BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Sunday, 13 August, 2000, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Acupuncture for cocaine addiction
Acupuncture needles were inserted into the ear
Acupuncture is a promising treatment for cocaine addiction, say researchers.

A team from Yale University successfully used the alternative therapy to treat an addiction for which there are few effective treatments.

Volunteers received a form of the therapy called auricular acupuncture in which needles are inserted into specific parts of the outer ear.

Tests on urine samples showed that these volunteers were less likely to have taken cocaine during the study than others who were not offered the therapy.

Alternative therapies can be combined with the arsenal of Western treatments for fighting addiction

Dr Arthur Margolin, Yale University

Lead researcher Dr Arthur Margolin said: "Our study supports the use of acupuncture for cocaine addiction and shows that alternative therapies can be combined with the arsenal of Western treatments for fighting addiction."

Results showed that 54.8% of participants tested free of cocaine during the last week of treatment, compared to 23.5% and 9.1% in the two control groups.

Those who completed acupuncture treatment also had longer periods of sustained abstinence compared to participants in the control groups.

Dr Margolin said acupuncture had the added benefit of being cheap, and having few, if any, side effects.

Heroin and cocaine users

The study included 82 participants who were addicted to both heroin and cocaine.

They received methadone for their heroin addiction, but they continued to use cocaine.

The volunteers in the two control groups either received "control" acupuncture in which needles were inserted into their ears, but not in crucial areas, or a form of relaxation therapy.

All volunteers had treatment five times a week for eight weeks.

Urine samples were taken three times a week to assess cocaine use.

In addition to the study treatments, participants also received individual and group counseling.

Dr Margolin said: "Controlled clinical research of acupuncture is in its infancy, and while our positive findings are gratifying, further research is needed to replicate the results and to better understand how to combine acupuncture with existing treatments for addiction."

The researchers used a protocol drawn up by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA).

Treatment consisted of inserting 3 to 5 small needles in both outer ears which remain in place for about 45 minutes.

The research is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

25 Jun 00 | Health
Doctors support acupuncture
08 Jun 98 | Medical notes
Complementary medicine
09 Apr 00 | Health
Drug 'reduces cocaine craving'
26 Jun 00 | Health
Acupuncture: the facts
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories