Acupuncture has been used for the treatment of alcohol and drug use disorders for many years. Recently, scientists from the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Hospital of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea, reviewed studies of the use of acupuncture for the treatment of alcohol dependence.
The authors were not able to make any definite conclusion about the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of alcohol dependence.
Cho SH, Whang WW. Acupuncture for Alcohol Dependence: A Systematic Review. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 Apr 30.
Background: Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of substance-related disorders for the past 30 years. However, a systematic review to assess the effect of various types of acupuncture for alcohol dependence has not yet been performed. The present systematic review assessed the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
Methods: Nineteen electronic databases, including English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese databases, were systematically searched for RCTs of acupuncture for alcohol dependence up to June 2008 with no language restrictions. The methodological qualities of eligible studies were assessed using the criteria described in the Cochrane Handbook.
Results: Eleven studies, which comprised a total of 1,110 individual cases, were systematically reviewed. Only 2 of 11 trials reported satisfactorily all quality criteria. Four trials comparing acupuncture treatment and sham treatments reported data for alcohol craving. Three studies reported that there were no significant differences. Among 4 trials comparing acupuncture and no acupuncture with conventional therapies, 3 reported significant reductions. No differences between acupuncture and sham treatments were found for completion rates (Risk Ratio = 1.07, 95% confidence interval, CI = 0.91 to 1.25) or acupuncture and no acupuncture (Risk Ratio = 1.15, 95% CI = 0.79 to 1.67). Only 3 RCTs reported acupuncture-related adverse events, which were mostly minimal.
Conclusions: The results of the included studies were equivocal, and the poor methodological quality and the limited number of the trials do not allow any conclusion about the efficacy of acupuncture for treatment of alcohol dependence. More research and well-designed, rigorous, and large clinical trials are necessary to address these issues.