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Acupuncture and relaxation response for craving and anxiety reduction among military veterans in recovery from substance use disorder
The American Journal on Addictions (2014)
  • Bei-Hung Chang, Boston University
  • Elizabeth Sommers, Boston University
Abstract
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Substance use disorder (SUD) is a major health issue, especially among military veterans. We previously reported the effects of auricular acupuncture and the relaxation response (RR) on reducing craving and anxiety following 10-week interventions among veterans who were in recovery from SUDs. Our current analysis examines effects following each intervention session and RR daily practice.

METHODS: We conducted a three-arm randomized controlled trial on residents of a homeless veteran rehabilitation program. Sixty-Seven enroled participants were randomly assigned to acupuncture (n=23), RR (n=23), or usual care (n=21). Participants in the two intervention groups rated their degree of craving for substance on a scale of 1-10 and anxiety levels on a scale of 1-4 (total score 20-80) before and after each intervention session. Mixed effects regression models were used for analysis.

RESULTS: Craving and anxiety levels decreased significantly following one session of acupuncture (-1.04, p=.0001; -8.83, p<.0001) or RR intervention (-.43, p=.02; -4.64, p=.03). The level of craving continued to drop with additional intervention sessions (regression coefficient b=-.10, p=.01, and b=-.10, p=.02 for acupuncture and RR groups, respectively). Number of daily practice days of RR-eliciting techniques is also associated with reduction in craving ratings (b=-.02, p=.008).

CONCLUSIONS: Findings demonstrate the value of attending regular acupuncture and RR-eliciting intervention sessions, as well as the daily practice of RR-eliciting techniques.

SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: Substance addiction is a complex disease and effective treatment remains a challenge. Our study findings add to the scientific evidence of these two non-pharmaceutical approaches for SUD.
Publication Date
March 1, 2014
DOI
10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.12079.x
Citation Information
Chang BH, Sommers E. Acupuncture and relaxation response for craving and anxiety reduction among military veterans in recovery from substance use disorder. Am J Addict. 2014 Mar-Apr;23(2):129-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.12079.x. PubMed PMID: 25187049.