Auricular acupuncture is used by the Health Department Substance Abuse Program to aid clients in combating the effects of detoxification. Also known as Acu-detox, the process has been proven to help alleviate a wide array of symptoms.
“I have always been open to new ideas. When I was attending a training in Salisbury, I had an opportunity to learn more about auricular acupuncture,” said Kathryn Beals, clinical supervisor in the Substance Abuse Program of Garrett County Health Department Behavioral Health.
“I participated in the session and after the presenter, a full-body acupuncturist, gave the information, I participated in the five-point protocol. I was amazed at the feeling of relaxation I felt at the end of the session.”
The Substance Abuse Program began using the treatment in 2007.
Auricular acupuncture uses five specific points on the ear in the treatment of substance abuse and general body detoxification.
According to Beals, the protocol helps the body to release toxins and it re-energizes the body by inserting needles in the five points.
Stimulation of the sympathetic point promotes the body’s release of endorphin, which helps with pain relief and is believed to relax small organs.
The Shenmen point helps calm the mind, reduces stress and promotes sleep. It also promotes lower abdominal circulation, harmonizes liver function and reduces high blood pressure.
The kidney point helps kidney function and digestion. The fourth point regulates blood circulation, strengthens the stomach, relieves dizzy spells and faintness, and strengthens digestion, relieves chest heaviness, general aches and pains, abdominal distention and depression. It is believed this point moderates emotions and keeps the body system working smoothly.
The fifth point increases the functions of the lungs by controlling breathing and helps to regulate body temperature. This point also stimulates immunity and protects the body from disease.
After the needles are placed, the patient participates in approximately 40 minutes of quiet meditation.
Before implementing the protocol for clients, several members of the health department participated in the treatment and shared Beals’ assessment of the treatment.
“They were all surprised by the sense of well-being they experienced,” Beals added.
Beals, a licensed auricular accupuncturist, offers the Acu-detox two times a week in addition to individual and group counseling.
She said some clients who were initially hesitant were soon convinced when they experienced the positive effects firsthand.
“There have been many positive comments from clients who have participated in this treatment. This procedure not only helps clients deal with withdrawal symptoms early in recovery, but it also helps them long-term as a natural stress and anxiety relief technique,” Beals explained.
During the past year, the health department provided substance abuse treatment to 341 people of which 25 participated in the Acu-detox program.
Auricular acupuncture protocol was first developed in 1974, at New York City’s Lincoln Hospital and is now used in approximately 1,200 addiction treatment programs throughout the country. The Acu-detox protocol has shown to be beneficial in the process of detoxification from substance abuse as well as to help with the emotional, physical and psychological aspects involved in addiction. For more information about the substance abuse programs offered by the Garrett County Health Department, go to www.garretthealth.org.