Auriculotherapy: An Effective Treatment Procedure For Addiction
DR Bruce


Finding the least invasive treatments for addiction care appears to be an elusive concept in rehab. Yet, there has been a non-pharmaceutical procedure that has been used widely throughout the world for decades and goes largely ignored or devalued in almost all western medical systems – auriculotherapy. Auriculotherapy (aka ear “acupuncture,” auricular therapy, or auricular medicine) has been around since the 1950’s. It is a mainstream neurological technique practiced extensively in Europe and Asia for decades.

Let us be reminded that the term ear acupuncture is often used to mean auriculotherapy. But they are two distinctly different systems with important similarities.

So how does auriculotherapy work? And more specifically, how does it help the addicted brain? A thorough explanation of the ins and outs of how auriculotherapy works to benefit the addicted brain requires understanding of how it is applied. Briefly, the auriculotherapy protocol for addiction treatment affects pathways of the nervous system that promote relaxation and balances neurotransmitter production.

Most behavioral health practitioners understand the basics on why their clients abuse substances. They also understand that the vast majority of recovering addicts will relapse if the right combinations of physical, mental, and emotional components are not considered in the treatment plans. Since most patients in treatment present with co-occurring disorders or co-morbid conditions, auriculotherapy is an ideal form of treatment to consider because of the numerous tested protocols for these specific disorders and conditions.

Auriculotherapy is a fast and inexpensive non-traditional medical procedure. Training in clinical applications is relatively easy and can typically be achieved in just a few weekend seminars. Most states include auriculotherapy for certain licensed health providers in their scopes of practice. Keep in mind, that it is not a part of the acupuncture system of medicine, although an acupuncture physician or acupuncturist may practice auriculotherapy.

So why is this treatment procedure not utilized within the addiction treatment setting more? The first and primary reason is that in behavioral health it is not very widely known about. Secondly, practitioners who can and have used auriculotherapy are distracted from its effectiveness, especially when new and more glamorous pharmaceuticals come to the clinical setting.

The good news is that once auriculotherapy is employed into the medical treatment side of the equation, effectiveness of all other therapies increases significantly. Kenneth Blum, PhD in November of 2000, published the most convincing study that demonstrates this. The take home message is this: figure out how you can start using auriculotherapy in your center. If you need help, ARS can help you.


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DR Bruce
Doctor Bruce Hansbrough received his chiropractic medical degree from Life University, in Marietta, Georgia. He has worked in integrative settings in Martin and Palm Beach Counties since 1993. Doctor Hansbrough is board certified with the American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders (ACACD) and performed his residency at the Exodus Treatment Center and Concept House in Miami.

He has served as an integrative medicine consultant for mental health and addiction recovery centers. He is also board certified in occupational health completing his occupational health residency at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minneapolis and is a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Occupational Health.

Doctor Hansbrough is a veteran and served as a commissioned officer from 1980 through 2002 in the United States Navy and Naval Reserve with three tours of duty in the Middle East and Persian Gulf regions. Doctor Hansbrough is also a graduate of the LEADERship™ program of Martin County and received the prestigious Chiropractor of the Month award from the nationally acclaimed Chiropractic Leadership Alliance in June 2010.
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