The research literature on the use of acupuncture as a substance abuse treatment is reviewed. In recent years numerous descriptive reports have been published concerning the efficacy of acupuncture in alleviating withdrawal symptoms with substance abusers attempting abstinence. While a limited number of experimental design studies have been conducted in this area, results from controlled studies generally support that acupuncture can be effective in assisting active drug and alcohol users become abstinent. Controlled, experimental research on acupuncture and related techniques used as substance abuse treatments are reviewed. An overview regarding acupuncture and related procedures used as substance abuse treatments is first provided. Animal and human studies on acupuncture's usefulness in alleviating opiate withdrawal symptoms are presented, followed by studies concerning other substance abuse problems (i.e., alcohol, tobacco and cocaine). Possible physiological mechanisms related to acupuncture's effects are reviewed.