Health Problem: Substance addiction is characterized by compulsive drug seeking, along with tolerance, dependence, craving, and relapse. Addiction and abuse of drugs, alcohol, and nicotine cost more than $740 billion a year in the United States, rooted in lost productivity, elevated crime, and increased healthcare costs.

Technology Description: The technique of acupuncture involves percutaneous insertion of very fine needles to a depth of approximately 10 to 15 millimeters at prescribed acupoints. In some cases, low-voltage current is applied to the needles; this is referred to as electroacupuncture.

Controversy: Acupuncture is a complementary treatment alternative for substance use disorders (SUDs). Despite wide use over many years, whether acupuncture is effective in the treatment of these disorders has not been definitively established.

Key Questions:

  • Does acupuncture as monotherapy or as adjunctive therapy improve patient outcomes for adult patients with SUDs?
  • Is acupuncture (monotherapy or adjunctive therapy) safe for treating SUDs in adult patients?
  • How do the efficacy and safety of acupuncture (monotherapy or adjunctive therapy) compare with treatment as usual, or other common active interventions, for adult patients with SUDs?
  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been identified for acupuncture (monotherapy or adjunctive therapy) for treatment of SUDs?

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