Two Minnesota Research Projects Confirm: Acupuncture Effective in the Treatment of Alcoholism

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Two Minnesota Research Projects Confirm: Acupuncture Effective in the Treatment of Alcoholism

A Pilot Study of Acupuncture Treatment of Alcoholic Recidivism. Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School, the Hennepin County Detox Center, and the Department of Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, report results of their pilot study:

"We performed a randomized trial of acupuncture on a group of 54 hardcore alcoholic recidivists to determine if sobriety could be achieved and episodes of drinking and/or Detox Center admission be decreased by this mode of therapy. Patients in the treatment group received acupuncture on points specific for the treatment of substance abuse; control patients received nonspecific points.

"Significant differences in the two groups were noted at the end of the study. Patients in the treatment group expressed less need for alcohol (p<0.003), and had fewer drinking episodes (p<0.0076) and admissions to the Detox Center (p<0.03) during the study than did control patients. The majority of treated patients felt that acupuncture had a definite impact on their desire to drink, whereas only a few control patients noted this effect (p<0.015).

"The results of this study suggest that acupuncture may be able to interdict the cycle of alcoholic recidivism. Further investigation is needed to define the role of acupuncture in the treatment of alcoholism more precisely." (M. Bullock, A. Umen, P. Culliton, R. Olander. "Acupuncture Treatment of Alcoholic Recidivism: A Pilot Study." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Vol. 11, No. 3, May/June 1987, pp. 292-95.)

Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for Severe Recidivist Alcoholism. A second research project of the Minnesota group confirmed findings of the pilot study:

"Summary: In a placebo-controlled study, 80 severe recidivist alcoholics received acupuncture either at points specific for the treatment of substance abuse (treatment group) or at nonspecific points (control group). Twenty-one of 40 patients in the treatment group completed the programme compared with 1 of 40 controls. Significant treatment effects persisted at the end of the six-month follow-up: by comparison with treatment patients more control patients expressed a moderate to strong need for alcohol, and had more than twice the number of both drinking episodes and admissions to a detoxification centre.

"Introduction. For centuries, acupuncture has been used in Far Eastern countries for various human ailments. Only lately, however, has acupuncture been used to treat addictive disorders. Chinese textbooks on acupuncture do not refer to addictive drugs or to the treatment of addictive disorders, but the suggestion that acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of alcoholism has led to its use with alcoholics and drug addicts. Controlled studies of the efficacy of acupuncture in alcoholism have not been reported.

"In a pilot study, we evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture therapy in recidivist alcoholic subjects: patients receiving acupuncture at points that were specific for substance abuse were more likely to complete the course of therapy than patients receiving acupuncture at nonspecific (placebo) points. Moreover, `treated' patients had substantially fewer drinking episodes and fewer admissions to a detoxification centre. However, we did not know whether these beneficial effects recorded during therapy would persist during a follow-up period when no scheduled therapy was given. We have now tested the null hypothesis that such beneficial effects during acupuncture therapy would not persist for six months." (M. Bullock, P. Culliton, R. Olander. "Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for Severe Recidivist Alcoholism." The Lancet, June 24, 1989, pp. 1435-39.)

Traditional Acupuncture Institute (TAI).

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