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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2003 Oct;5(5):333-9.

Acupuncture for substance abuse.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Welch Building, 495 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


Acupuncture, in the form of insertion of needles bilaterally in the outer ears, is widely used for the treatment of addiction in the US. However, support for this form of treatment from controlled studies has not been consistent. This article examines recent clinical trials of acupuncture for addiction treatment, with a goal of conveying to the reader some of the complex issues involved in conducting studies in this area. Acupuncture trials in addictions frequently have been conducted without preliminary dose-ranging studies to establish efficacious doses of the experimental treatment, use needle insertion controls of unknown degrees of activity, and present no rationale for the type or intensity of concurrently offered psychotherapy. At the present time, it is premature to put forth recommendations for or against acupuncture for the treatment of addiction based on evidence from extant studies.

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