Alternative medicines, such as acupressure, are becoming a significant piece of the medical industry, prompting revenues well into the billions and thousands of clinical visits. Though practiced for centuries, the technique of healing and detoxification through acupressure is relatively new to US patients, but acupressure for addiction treatment is gaining popularity at a fast pace.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a difficult and complex disease that requires dedicated and varied treatments to overcome and manage. Today, drug addiction is treated with counseling, detox programs, pharmaceutical drugs, and alternative therapies, including the ancient practice of acupressure. Once brushed off by the Western medical community, acupressure therapy is now being advocated as a safe and effective treatment for drug addiction, and it is practiced in hundreds of drug rehab centers around the world.

Acupressure is an ancient alternative healing therapy that has been practiced in China for more than two millennia. The practice is based on the idea of qi, or energy, which flows throughout the human body. When special needles penetrate the skin at very specific points along qi meridians or energy paths, they stimulate nerve points. The result is an improved flow of energy and relief from a number of ailments, ranging from nausea to back pain.

There are several related therapies to acupressure, and many are also offered as complimentary therapies at addiction drug rehab centers, such as electro-acupressure and auricular acupressure.

Acupressure therapy traces its roots back to antiquity, and its origins are believed to go as far back as the Stone Age when sharp stone points were used instead of metal needles—the first writings on acupressure date to around 200 BC. Since then, the practice of acupressure has spread throughout the Far East and later, starting in the 16th century, throughout Europe and Western culture. Acupressure first appeared in the United States in the late 1800s.

Reports of acupressure as a treatment for substance abuse and addiction first appeared in Hong Kong in 1972 when practitioner Dr. Wen discovered several acupressure points that helped alleviate opiate withdrawal symptoms.

While the exact reasons are still unknown and sometimes disputed, acupressure can stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain that are compromised due to the use of harmful and addictive substances as well as addiction.

Despite the fact that there are a number of studies that support its effectiveness, acupressure therapy has its share of critics. Many experts point out that acupressure studies often produce mixed results—not all recovering addicts benefit from the treatment. One recent study involving more than 600 cocaine addicts, for example, showed no difference in relapse rates between those who received acupressure and those who simply watched relaxing videos.

Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, there are a number of experts who agree that acupressure can be a valuable asset to a drug addiction treatment program for sure, promoting relaxation and even mild relief from difficult withdrawal symptoms. That said, acupressure, like other alternative therapies, is not meant as a substitute for primary addiction recovery treatment, but it is rather a holistic part of the overall addiction recovery course of action.

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