What is Acu-Detoxification?

By 6th July 2016 July 26th, 2016 Guides
Acupuncture Detoxification Session

Acu-Detoxification is a modality that assists recovery in many ways.


Helps assists endorphin production for the capacity to cope with stress/craving. Helps assist the body’s natural detoxification and chemical production to relieve

withdrawal, craving, and other post-acute withdrawal symptoms.


Acts as a balancing component of an overall treatment program.

  • Physical and mental issues addressed no longer just psychosocial strategies.
  • Clients internal resources are strengthened for enhanced sense of  vitality and well being.
  • Helps the individual strengthen their acceptance of the potential to stay clean.
  • Client can experience internal relief from craving without external factors.


Lets the client engage in treatment in a non-threatening way with few verbal commands.

  • Important in early treatment when client may not be receptive to interventions.
  • Client participates meaningfully in a peer support group from the beginning.
  • While acupuncture detoxification creates vitality and strength, peer support allows nurturing.
  • Anxious/suspicious clients sit quietly, safely and benefits in a group setting.

Supports the Counselling Process

  • Staff cast in friendly vs. adversarial role without compromising the program.
  • Produces cheerful and co-operative atmosphere reduces violence and conflict.
  • Clients are calmer and more focused for participation in the counselling process.
  • Easy re-entry for relapses.

Especially Effective for Clients who:

  • May not be receptive initially to verbal counselling due to usage, withdrawal or other factors.
  • Are in denial and need to become more accepting of the need to be drug/alcohol free.
  • Are in emotional distress, anxiety, depression, acute or post-acute withdrawal.
  • Need a simple non-threatening yet structured opportunity to begin coping with chemical issues before engaging in a more formal treatment program.

Supports Administrative Process

  • Ordinary legal/security measures not needed for this safe procedure.
  • Rapid, inexpensive and does not require medical setting.
  • Very cost effective.
  • Fits well into existing treatment facilities, only needs a convenient space.
  • Barrier free, including language. No waiting lists and possible client loss.
  • Extensive history often not needed, saving time, paper and effort.
  • Confrontation or corroboration of information often not needed to begin with.

Clinical Effects of Acupuncture in Addiction

Patients Report:


  • Client says, I felt relaxed yet alert, or I could relax without getting high.
  • Prevents physical and psychological overwhelm
  • Relaxation provides relief from physical and psycho-emotional suffering which undercuts the primary motivation to take psychoactive substances.
  • If the treatment process can provide a pleasant form of relaxation this helps support the client’s ability to develop trust in the treatment process and the therapist.
  • The process is non-verbal and caring which undercuts strong verbal barriers to entering and remaining in treatment.
  • Clients experience directly that they have the capacity inside their bodies to feel good without taking drugs or alcohol, and develop trust in their body’s capacity to feel good and to heal.
  • Transference improves and is healthy.

Stress reduction

Substance miss-uses often have chaotic and stressful lives and they have considerable tension and defensiveness created by the problems they face in their lives. This reduces their ability to take advantage of therapy. Their stresses will often overwhelm them causing them to drop out of treatment.

Reduced cravings

  • This is not substance specific.
  • This effect is not tied to the resolution of personal problems.
  • Craving substantially reduces a client’s ability to take part in a program and will frequently result in drop out and relapse.

Reduction of withdrawal symptoms

  • Effect is not substance specific.
  • Symptoms surveys show  90% relief of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Clients with larger habits will usually require 48-72 hours to find complete relief, but this is relatively unimportant as long as they come back for treatment.
  • 90% of clients will return voluntarily without further incentives.

Clinical Effects of Acupuncture in Addiction

Optional.      Three general types of symptoms

  • Flu like symptoms, which are short term, these will usually be eliminated in 24/48 hours.
  • Symptoms of general toxicity of the nervous system, which has been weakened by chronic substance intake: irritability, restlessness, headaches, anxiety, impatience, easily frustrated, impulsive thoughts, depression, non specific physical pains, insomnia.
  • Symptoms of metabolic toxicity, acidosis, dehydration, increased respiratory rate, decreased volume of urination, high blood pressure, bone and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea-due to kidney and lung toxicity, increased white blood cell count-due  to removal of cellular waste and lack of appetite.

These symptoms occur when drugs are stopped, because drugs suppress the awareness of the body of metabolic toxicity and thus suppress the indication of the disease and because drugs suppress the metabolism and removal of toxic compounds and cellular waste.

Acupuncture aids the body to regain homeostasis in the detox process, drugs can rarely do this.

Clear mind, increased sence of purpose.

Better Sleep Pattern

  • Acupuncture will provide relief from most cases of insomnia in short term withdrawal and support deeper more refreshing sleep in later withdrawal.
  • This is an important asset to individuals being asked to experience greater sensitivity and return of their active psychic life.
  • Acupuncture helps promote REM sleep, which is usually disrupted by chemical abuse.
  • Clients report less drug and alcohol dreams.
  • Relief is not 100% and can be supported by herbal medications. Addicted patients are frequently depleted and exhausted, this is expresses as low energy, fatigue, poor digestion, low appetite, and can include sexual dysfunction and joint ache. These symptoms often compound guilt and poor self image problems which frequently characterise addiction. T.C.M describes these symptoms as deficiency symptoms which respond to the tonifying effects of acupuncture. Hard core substance abusers are very surprised to discover that these symptoms will improve and will also improve their motivation.

Psycho-social characteristics of nada protocol

A. It is a non-verbal process

  1. The treatment will be just as helpful if the client is not truthful about usage.
  2. The treatment will be just as helpful if the client is ashamed to speak about certain issues.
  3. The client will be able to learn about themselves and process troublesome issues more gradually and comfortably.

B. The client can be engaged in helpful treatment even before they are able to tolerate intense or personalised one to one comfortably

  1. The process of transference can be delayed.
  2. Needy, fearful clients can be engaged in treatment even before they can tolerate a bonding relationship with staff.
  3. Paranoid, antagonistic clients are able to accept help in spite of their lack of trust.
  4. Clients with low self-esteem and a lack of hope can begin their treatment participation at a realistic level.
  5. Clients who are also trauma victims will be able to participate in treatment even though they are fearful of interpersonal relations. Hence a much wider selection of clients can be introduced to substance abuse treatment.

C. Acupuncture provides a solution to some of the paradoxical problems in addiction treatment

  1. Clients can be treated before assessment and diagnosis are completed so that clients can be calm and co-operative enough for a useful diagnosis to be made.
  2. Confrontation about drug use is not necessary because a client can be helped even while they are in denial about the need for treatment.
  3. Developing trust between the therapist and client is much easier.
  4. The client can relax without losing control. Indeed the whole program can relax

D. Acupuncture helps develop a meditation-like state

  1. Clients become comfortable with their own thoughts.
  2. Clients become comfortable with their own physical processes.
  3. Clients learn to ‘let go’ of tension and pre-occupation’s.
  4. Clients develop their own spatial comfort zone.
  5. Clients learn that their private, internal process can be a source of strength and renewal.
  6. Clients are able to remain comfortable while focused on present time activities.
  7. The calm stability in the acupuncture setting creates a relatively timeless process. There is  much less pressure to improve according to guilt related standards.
  8. Acupuncture treatment in a group setting creates an environment which is reassuring and validating. As therapist’s we are welcome to join in this setting. We are able to be supportive witnesses for the client’s development.
  9. Hence clients listen, learn and remember without being overwhelmed by distractions.
  10. In summary, acupuncture helps the client participate in individual and group treatment sessions more effectively.

E. There are two components to acupuncture treatment

  1. A balancing process occurs almost immediately so that the client is more receptive to the message of treatment.
  2. Very anxious clients usually fall asleep during acupuncture treatment.
  3. Tired, apathetic clients report an increased sense of vitality during and immediately after treatment.
  4. Most clients experience a relaxing and centring feeling.
  5. As the number of treatment sessions increases, the client will feel relatively harmonious most of the time.
  6. Hence, experienced, successful clients will no longer fall asleep during sessions. The client will also not need to have acupuncture as frequently to gain the same effect.
  7. An outside observer might believe that acupuncture is less effective when the client no longer falls asleep in the session. It is important to understand that just the opposite is the case. Acupuncture treatments become more effective as time passes. The phenomenon of tolerance which is so typical in pharmaceutical medicine is not present with acupuncture.
  8. The actual ‘message’ component of an acupuncture treatment often has a delayed onset of several hours.
  9. As the client becomes more balanced and receptive, this message become more effective over a longer period of time.

F. Defending the mechanism of acupuncture as ‘stress relief’ is a  serious misunderstanding

  1. ‘Stress’ is usually someone else’s fault, so that treating the victim of stress can only be temporary at best, like giving a child an ice cream after a visit to the dentist.
  2. All of our clients know that alcohol, heroin, cocaine is an excellent treatment for stress.
  3. Acupuncture is valuable because it helps the client prepare for the future, not merely cope with the past.
  4. We should judge the value of an acupuncture session, not by the level of sedation during or after the session, but rather by how well prepared the clients are for counselling, group work and other challenges.

Acupuncture detoxification observations

By the client:

Greatly reduced cravings, greatly reduced stress

Much greater ability to solve problems in daily living

Creation of mental and physical stability

A drastic reduction of re-offending, criminal behaviour and violating supervision

Decrease in anxiety in and out of group settings

An internal experience leading to a responsible self-image

Relaxation either first time or the first time in recent memory

An ability to sit still and experience feelings

A sense of confidence that allows self-disclosure

A spiritual connection with others begins to resolve denial

Stability and continued abstinence after discharge

A strong desire to access and participate in 12-step peer support

Frequent voluntary requests for acupuncture protocol

By the staff:

Calmer, more co-operative

Better attention to material

Better retention of material

Less hostility

Reduction or elimination of medication

Less passive-aggressive behaviour

Less denial

Positive social interaction

Drastic reduction in re-offending or violating treatment rules