Acupuncture is a part of East Asian medicine developed over 2,500 years ago.  It is currently practiced throughout Asia, Europe and the United States. Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the surface of the body for the purpose of stimulating healing.  The use of acupuncture in the treatment of substance use disorders can help reduce drug cravings, anxiety, physical symptoms and relapse.

American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (
A physician-only professional acupuncture society. Their site provides a medical acupuncturist referral service located by state or area code as well as general information and research on acupuncture.

National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) (
There are approximately over 30,000 licensed acupuncturists in practice in the U.S. and over 60 accredited programs. The NCCAOM currently provides licensing exams in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Those interested in locating a qualified, credentialed provider can use the Find a Practitioner feature on this site. Searches can be done by practitioner’s last name, zip code, city, area code or state.


Bier ID, Wilson J, Studt P, Shakleton M. “Auricular acupuncture, education, and smoking cessation: a randomized, sham-controlled trial.” Am J Public Health. 2002 Oct;92(10):1642-7. Acupuncture alone or in combination with education was studied for its effect on smoking cessation in 141 adults. Acupuncture and education, alone and in combination, significantly reduce smoking; however, combined they show a significantly greater effect in those who smoked more for a longer number of years.

Avants SK. Margolin A. Holford TR. Kosten TR. “A randomized controlled trial of auricular acupuncture for cocaine dependence.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 160(15):2305-12, 2000. This study evaluated the effectiveness of ear acupuncture for the treatment of cocaine addiction. Patients who received acupuncture in this study were significantly more likely to test free of cocaine at the end of the eight-week treatment period. Researchers concluded that acupuncture shows promise for the treatment of cocaine abuse and should be further studied.

Carter K, Olshan-Perlmutter M. NADA protocol: integrative acupuncture in addictions. J Addict Nurs. 2014 Oct-Dec;25(4):182-7. National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) acupuncture is a simple, standardized, 1- to 5-point auricular (ear) needling protocol. It is increasingly recognized as a useful intervention in the treatment of addictions and mental health issues. Recognized as a best practice in the treatment of substance use disorders, integrative programs using the NADA protocol are likely to see improvements in engagement, retention, decreased drug cravings, anxiety, and less physical symptoms.

Courbasson CM, de Sorkin AA, Dullerud B, Van Wyk L. Acupuncture treatment for women with concurrent substance use and anxiety/depression: an effective alternative therapy? Fam Community Health. 2007 Apr-Jun;30(2):112-20. This study evaluated the benefits of adding ear acupuncture to a 21-day outpatient structured psychoeducational treatment program for women with substance use problems, anxiety, and depression. Women receiving acupuncture (185 women) reported reduced cravings for substances, significantly less anxiety and depression, and were better able to reflect on and resolve difficulties than women in the control group (101 women).

Acupuncture is currently used in many drug treatment facilities or can be part of a self-help program for recovery.

Updated May 23, 2018