Self-Care After An Acupuncture Session

If you are looking at treatment centers for drug and alcohol addiction recovery, you may find more than a few offering acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture, especially a specific five-point protocol involving the ear, has become a common complementary treatment alongside more conventional treatments for addiction. Yale University reports that the treatment can give the patient a mental and emotional buffer against the desire to use the drug or drink of choice, which then lets the patient put other coping strategies to work. However, the sessions involve more than you just sitting around with needles stuck in you. Proper post-acupuncture care is essential. It doesn't take much effort, and it helps preserve the effects of the acupuncture.

Don't Drive

Acupuncture has a relaxing effect that can help patients detach from the urges to reach for a drug. That relaxing effect can also make you light-headed, tired, and super-mellow, none of which are very handy if you have to drive and react to last-minute problems on the road. Until you get better at staying grounded and alert after acupuncture, have someone else drive you if the appointment was at a remote location. If you are staying at a residential treatment center that offer the acupuncture onsite, head back to your room until any light-headedness wears off.

Schedule Downtime

Whether or not you have to travel to the acupuncture treatment site, clear your schedule for a few hours after the appointment. As mentioned, if you're in a residential center, head back to your room and rest. If you are living at home, do not schedule other appointments afterward or volunteer to pick your kids up from school, for example. If you are working during your treatment, schedule the acupuncture toward the end of the day so that you don't have to return to work immediately after the appointment.

It is possible that you'll feel energetic after the session instead; if this is the case, you still need to take it easy. Channel the energetic feeling into feeling good overall, and don't try to take care of your to-do list at that point. You don't want to overexert yourself until you're more familiar with how the acupuncture is affecting you.

Train Yourself to Leave the Points Alone

Acupuncture needles aren't inserted far into the skin, but they don't sit on the surface either. Needle sites can form bruises and ache a bit after treatment, so be careful about touching the sites. Sometimes wearing gloves can serve as a reminder to watch what your hands are doing.

Watch for Flare-ups

You might want to write down how you feel before and after sessions, especially at the beginning. Some people experience flare-ups of the condition being treated -- so you might find yourself craving the drug or alcohol even more initially. This should fade relatively quickly, and keeping track of your feelings can help. If you have a visual representation of your feelings versus when you started treatment, it can be easier to handle more cravings by reminding yourself of where you are in treatment. Trying to just remember what you felt like a couple of weeks ago, for example, can be unreliable. But if you have a list of how you felt and when, you can track how things are going.

If you'd like more information on treating addiction with acupuncture and how to care for yourself after a session, talk to the doctors at the treatment centers you're considering. If the center offers acupuncture, the acupuncturist should be able to meet with you briefly to discuss what you can expect and what may happen.