Acupuncture for Drug Addiction

Acupuncture therapy is a type of alternative medicine derived from ancient Chinese techniques. It’s also been used to treat various medical conditions in Western countries for more than four decades.

During acupuncture treatment, trained practitioners insert microscopically thin needles into designated pressure points to relieve stress, chronic pain, acute health issues and other concerns. Research from organizations such as the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association indicates that acupuncture is also an effective treatment for substance abuse disorder as part of a holistic recovery program. More than 250 hospitals in the United States and the United Kingdom currently use the NADA acupuncture protocol.

The Research on Acupuncture Treatment and Substance Abuse

A 2012 systematic review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine analyzed English-language and Chinese-language research published on acupuncture and addiction recovery since the 1970s. The authors found that the majority of studies to date support the efficacy of acupuncture for drug addiction.

In 2017, a study published in Behavioral Science specifically looked at the NADA acupuncture protocol described in the next section. Researchers found that people in traditional addiction recovery programs who received auricle acupuncture reported:

  • Less tobacco and alcohol use at 3-month and 6-month follow-up appointments
  • Higher energy levels
  • Better overall quality of life
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Lower stress

Western scientists tend to focus on the biological effects of acupuncture. For example, they speculate that the needles may stimulate dopamine release that improves mood and relieves pain. The Cleveland Clinic reports that the treatment is safe and effective, even for pregnant women and others who want to recover from addictions without the use of other drugs and medications.

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Acupuncture Protocol by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

NADA developed a protocol for the use of acupuncture for mental health, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. During NADA acupuncture treatments, your acupuncturist will gently place small needles into five points on each of your ears. Then, you’ll relax quietly with others in your treatment group for about 45 minutes.
Each needle corresponds to a pressure point that affects one of these areas:

  • Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The parasympathetic nervous system regulates healthy digestion and a regular sleep cycle, while the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight-or-flight response that may take over during detox and recovery.
  • Shen Men, known in ancient Chinese medicine as the Heavenly Gate or Divine Point. This pressure point calms both the body and mind, encourages the removal of harmful substances and eases discomfort. It also helps boost the effects of acupuncture treatments on the other four pressure points.
  • Lung point. Activation of this pressure point helps ease breathing and provides emotional release.
  • Liver point. Acupuncture treatments that target this area can help detox the body, boost confidence and alleviate feelings of anger.
  • Kidney point. Activating this area may reduce feelings of despair and encourage organ healing.

NADA offers training on this protocol to various health care providers and community groups, including but not limited to:

  • Social workers
  • Therapists
  • Harm reduction and addiction counselors
  • Drug court providers
  • Trauma support and disaster relief teams
  • Physicians, nurses, first responders and other health care providers
Study with chair at our residential drug rehab


Substance use disorder often begins in the mind. We provide daily services to help our guests restore proper cognitive thinking and processing skills. Our experienced clinicians foster healing through group therapy and individual therapy sessions using the latest advances in research in the mental health field.

The professionals at Serenity Springs realize that drinking and illicit drug use are often symptoms of mental health disorders and rarely the root cause. The goal is to have guests leave the program with mental clarity and an understanding of their situation.

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Yoga session taking place outside of our residential treatment center


Drug and alcohol abuse can destroy the body. Serenity Springs’ treatment options help the body heal through proper nutrition, exercise, and supplementation. You’ll be able to begin healing physically on day one of treatment.

Our delicious meals are prepared by a professional chef. Additionally, guests at our Florida rehab center have access to healthy snacks 24 hours a day. Our mission is to have guests leave Serenity Springs with their bodies feeling completely rejuvenated.

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Looking out on the beach through the tall grass


Our treatment program is one of the best male rehabilitation centers in Florida—we go beyond the physical and mental to focus on the core of alcohol addiction: healing broken spirits. Beginning with daily meditation, guests work individually and in support groups every day to develop self-discipline and change their perspective on life.

Guests work through a 12-step program with experienced staff members who have recovered from addiction by going through the same process. With the framework to produce an influential spiritual experience, guests leave our substance abuse treatment program with newfound freedom and happiness they never thought possible.

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Benefits of NADA Acupuncture Treatments for Drug Treatment

NADA has designed its protocol to be appropriate across cultures, affordable and effective. The organization’s ear acupuncture technique was adapted for addiction treatment in the mid-1970s at Lincoln Hospital in South Bronx, New York. A group of physicians based the protocol on earlier research conducted on auricular acupuncture in Hong Kong.

Treatment facilities can implement this acupuncture technique as part of behavioral health and addiction treatment programs that incorporate medical and clinical recovery, education, individual counseling and group therapy.

The organization reports clear evidence that people who have NADA acupuncture treatments experience:

  • An enhanced sense of internal peace and fortitude
  • Fewer barriers to counseling and therapy
  • Reduced symptoms of trauma and stress, such as agitation, sleep issues and anxiety
  • Decreased physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms
  • Fewer cravings for drugs, alcohol and nicotine during recovery

According to the Cleveland Clinic, therapists have used this form of acupuncture to help patients cope with trauma and natural disasters, including after events such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Future research may focus on how these paper-thin needles can create a possible mechanism for lasting recovery without adverse effects.

2-bed bedroom in our residential drug rehab

A Holistic Approach to Men’s Recovery at Serenity Springs

Serenity Springs Recovery Center provides evidence-based complementary medicine as part of our holistic men’s addiction treatment services. If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, our intake teams can provide more information about how we use alternative and complementary medicine approaches such as acupuncture, yoga, EMDR therapy and meditation to help ease drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Along with approaches such as dialectical behavioral therapy, these alternative therapies help clients address the mechanism underlying their addictions. The Cleveland Clinic reports that acupuncture is more effective for substance abuse when combined with support groups and other behavioral therapies rather than as a stand-alone treatment modality.

Men can enroll in residential rehabilitation, partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs at our addiction recovery treatment center. We also provide treatment options for people who have a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder and a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. All our addiction recovery and mental health programs emphasize a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit. Contact us today to learn more about the admissions process for you or a family member struggling with substance addiction or alcohol abuse.