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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture Approach to Addiction 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture Approach to Addiction
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture Approach to Addiction

Shahla J. Modir

, and Joel Morris

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date: 23 September 2021

The first half of this chapter paints a broad overview of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) with a focus on addiction. The second half details the Western studies, which address specific addictive substances. A glimpse of TCM’s history in the context of the medical models is discussed. The Western medical model is compared to and differentiated from TCM. Yin-yang and 5-element theory are detailed. The Zang Fu patterns are examined along with the principles of treatment and recognition of patterns. The 3 treasures (jing, qi, and shen) are discussed. Acupuncture was serendipitously found to be an addiction treatment with EA (electro acupuncture) and auricular points in 1972, which suggested a neuroendocrinological basis. Animal studies pointed toward involvement of different neurotransmitters in the basic mechanism of acupuncture, which are: the dopamine, GABAeric, and serotonergic systems. Most of the quality Western studies use the NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocols, which use 5 auricular points: shen men, kidney, liver, and lung. This protocol treats opiates, cocaine, nicotine, and AUDs. Regarding opiate detoxification, addicts assigned to the treatment groups were more consistent and more frequently attended treatment. Regarding alcohol, female participants (N = 185) who received acupuncture reported a decrease in cravings, depression, and anxiety with an increase in problem solving, when compared to controls (N = 101). There is less evidence that acupuncture is helpful for cocaine and nicotine. Acupuncture appears most helpful as an adjunct therapy, which keeps people more engaged in therapy longer, resulting in better outcomes.

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