Acupuncture helps treat opioid addiction, study finds

Acupuncture helps treat opioid addiction, study finds

A patient receives acupuncture treatment at a temporary clinic in Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 28, 2023. (Xinhua/Myo Kyaw Soe)

GUANGZHOU, July 10 (Xinhua) — Acupuncture can help treat opioid use disorder by reducing the dose of methadone, a drug used to reduce opioid addiction, a recent study has found.

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is commonly used to wean off opioids, but its many side effects require using the lowest possible dose to achieve optimal results.

According to the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, after eight weeks of acupuncture, 62% of patients reduced their methadone dose by 20% or more, compared with 29% of those who received sham acupuncture.

The trial, designed by medical experts in southern China’s Guangdong province, analyzed 116 patients treated with MMT, randomly assigned to receive acupuncture or sham acupuncture sessions. The selected acupuncture points are commonly used to treat psychiatric disorders.

Acupuncture recipients in the trial also reported reduced opioid cravings and better sleep quality, said Xu Nenggui, one of the study’s authors and a professor at Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.

Xu said the study provided strong clinical evidence supporting methadone dose reduction through acupuncture, while highlighting the prospective applications of such interventions.