What is acupuncture?
If you’ve never had an acupuncture treatment, the idea of lying on a table stuck with needles like a porcupine may not seem like much fun. But some people in psychiatric drug withdrawal have reported a variety of positive effects such as relief of stress, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nausea, and muscle or nerve pain. However, while many find acupuncture sessions to be deeply relaxing and calming, others experiencing psychiatric drug withdrawal have reported feeling too overstimulated by it.
Derived from ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture follows the map of an invisible meridian system in the human body through which vital energy is believed to flow. According to traditional acupuncture theory, mental, physical, and spiritual difficulties can arise when the flow of energy along a meridian is blocked or interrupted, and insertions of needles in the proper locations can restore that natural flow. While this energy meridian system has not been widely validated or accepted within mainstream Western medicine, in 2003, the World Health Organization’s Department of Essential Drugs and Medicine Policy published a report that listed more than twenty diseases, symptoms, and conditions for which acupuncture had been demonstrated as effective.
An acupuncture session generally begins with the practitioner checking your pulse in various locations and asking a series of questions, some of which may seem unusual, such as ‘Do you tend to be too hot or too cold?’ or ‘Are there certain foods that you crave?’ To maximize your chances of having a positive experience, this could be a good time to inform the practitioner, if you haven’t yet, that you are in psychiatric drug withdrawal. For the next phase, you may not need to get undressed as long as you wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows access to acupuncture points in places such as your ankles, knees, belly, or back. There is usually very little pain associated with the needle insertion, but if you find otherwise, you should feel free to bring it to the practitioner’s attention. Once the needles are in place, there is generally a period of simply lying quietly. The effects of acupuncture may not last long after a session, but through repeated sessions they are intended to have a cumulative effect.
Where can I find more information?
- Acupuncturists can be certified and licensed to practice in the United States through a number of organizations, which usually also provide information and practitioner databases, such as the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
- A video from The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) that explains some acupuncture theory and shows what a typical acupuncture session might look like.
- A link to NCCIH’s introduction to acupuncture, including an overview of the scientific literature and links to controlled trials and systematic reviews.