Review Article

Neurochemical Research

, Volume 33, Issue 10, pp 2013-2022

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Drug Addiction

  • Cai-Lian CuiAffiliated withNeuroscience Research Institute, Peking UniversityDepartment of Neurobiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking UniversityKey Lab for Neuroscience, The Ministry of EducationKey Lab for Neuroscience, The Ministry of Public Health Email author 
  • , Liu-Zhen WuAffiliated withNeuroscience Research Institute, Peking UniversityDepartment of Neurobiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking UniversityKey Lab for Neuroscience, The Ministry of EducationKey Lab for Neuroscience, The Ministry of Public Health
  • , Fei LuoAffiliated withNeuroscience Research Institute, Peking UniversityDepartment of Neurobiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking UniversityKey Lab for Neuroscience, The Ministry of EducationKey Lab for Neuroscience, The Ministry of Public HealthKey Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

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Abstract

Over the last three decades there has been an increasing interest in acupuncture treatment of substance abuse around the world. Three important steps can be identified in this field. Dr. Wen of Hong Kong was the first (1972) to report that acupuncture at 4 body points and 2 ear points combined with electrical stimulation can relieve opioid withdrawal signs in the addicts. The second major step was made by Dr. M. Smith in New York, the head of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) of the USA, who finalized a protocol (1985), using only ear points without electrical stimulation for the treatment of drug abuse. The recent advance in this field was made by Dr. Han of the Peking University, Beijing, who characterized a protocol (2005), using electrical stimulation of identified frequencies on body points to ameliorate heroin withdrawal signs and prevent relapse of heroin use. In this review, the efficacy of acupuncture and related techniques for the treatment of drug dependence in experimental settings and clinical practice will be reviewed, and the possible mechanisms underlying this effect be discussed.

Keywords

Acupuncture Drug addiction Withdrawal syndrome Relapse