Best Practice Manual on Addictions (SAMHSA/CSAT TIP 45)

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Excerpt from Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 45

The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regularly publishes Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) manuals for service providers. TIPs are “best practice guidelines for substance abuse disorders†(Center for Substance Abuse Treatment 2006).

TIP 45, Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment, published in 2006, includes references to the use of acupuncture in programs that provide such services.

Copies of the entire TIP may be obtained free of charge from SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), (800) 729-6686 or (301) 468-2600; TDD (for hearing impaired), (800) 487-4889, or electronically through the following Internet World Wide Web site:

To download a copy for free, click here:

 Chapter 4—Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal From Specific Substances

“Acupuncture is one of the more widely used alternative therapies within the context of addictions and behavioral health treatment. It has been used as an adjunct to conventional treatment because it seems to reduce the craving for a variety of substances of abuse and appears to contribute to improved treatment retention rates.  In particular, acupuncture has been viewed as an effective adjunct to treatment for alcohol and cocaine disorders, and it also has played an important role in opioid treatment (i.e., methadone maintenance). It is used as an adjunct during maintenance, such as when tapering methadone doses. The ritualistic aspect of the practice of acupuncture as part of a comprehensive treatment program provides a stable, comfortable, and consistent environment in which the client can actively participate. As a result, acupuncture enhances the client’s sense of engagement in the treatment process. This may, in part, account for reported improvements in treatment retention (Boucher et al. 2003). A 1999 CSAT-funded study showed that patients choosing outpatient programs with acupuncture were less likely to relapse in the 6 months following discharge than were patients who had chosen residential programs (Shwartz et al. 1999).

Ear acupuncture detoxification, which was originally developed as an alternative treatment for opioid agonist pharmacotherapy, is now augmenting pharmacotherapy treatment for patients with coexisting cocaine problems (Avants et al. 2000). The advocates of acupuncture have joined with the advocates of opioid agonist pharmacotherapy to create a holistic synthesis. Each has contributed to the success of the other, both clinically and in public perception.”  
–Pages 103-104

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