Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

How can acupuncture treat addiction?

My son is addicted to cigarettes, and I'm looking into more... alternative ways to treat it, I guess I could say. The patch, gum, and anything else, didn't work for him at all. I heard acupuncture actually can help him, but this seems a little too out there for me. How can acupuncture be a way of treatment for addictions like smoking?

15 Answers

Nothing will treat addiction without the addicted person being determined to heal... at least that is my personal opinion. So coercing people into doing something they don't want to do is a failing strategy whatever treatment modality he/you chooses. Acupuncture is a little out there for most people. Science doesn't know how it works. It makes little logical sense. Yet the science demonstrates and confirms it has some measurable effect in reducing symptoms. And we literally get paid to stab people with sharp objects. Out there is probably the kindest thing I've been called by skeptics. :-)

I have experienced good results in my practice. I don't get a lot of smoking cessation treatment requests... but my results are about 50/50 quitting for some period of time.

I encourage you to get a treatment yourself while you all are there and get familiar with the effects so maybe we don't seem so "out there" after you have an experience with our ancient, fabulous medicine!
Acupuncture can be very effective but in my experience with treating smoking addiction, success comes when someone really wants to quit. If they don't have that desire, there isn't much any type of treatment (gum, patches, acupuncture, hypnosis, etc.) can do. When a patient is ready to make that commitment though, I work with both acupuncture and meditation to control cravings and create better, more healthful, habits that may trigger or go along with smoking.
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Addiction is hard, no way around that fact. Our medicine helps to bring balance back to the body to help it cope better. I use herbs and supplements also to make sure the body is well nourished. Acupuncture can help to calm the stress that goes along with the detox process as well. Not a guarantee like the rest. The person also has to be ready and committed to quitting. Without that, there will always be set backs.
I heard someone describe their response to acupuncture for smoking as it made a cigarette seem more like a hamburger than a fillet mignon. I use ear acupuncture for my cessation protocol, and some of the points deal with cravings, some with the emotional responses, some with the detox and withdrawal. There are lots of different acupuncture protocols for this, so if one doesn't work for your son, seek out another practitioner and try again.

He's still going to have to exert self control, change up his habits, and stay away from other smokers for a while. But remember, a craving only lasts 3 minutes, so if he can distract himself for 3 minutes, it will pass.

Hope this helps.
Because acupuncture can change body's biochemistry.
Nothing can help an addiction that is also feeding the addiction. That is why the patches and the gums don't work - they are still putting nicotine into his system. When it comes to substances that are legal (tobacco, alcohol, sugar, etc) it is difficult to quit unless the participant is WILLING and WANTING to quit. Without that will and want, there is nothing preventing the person from going out and getting the substance themselves - nothing inhibits a person's free will.

How does acupuncture work? There are points that help the person stay calm, so they don't need the substance to keep them calm. It helps regulate the body's systems (digestive, circulatory, sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system, respiratory, et al). It doesn't work by itself and it will not work if the patient is not willing to quit the lifestyle and become a non-smoker.

There is usually an herbal formula that assists the acupuncture treatment and there are counseling sessions the practitioner has with the patient and there is even a couple of points that can cause the patient to be repulsed by the scent of the cigarette.

It is best to work with someone who is familiar with working with this type of addiction, someone who has had experience and knows how to work with an addicted patient. So, when seeking a practitioner, be sure they know it's a process and will help guide your son. Before that, though, be sure that your son wants to make the change, because we cannot change his habits, only he can.

Good luck.
So, a lot of celebrities have turned to acupuncture for addiction control. There is even a special protocol named the NADA Protocol for addiction control and has been highly effective in helping patients quit.
Yes, there are many publications for case studies or clinical research.
Acupuncture is very good for addiction. There is an association--National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) for the addiction treatment by ear acupuncture. Please check with your local acupuncturist. Thank you
Acupuncture for smoking cessation is actually one of the most researched techniques that the western world has tackled. The protocol is called NADA and there are impressive statistics and testimonies. It works by inserting five needles in each ear that correspond to different organs. While I can say I have seen it work very well in my practice, the patient must have the will and the want to quit. If they are not ready it will not work.
First of all, to make any behavior change, the person must want to do so and must give themselves a positive goal to work towards, i.e., not quit smoking as compared to getting health, breathing better, tasting food better, etc. When we posit a negative, we invariably turn back towards it. That's why it's important to have a positive goal to work towards.</p><p>As to acupuncture, one of the treatments is the NADA protocol (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association). Dr. Michael Smith, in 1974, began using this protocol to treat heroin addiction. He was dissatisfied with the protocol at that time of treating heroin addiction by giving the patient methadone. In other words, taking them off an illegal drug and putting them on a legal drug. This did nothing to address addiction. The NADA protocol is very successful in empowering and calming the patient, and not only has had high success rates, but is also the main protocol used by Acupuncturist Without Borders when they go to disaster areas to treat stress and PTSD. If your son truly wants to stop smoking and get healthier, I suggest you go to (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) and find a practitioner who is board certified. Then call and see if they treat addiction and can help him get healthy.
Acupuncture can stop the cravings, help the lungs recover, ease the stress and side effects (irritability, headaches, etc.) of withdrawal. The hard part is forming new habits. Tring to find new things to do it the difficult part that drives many back to smoking. What you do with your morning coffee, while you're on the phone or right after meal? Forming new habits is vital to success. The cravings? Acupuncture rocks when it comes to cutting the cravings.
Good morning,
Acupuncture does work to quit smoking by reducing the desire. But acupuncture is not a miracle to totally forget the cigarette.
Yes, it can help to reduce cravings and calm withdrawal symptoms. I hear the laser treatment works best.
First off, there are very few therapies of any sort that will help him quit smoking if he's not ready to quit smoking. In other words: there aren't really any treatments which will force him to do something he otherwise doesn't want to do.

That being said, what acupuncture does is help manage cravings. Typically when treating addictions we use a set of 5 needles in the ear. These needles appear to be stimulating the GABA system in the brain. This system is responsible for chilling things out in the central nervous system which is why it can be effective for helping people quit addictive substances.

If this is a route you decide to try, in order to get the best possible result you will want to take him to either an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist. To find someone local to you, check out the "Find a Practitioner" link at Or you can find an Auricular Detox Specialist near you by contacting the folks at (