Dear Patients and Friends:
I assume that all of you are having a wonderful holiday season. Please find the following News Letter 11. We will discuss about drug abuse. It might give you some idea to help others.
I wish you continue to have a wonderful holiday season.
Jun Xu, M.D., and Hong Su, CMD., L. Ac.
News Letter, Vol. 1 (11), November, 2009, © Copyright
Jun Xu, M.D. Lic. Acup., Hong Su, C.M.D., Lic. Acup.
Rehabilitation Medicine and Acupuncture Center
1171 East Putnam Avenue, Building 1, 2nd Floor
Greenwich, CT 06878
Tel: (203) 637-7720
Peter W. is a 53 year old man who has been extremely successful in business. During his career, he built up a huge company which he sold for 20 million dollars in 2000. Afterward, he felt depressed and realized he had nothing to do which made him sluggish and without motivation, as he had no goal to pursue. He started using drugs, including heroin, which soon became a daily habit. When he was no longer to procure drugs easily in the United States, he turned to the internet and started ordering drugs by E-mail, which were sent to him from Africa. Though he had no real idea what he was using, he continued with his habit, which made him feel empty, depressed, anxious, restless and gave him insomnia, all of which caused a poor relationship with his wife and family. On some occasions he used so heavily he was unable to rise from his bed for a couple of days, on other occasions his family had to rush him to the emergency room. He felt occasional euphoria, followed by the deepest depression, and cloudy mental functioning.
He knew this was not way to live, so he tried to find work that would engross him. For example, he took a charity job and helped the company build up cheap laptop computers for distribution to third world countries to help the young people there. In spite of this worthwhile work, he still felt empty. He took another job as V.P. and a seat on the Board of Directors in one of the biggest computer companies. He worked very hard at this new job, however, as soon as he stopped working or had leisure time he found himself reverting to drug use.
Finally, he came to me for help, saying he wanted to quite drugs altogether.
Heroin is a highly addictive, illegal drug, the most abused and most rapidly acting of the opiods. It is processed from morphine and naturally occurring substance extracted from the seeds of certain varieties of poppy plants. It usually appears as white or brown powder, and sometimes is mixed with sugar and other substances to cut its strength.
Heroin has both long and short term effects. The short term effects include: depression, bad respiration, clouded mental functions, nausea, vomiting, spontaneous abortion. It is used medicinally for the suppression of pain, though under controlled conditions. In addition, heroin can cause temporary feelings of euphoria. Long term effects include addiction and infectious diseases such as HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B and C, collapsed veins, bacterial infection, abscesses, arthritis and pneumatic problems.
In Western medicine there are many types of detoxification programs.
- The methadone is the most popular. Methadone is a synthetic opioid that blocks the effects of the heroin and eliminates withdrawal symptoms; this method has a proven record of success for heroin addicts.
- A pharmaceutical approach is the use of buprenorphine as another behavioral therapy. Buprenorphine offers less risk than methadone and can be prescribed in the doctor’s office. Bupherorphine and Suboxone is a combination drug product formulated to minimize abuse.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture have a long history of treating drug abuse. The two types of treatments are:
- Auricular acupuncture
- Body acupuncture.
The main functions of the acupuncture treatment are to decrease the withdrawal symptoms and improve the patient’s depression and brain function. There are many studies supporting these treatments and the most well known is that acupuncture can directly increase the level of endogenous endorphin, which makes the patient feel calm, relaxed and cheerful. Acupuncture can also directly stimulate the central nervous system to make the patient feel less depressed and lessen the craving for drugs.
For auricular acupuncture, I use the lung, endocrine, liver, spleen and large intestine points corresponding to these organs. . The lung has an opening through the nose and when people abuse heroin, the lung point will protect the lung function and strengthen the immune system. The endocrine points increase endorphin secretion and increase people’s immune function to protect the entire body. Liver and spleen points improve circulation and also improve the taste in the mouth because the spleen and stomach have openings in mouth and large intestine points; the intestine and the lung have direct meridian connection, so if we improve the function of the large intestine, this in turn will directly improve the lung function.
For the body acupuncture points, the most important ones are on the head. I use Baihui DU20 plus shi sheng chong Exn1, total five points, which can directly stimulate the central nervous system when I add electrical stimulation to the needles. They send current directly to the cortex of the brain, which greatly improves the patient’s mood and decreases the depression. Shuaigu GB8, which is on the head 1.5 inches above the tip of the auricular is directly connected to the sensory cortex, which will improve the body’s sensation and make it dislike the taste of heroin. Hegu L14 is a point that can largely increase endorphin secretion and Qu Chi L111 will give a better functioning effect. Neiguan Pc6 is a point of the pericardium meridian, which also helps improve mental functions. Lu7 is the point from the lung meridian which protects the lung from attacks of heroin and improves the immune function of the lung.
After treatment of two weeks, the patient started to feel decreased withdrawal symptoms and had more energy. However, he sometimes still feels cravings for heroin, and he has some physical weakness, with muscle spasms in his arms and legs. He also experienced restlessness and agitation, often accompanied by insomnia. I continued the acupuncture treatments three to four times a week for eight weeks, while also discussing the short and long term effects of heroin use and what organs would be effected and harmed by continued use. He told me that, in spite of the withdrawal symptoms, he still felt much better with the treatments and he is happy to treat his addiction in this fashion, rather than go into a methadone program, at which point his drug use would become generally known. By coming to me, he can be treated in private for his addiction.
Peter W. was also advised to make lifestyle adjustments and I encouraged him to work more for the charity. He traveled to Africa and Asia to actually see and meet the people using the inexpensive computers, and what it could do to improve their lifestyles. This experience touched him a great deal and after about 3 months of treatment he stopped using heroin entirely and is now completely clean. His insomnia, depression, anxiety and other symptoms are much improved and he is leading a normal life again.