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Table 7 Original investigations of acupuncture therapy effects in poly-drug and other substance abusers (NA not available)

From: Acupuncture therapy for drug addiction

Publication year; first author Objectives Subjects Stimulated acupoints (acupuncture type, acupoints, frequency) Assessments Outcomes
2000 Russell [68] To compare the behavior of addicts in a treatment center with archived information from no-acupuncture (NA) patients 86 Patients (Methamphetamine was the primary drug of choice for 44) AA at 5 NADA points, 45 min for 9 weeks Program retention, new arrests incurred, drug-positive urinalysis results, and number of days needed to progress from entry level to secondary level treatment Acupuncture improved program retention up to 30 days among methamphetamine-addicted patients
2000 Song Bernstein [14] To explore the meaning of substance abusers’ experience while receiving acupuncture as a part of the treatment for substance dependence 8 Human Subjects AA, (NA), once a week Interviews, researcher’s field notes, and demographic data obtained from the participants’ medical records Acupuncture caused anticipation of pain, apprehension concerning a new experience, mood elevation, inability to describe the experience, physical sensation, relaxation, and improved sleep
2004 Berman [13] To compare the experimental NADA-Acudetox protocol with a non-specific helix control protocol in a randomized trial 174 Inmates Auricular acupuncture at 5 NADA points, 40 min for 4 weeks A simple drug use questionnaire, the Acupuncture Treatment Assessment Scale (ATAS), a Swedish research version of the Symptom Check List 90 Acupuncture had no significant efficiency over the placebo
2005 Janssen [36] To examine the utility of acupuncture treatment in reducing substance use in the marginalized, transient population 261 Humans AA at 5 NADA points for 40 min Questionnaire, Drug use symptomatology, severity of withdrawal symptoms Acupuncture caused reduction in overall use of substances and decrease in intensity of withdrawal symptoms
2006 Tian [73] To examine the efficacy of AA in addition to usual care in substance abuse treatment 17 Humans AA at 5-points NADA, once a week for 6 consecutive weeks The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (SCL-20) depression scale, brief substance craving scale there was a positive response to the specific auricular acupressure treatment on psychological distress, craving, and drug/alcohol use measures
2007 Courbasson and Christine [26] To evaluate the benefits of adding AA to a 21-day outpatient structured psychoeducational treatment program 185 Women with concurrent substance use problems, anxiety, and depression AA at 5 points NADA for 45 min, 3 times a week Physiological cravings for substances, depression, and anxiety AA as an adjunct therapy to a comprehensive psychoeducational treatment was effective and more viable treatment alternative to anxiolytics
2009 Ashton [9] To describe the characteristics of clients choosing AA or counseling to treat dependence at a UK self-referral center 162 Humans, n = 36 acupuncture, n = 126 counselling AA at 5-points NADA, 45 min, once a week for 11 weeks Psychometric variables (anxiety, depression, dependence severity, readiness to change), and alcohol and drug consumption Acupuncture was preferred by clients and follow up assessments showed a significant decrease in psychological distress and reduction of alcohol consumption
2014, 2010 Chang and Bei-Hung [23, 24] Examine the effects of acupuncture and related response (RR) on reducing craving 23 Acupuncture, 23 RR, 21 controls (homeless military veterans) AA at 5-points NADA, 45 min twice a week Degree of craving and anxiety levels acupuncture and the relaxation reduced craving and anxiety levels
2011 Black, S. [7] To test the hypothesis if AA reduces the anxiety associated with withdrawal from psychoactive drugs. 101 Patients recruited from an addiction treatment service AA at 5-points NADA 45 min for 3 days Anxiety state by using a pretest–posttest treatment design The NADA protocol was not more effective than sham or treatment setting control in reducing anxiety
2012 Janssen [35] To test the ability of maternal acupuncture treatment among mothers who use illicit drugs to reduce the frequency and severity of withdrawal symptoms among their newborns 50 Women using acupuncture, 39 women standard care AA at 5-points NADA for 45 min Days of neonatal morphine treatment for symptoms of neonatal withdrawal. Neonatal outcomes included admission to a neonatal ICU and transfer to foster care length of treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome showed no efficiency of acupuncture
2012 Penetar [66] To investigate the effects of TEAS on drug addiction 9 Cocaine-dependent, 11 Cannabis-dependent 2 and 100 Hz at Neiguan (PC6)/Waiguan (TH5) and Hegu (LI4)/Laogong (PC8) stimulation, Twice-daily 30-minute sessions of for 3.5 days Drug use and drug cravings, cue-induced craving EEG evaluation, and P300 ERP TEAS did not reduce drug use or drug cravings, or alter the ERP peak voltage or latency but modulated several self reported measures of mood and anxiety
2014 Bergdah [12] To describe patients’ experiences of receiving AA during protracted withdrawal 15 Human subjects AA at 5-points NADA 40 min, twice a week for 5 weeks Interview AA reinforced sense of relaxation and well-being, peacefulness and harmony, and new behaviors
  1. Acupoints in NADA protocol are located at (sympathetic: in the deltoid fossa at the junction of the infra-antihelix crus and the medial order of the helix, lung: in the center of the cavum concha, liver: located in the posterior to upper portion of the helix crus, kidney: in the cleft between the upper plateau, and the helix)