger, which in turn can become rage in cases of severe dehydration i.e. severe heat.

An example of severe heat would be the violent alcoholic with a very red face, (redness anywhere on the surface of the body means heat). The next question is: Where is this heat coming from? In this case, heat is rising up into the head from the Liver, as long term drinking of alcohol dries up the liver, eventually leading to cirrhosis. Also heat is why most persons addicted to drugs, and other types of addiction with heat symptoms at night, go to bed in the early hours, or stay up all night, exhausting themselves, unable to sleep due to the internal heat creating restlessness and insomnia.

Most addictions are treated by reducing internal heat by increasing body fluids, which decreases restlessness and anxiety, so treatment will always have the effect of calming as well as detoxification and re-hydration.

However, with constant abuse, and depending on the person’s Constitution, energy resources within the body also deplete, and feelings of internal agitation coupled with external coldness prevail – the coldness manifesting more intensely during the day – i.e. cold hands and feet.

The final outcome of repeated abuse is a serious deficiency of energy, which means there is no longer enough energy to circulate or make blood, and protect the body from cold invasion, so eventually the excess internal heat is cooled down, which in turn leads to the body’s natural heat cooling (i.e. the metabolism – which slows down creating stagnation throughout the body).

Finally, and only in very severe cases, the Constitutional energy (i.e. the Kidney energy) collapses and the heart stops beating.  Addictions of any kind, are characterised by ‘withdrawal symptoms’, and can be very difficult to resolve, so counselling is always recommended.

O Force compelled, fate driven, earth-born race,
O petty adventurers in an infinite world,
And prisoners of a dwarf humanity.
How long will you tread the circling tracks of mind,
Around your little self and petty things?
But not for a changeless littleness were you meant,
Not for vain repetition were you built.
Almighty powers are shut in nature’s cells.
A greater destiny awaits you in your front.
The life you lead conceals the light you are.
– Sri Aurobindo.