Background: Partly because of a lack of a conventional, effective treatment for cocaine addiction, auricular acupuncture is used to treat this disorder in numerous drug treatment facilities across the country for both primary cocaine-dependent and opiate-dependent populations.
Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture for the treatment of cocaine addiction.
Methods: Eighty-two cocaine-dependent, methadone-maintained patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 conditions: auricular acupuncture, a needle-insertion control condition, or a no-needle relaxation control. Treatment sessions were provided 5 times weekly for 8 weeks. The primary outcome was cocaine use assessed by 3-times-weekly urine toxicology screens.
Results: Longitudinal analysis of the urine data for the intent-to-treat sample showed that patients assigned to acupuncture were significantly more likely to provide cocaine-negative urine samples relative to both the relaxation control (odds ratio, 3.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.33-8.72; P =. 01) and the needle-insertion control (odds ratio, 2.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.00-5.75; P =.05).
Conclusions: Findings from the current study suggest that acupuncture shows promise for the treatment of cocaine dependence. Further investigation of this treatment modality appears to be warranted.