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Alternative Methods for Conquering Addiction

Conquering Addiction Alternatively

default article imageNeedles. The pierce of the skin pinches and penetrates the body, often leaving a lingering, sometimes painful, and sometimes euphoric post-effect. While illicit drug users utilize needles as a means to inject harmful substances to their bodies, needles can also be strategically used to holistically cure the body of blocked energies that contribute to addiction.

It’s easy for college students to form addictive habits. Whether it is coffee, cigarettes, food, or alcohol, chances are you can think of one addictive trait that you have. These habits are unhealthy, but fortunately, there are a variety of ways to deal with all ranges of addiction.

Traditional addiction rehabilitation methods include practices such as the 12-step group program, and a raw detoxification regimen. However, according to the Freedom Center of the- US, around 22 million people who have attempted to go into rehab have been unsuccessful or discouraged by those who tell them how few people succeed after completing treatment.

 Acupuncture, one of the oldest forms of holistic medicine, has advanced into a successful, non-traditional addiction rehabilitation method used today.

According to the National Acupuncture Detox Association (NADA), medical research combined with experimentation has revealed acupuncture as a highly effective weapon in the battle against chemical dependency. The NADA website evidences clinical success stories that implicate the alleviation of serious withdrawal symptoms directly with the strategic pin pointing of needles, ultimately encouraging addicts to stick with a treatment regimen.

Licensed Acupuncturist and owner of the Sen Institute in Manasquan, NJ, Melissa Skelly, has been practicing acupuncture since 2008 after graduating from the Eastern School of Acupuncture in Montclair, NJ. For addiction purposes, Skelly most commonly treats people who are trying to stop smoking, with her experience indicating around an 80% success rate. “I will only take people into my stop smoking program who are serious about quitting smoking and willing to commit to a treatment plan,” said Skelly.

According to Skelly, the National Acupuncture Detox Association has formulated a specific 5-point protocol in the ear, where very thin needles are used to stimulate points that help to detoxify the body. She said that by using these points, the patient is able to relax, therefore helping their brain chemistry change to reduce cravings. The body is then capable of safely detoxifying with minimal or no side effects.

Skelly also said that for detoxification, various acupressure and acupuncture points on the body can affect the way a cigarette or other dependencies (such as alcohol) would taste. “When there is a negative taste associated with the chemical dependency, the body relaxes and keeps the person from experiencing unwanted side-effects during the detoxification process,” said Skelly.

Cara Kovats, a Monmouth graduate and first year student at Eastern School of Acupuncture in Montclair, NJ was inspired by the alternative and complementary medicine class she took at Monmouth as an undergraduate. “After trying acupuncture and having it work so well for me, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in,” said Kovats. “I recommend for everyone to at least try it. There are so many illnesses and conditions it helps in treating and preventing such as anxiety, stress, arthritis, the side effects of chemotherapy, gynecological problems, addiction, weight issues, pain, nasal and breathing difficulties, fibromyalgia, and so much more.”

Skelly said that she has also had some patients come for treatment after being in a traditional rehabilitation treatment for narcotic addiction. For serious cases, she suggests that patients incorporate both holistic and traditional methods for optimal results. “For example, someone who is trying to overcome a cocaine addiction could be more successful if they joined a traditional support group while having acupuncture to increase their chances of success,” said Skelly.

Not all health practitioners find that acupuncture is a successful combatant against addiction. According to a study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 82 opiate-addicted patients participated in a study where half were given professional acupuncture and the rest a false treatment. The study indicated that after 14 days there was no difference in the patient’s withdrawal severity or cravings.

Dr. James Konopack, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Health Studies, feels that standard care is the most effective first step in conquering addiction. “Standard care is getting help from a professionally trained specialist such as a substance abuse coordinator, and getting a medical prescription if needed,” said Konopack. He recommends visiting sites such as the Centers for Disease Control website at for an expert referral first, then later down the line trying alternative methods that might assist your specific needs. “More often than not, it is not the treatment method that is the problem, but the compliance,” said Konopack.

Dr. Laura T. Jannone, Associate Professor, Substance Abuse Coordinator, and Coordinator of School Nursing Program, introduced the “Quit 2 Win” program 3 years ago at the University for students trying to conquer their addiction to smoking. According to Jannone, Quit 2 Win uses group therapy in combination with methods such as relaxation techniques, coping strategies, and guided imagery. Jannone agrees that as with all addictions, combination therapy and finding what works personally for you is the best way to work on conquering your addiction, whether that is acupuncture or a supplementary drug such as Chantix. “Quit 2 win welcomes new members all the time,” said Jannone. “It’s easier to quit with a bigger group and to have group support so we encourage all new comers.” Over the years, Jannone said that the Quit 2 Win program has helped four students officially quit smoking and successfully stay clean.

If acupuncture or group therapy isn’t quite what your addictive habit needs to cease, Kovats suggests replacing any unhealthy addiction with a healthy one, like exercise. “Find an activity you like whether it is yoga, walking, kickboxing, swimming, biking, surfing or running, and focus on it. Exercise not only prevents illness but also releases endorphins that make you feel good. When you start treating your body right you are not going to want to poison it with toxins like cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs,” said Kovats.

For those seeking help, it’s comforting to know all of the options out there, and all of the people who want to help you feel good about your body and health. Skelly encourages people seeking help to find a highly qualified and licensed practitioner to aid them in their process. “I believe that every persons recovery process is going to be different, so one program that is extremely successful for one person, may not work for another,” said Skelly. “Any method should be researched on the effectiveness, and what feels comfortable and right for you. By asking lots of questions and researching the success of others, I think that they will find their program of choice to be more effective.”