How Acupuncture Affects Opiate Addiction
You’ve probably heard that opiates stimulate the release of biochemicals known as endorphins into the brain. When you take your drug of choice, your brain is flooded with dopamine, serotonin, and other endorphins that make you feel good. The same is true of acupuncture: With the use of miniscule needles, the doctor helps your body release endorphins in much the same way. This is not some fly-by-night therapy; the National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers training on what it calls auriculotherapy.
At the acupuncturist’s office, you will experience only a slight sensation when the doctor inserts the tiny, sterilized needles. They go into the outer ear, in an area known as the auricle, focusing on five specific points. Patients typically report that acupuncture is painless. The doctor adjusts the needles slightly and lets them remain in place for approximately one hour. While the needles do their job, you are permitted to relax or meditate, but you can also read or even chat with the office staff.
If you want to stop your opiate abuse but you find it very difficult, then acupuncture may be the boost you need. It will also enhance your natural ability to relax, especially if you feel plagued by anxiety or stress. Acupuncture also helps with other physiologic issues including pain, depression or mood disorders, allergies, and other ailments.Those who experience difficulty falling to sleep or remaining asleep are often relieved to discover that they can rest naturally after the benefits of acupuncture kick in.
If you’ve found yourself with an opiate addiction resulting from a painful medical condition or injury, you will be happy to learn that acupuncture is a proven therapy for pain relief. It’s important because you won’t be able to stop using pain pills if you can’t control your pain.
What Does It Cost?
Acupuncture is not cheap. You can expect to pay anything from $50 to $150 or more per session. Most insurance companies do not include it as a benefit. Medi-Cal patients in California were able to receive it as a covered benefit until 2008, when it fell victim to budget cuts enacted by Governor Schwarzenegger.
At the very least, call your insurance company and ask if it’s covered. If it’s not, then find out if you are eligible to participate in an affinity program. That’s when an acupuncturist agrees to treat patients who have insurance at rates set specially for them.
Another option is calling an acupuncture clinic in your area and ask about a community plan. This kind of plan involves acupuncture administered to a group of people who sit in one room and receive treatment at the same time. It saves time for the therapist, who passes this on to you in the form of reduced fees.
You can also try contacting a school of acupuncture if you have one in your neighborhood. A student will provide your treatment under direct supervision of an instructor, and costs will be minimal.
Some who can’t afford acupuncture regularly as part of an opiate treatment regimen go to sporadic sessions, figuring that some are better than none. You can try it on and off during your medication-assisted treatment. It might just make your recovery a little easier.