Can Acupuncture Really Stop Alcoholics From Drinking?
Sometimes it seems like alcoholism and alcohol abuse are the silent killers in our society. While the current epidemic of opiate abuse is currently getting all the press, the abuse of alcohol is continuing unabated, still taking lives, still ruining families, and still undermining the very fabric of our society.
The fact that alcohol takes so many lives comes as a surprise to many. With all the talk of heroin-related overdoses and the need for emergency intervention, it is easy to think that the opioid epidemic is the real killer. What many people do not know is that alcohol is an even bigger killer, taking some 88,000 lives each and every year. Some of those deaths are related to drunk driving car crashes, while others are the result of long-term abuse and the liver damage it creates. No matter what the cause, it is clear that alcohol abuse can kill, and that alcoholics need all the help they can get to stop drinking and live a healthier and more successful lifestyle.
More Than Just 12-Step Programs
When non-drinker thinks about alcoholism and stopping drinking, they probably think first of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, but those groups are not the only path to sobriety. In fact, there has been a growing interest in alternative forms of treatment in recent years, and the results of a recent study show that something as simple as acupuncture could be a big help in helping problem drinkers stop drinking and stay sober for a lifetime.
This recent study looked at the effect of acupuncture treatment on problem drinkers. The study looked at a number of factors, including the impact of acupuncture on various symptoms associated with alcoholism and the effects of problem drinking.
Early Results Are Promising
While it is clear that further study is still needed to determine just how effective acupuncture is in alcohol treatment, the early results from the August 2016 survey are certainly interesting. Those results could mean that problem drinkers should feel free to explore this alternative form of treatment. Acupuncture is a non-invasive form of treatment and one that has been used successfully for thousands of years. Acupuncture has been used to treat other intractable conditions, like chronic pain, arthritis, and a number of behavioral issues. In that light, it makes sense that this alternative form of therapy could also have an impact on problem drinkers and alcoholics.
It is also important to note that the use of acupuncture for problem drinkers showed a stronger effect in the study than the control intervention. The use of a control group is standard practice in the world of clinical trials and the fact that acupuncture outperformed the control intervention is cause for hope – and for further study.
Reason for Caution
There are some important limitations in the August 2016 study of acupuncture as a treatment for alcoholism and problem drinking. One of the biggest problems with the study was its small sample size, and the small number of participants makes it hard to draw conclusions at this time. Once again, however, the non-invasive and benign nature of acupuncture treatment means that problem drinkers are free to try the process and monitor their own results. Problem drinkers who want to stop drinking may even want to cite the recent study to try to get their insurance carriers to cover the cost of treatment.
One significant concern did crop up in the analysis of the study data, and that involves the long-term efficacy of the acupuncture treatment. While the difference between the acupuncture group and the control group was significant, the difference was far less at a later follow-up. That would seem to suggest that relapse rates for alcoholics who underwent acupuncture therapy were quite high, something that problem drinkers and their families should keep in mind.
The Combination Approach to Treating Alcoholism
While acupuncture may be an effective treatment for problem drinking and alcoholism, it may not be used as the sole treatment. Acupuncture may be able to relieve the symptoms alcoholics experience, but a combination approach involving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy and support, online and offline support groups, and standard 12-step treatment may be more effective in the long run.
By now it should be dear that there is no magic bullet when it comes to stopping drinking and treating the effects of alcoholism. The results of the recent study are certainly intriguing, and they are surely a cause for further research. It is important to note that the use of acupuncture in addiction treatment is not a new concept and that it actually dates back to the 1970s.
Acupuncture as a Complimentary Treatment
In those early 1970s interventions, acupuncture was often used as a complementary treatment for all manner of addictions, including problem drinking and alcoholism. Throughout the years, the protocols used for both acupuncture addiction treatment and studies of its effectiveness have changed and evolved. As those treatment options have gotten better, the interest in acupuncture and other alternative therapies has grown, giving many people hope that a combination approach of standard and alternative treatments can help problem drinkers overcome their issues and get on the road to sobriety.
The specific impact of acupuncture on the symptoms of alcohol addiction is another reason for hope. A recent study showed that acupuncture gave problem drinkers significant relief from the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make stopping drinking so difficult. Other studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating alcohol-related behaviors, including reducing the amount consumed. As with every form of treatment, the effectiveness of acupuncture will surely vary from person to person, and no one approach will be right for everyone. What the study does show, however, is that problem drinkers have nothing to lose by trying acupuncture and other alternative forms of treatment.
If you suffer from alcoholism and have landed yourself in trouble because of it, we are here to help. If you have recently received a DWI as a result of your alcoholism, we advise you to contact our Houston DWI attorney to handle your case. Jim Butler invites you to call or contact us today with any questions you might have.