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An addiction can be described as the “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal” (“Addiction”). This means that a person with an addiction craves their specific substance, and will struggle physically and mentally without it.

Cigarettes contain the habit-forming substance called nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical found in tobacco, which is a plant in the nightshade family. When tobacco is inhaled, nicotine (among thousands of other chemicals) stimulates adrenal glands to produce epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). This hormone then further stimulates dopamine production, which plays a role in controlling the brain’s pleasure center. At the same time, the nicotine causes blood pressure and heart rate to instantly rise and also constricts blood vessels.

Alcohol and other drugs, such as; heroin, cocaine, and opioids, can also be very addicting. These different types of drug cause a specific reaction to one’s brain and body, that the user may crave. This “crave” is too caused by the production of the hormone dopamine. As one continues to take and/or use these drugs, the brain alters its natural dopamine production, thus creating a tolerance. This then leads the user to take or use these drugs more frequently to keep their dopamine levels high.

How can acupuncture help?

There are various points that will help with addiction. There are specific points that will help to improve blood flow and to relax the nervous system. Also, there are points to remove toxins from the liver and blood. When these points are used together during a treatment, the patient will feel relaxed and calm. These points have a common goal in reducing the overall effects of withdrawal, and create a period of relaxation. With continuation of treatment, acupuncture can bring the hormones and the brain back to its default state. Acupuncture will reduce cravings, ease pain, decrease anxiety, decrease stress, and also improve and regulate sleep. Over time, also, the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and blood vessel constriction will also self-regulate.

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