Acupuncture to Reduce Smoking, Drinking and Other Cravings
Do you have any habits or addictions in your life that you wish you could get rid of? Almost everybody has some sort of habit they struggle with. For some it’s stress-eating, nail biting or constant cell phone checking. For others it’s smoking, alcohol consumption or gambling.
Feeling like you can’t control behaviours like these can be incredibly frustrating. You may be fully aware of the damage that some of these habits do to your health and that awareness may make you want to quit but it doesn’t always make it easier to quit. These habits can rob you of your time and your wellbeing and leave you feeling helpless and sometimes even embarrassed.
How Acupuncture Can Help
As a naturopathic doctor, I’m licensed to perform acupuncture and I have found it to be a valuable tool for many conditions. Acupuncture has been used to manage addictions in hospitals and treatment programs for over thirty years in North America and around the world. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association developed a protocol that is the most commonly used protocol in these settings. Most of the research on this protocol revolves around reducing smoking and alcohol consumption but ongoing research is exploring how it can reduce other unhealthy habits.
Though the studies of this acupuncture protocol have had mixed results, many researchers agree that acupuncture can be useful for reducing addictions when combined with other treatments. I certainly don’t recommend this as a solo treatment, but I’ve had success using it when combine with other interventions like lifestyle changes, counselling, herbal and nutritional supplements or medications. The best combination of treatments will be different for everyone. I also like to combine this protocol with other traditional acupuncture points depending on your unique symptoms and health status.
Historically, acupuncture was found to make quitting addictive habits easier by reducing withdrawal symptoms, cravings, stress and irritability and improving wellbeing, sleep and energy. In my own practice, I’ve found acupuncture can indeed make quitting habits like smoking easier. I have even successfully used it to help with food addictions but using this acupuncture protocol for food addictions has not been scientifically studied to my knowledge.
If you’re thinking this is too good to be true, now’s a good time to talk about the catch. I find that acupuncture will not make somebody who is unwilling or not ready to quit a habit suddenly able to quit. I have only found it to be helpful for those who are ready to take action to quit and want support to make the quitting process less difficult. It is very important to understand that the acupuncture won’t do the work on its own. It’s meant to be an aid to help you as you do the work.
Breaking habits can be hard. If you’re ready to leave an unhealthy habit behind, get as much support around you as possible. This will increase your chances of success. Get your health back, get your time back, get your sense of self-command back and let your bad habit become a thing of the past.
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected]