Using Acupuncture for Integrative Addiction Treatment

When a person is struggling with their mental health, it is common for loved ones to encourage them to seek treatment with a therapist. However, some people don’t feel motivated or willing to discuss their mental health issues with a therapist. Nevertheless, it may be helpful for resistant individuals to know that mental health treatment extends beyond the realm of psychotherapy. For instance, there are forms of holistic healing that do not require verbal processing and many of these treatments complement traditional treatment quite well. More specifically, using acupuncture for addiction and mental health treatment can have many positive effects on an individual’s well-being.

At 12 South Recovery, we understand the many complex factors that contribute to the development of mental health conditions and substance use disorder (SUD). Rather than treating a client for a specific diagnosis, we treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – in tandem. To accomplish this, we incorporate a wide range of therapeutic modalities into our clients’ treatment plans, making strategic use of effective holistic treatments.

What Is Holistic Healing?

Commonly, those within the realm of treatment and recovery will refer to specific treatment approaches as either traditional or complementary. An example of a traditional treatment approach is psychotherapy, as mentioned earlier. Psychotherapy can take place one-on-one, between a therapist and a client, as well as within group settings. Furthermore, traditional treatment approaches usually create the foundation for client treatment plans.

Complementary treatment approaches, on the other hand, work to increase the effectiveness of traditional treatment approaches. Holistic modalities are just one example of complementary treatment. An article in the Western Journal of Medicine explains that “Holistic medicine is an attitudinal approach to health care rather than a particular set of techniques. It addresses the psychological, familial, societal, ethical and spiritual as well as biological dimensions of health and illness.”

In other words, holistic healing approaches work to obtain a balance of the mind, body, and spirit. Individuals who are new to the concept of holistic healing may question whether these treatments are effective and deserve a role in treatment. It may help to explain that the main goal of holistic healing is to provide opportunities for clients to understand their whole selves while strengthening self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-acceptance. In addition to acupuncture, other examples of holistic healing include mindfulness, breathwork, massage therapy, and reiki.

Using Acupuncture for the Mind, Body, and Spirit

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), “Acupuncture is a technique in which practitioners insert fine needles into the skin to treat health problems.” The initial use of acupuncture dates back nearly two,500 years, originating from traditional Chinese medicine.

In the book titled Acupuncture by Michele Van Hal, Alexander M. Dydyk, and Michael S. Green, the authors explain that acupuncture follows specific philosophical principles. These principles include that “health stems from the alignment of qi which means ‘vital energy’ and encompasses the yin/yang dichotomy that flows through all of the physical worlds.”

A Focus on Interconnection

What’s more, the authors explain that there are five elements within the foundation of this “vital energy” or qi: wood, water, fire, earth, and metal. In Chinese medicine, these elements are found throughout nature as well as in each individual’s body. The authors state, “A blockage or excess of any disrupts this vital energy. Acupuncture aims to open the blockage or reduce the excess of qi flowing through specific channels in the body, known as meridians.”

Among acupuncture practitioners, health is regarded as the interconnection of all elements of wellness rather than the mere absence of disease. Thus, while balancing qi through acupuncture restores a fundamental interconnectedness, it also restores wellness.

Using Acupuncture for Mental Wellness: The Evidence

Although there is a limited understanding of how acupuncture works, there is evidence that acupuncture can have profound benefits for an individual’s mental well-being. For instance, an article by PLoS One explains how stress is a result of an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Further, “Basic research regarding the central effects of acupuncture showed that acupuncture is able to balance the sympathetic (activating) and parasympathetic (regenerating) parts of the vegetative nervous system.” As a result, acupuncture directly reduces feelings of stress and anxiety.

Another article published in Medical Acupuncture discusses the long-term effects of acupuncture on heart rate variability (HRV) and associated physiologic stress. The study group consisted of patients being treated for hypertension over the course of weeks and months. Their HRV was monitored before and after needle placement. The study found that patients tended to experience an increase in HRV after needling and, “in some instances, an increase in HRV over weeks to months.” Increased HRV indicated a relative decrease in physiologic stress.

Mental Health and Addiction Treatment at 12 South Recovery

At 12 South Recovery, we are passionate about helping our clients overcome mental health problems as well as issues with substance misuse or abuse. We curate individualized treatment plans based on an individual’s unique needs and goals. In addition, we also incorporate holistic treatments to ensure that a client is experiencing a well-rounded treatment and recovery experience.

No matter why an individual is struggling, we believe that holistic interventions can help them achieve stress relief and greater self-awareness. In turn, individuals will feel more fulfilled and motivated to achieve long-term goals, both within and outside of the treatment center.

Holistic treatments complement traditional treatment interventions such as individual counseling and group therapy. Using acupuncture for mental health and addiction treatment, for example, can balance the mind, body, and spirit in tandem as clients work toward lasting symptom management. If you or a loved one could benefit from acupuncture, reach out to us at 12 South Recovery. We can create customizable, individualized treatment plans for you to ensure that your treatment experience is worthwhile and healing. We provide a wide range of outpatient programs and therapeutic interventions that can be adjusted to fit your unique needs and goals. While we offer standard therapies, we also offer effective holistic options like acupuncture. To learn more, call us at (888) 830-8374.

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