We performed a randomized trial of acupuncture on a group of 54 hardcore alcoholic recidivists to determine if sobriety could be achieved and episodes of drinking and/or Detox Center admissions be decreased by this mode of therapy. Patients in the treatment group received acupuncture points specific for the treatment of substance abuse; control patients received nonspecific points. Significant differences in the two groups were noted at the end of the study. Patients in the treatment group expressed less need for alcohol (p less than 0.003), and had fewer drinking episodes (p less than 0.0076) and admissions to the Detox Center (p less than 0.03) during the study than did control patients. The majority of treated patients felt that acupuncture had a definite impact on their desire to drink, whereas only a few control patients noted this effect (p less than 0.015). The results of this study suggest that acupuncture may be able to interdict the cycle of alcoholic recidivism. Further investigation is needed to define the role of acupuncture in the treatment of alcoholism more precisely.