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Cocaine Alternative Treatment Study: A Multi-site, Randomized Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2002
28 pages
This study investigated auricular acupuncture's effectiveness as a treatment for cocaine addiction by using multiple control conditions.
The research design was a randomized, controlled, single-blind clinical trial; and six community-based clinics were involved, along with three hospital-affiliated clinics and three methadone programs. There were 620 cocaine-dependent patients (412 "primary" users and 208 methadone-maintained users). Patients were randomly assigned to auricular acupuncture, a needle insertion control, or a no-needle relaxation control. Treatments were provided five times weekly for 8 weeks. Concurrent drug counseling was also offered to patients in all conditions. The main outcome measures were cocaine use during treatment and the 3-month and 6-month post-randomization follow-up based on urine toxicology screens, along with retention in treatment. An analysis of urine samples found a significant overall reduction in cocaine use, but no differences by treatment condition. There were also no differences among the conditions in treatment retention. Patients in all three conditions received equivalent "doses" of the study treatments (approximately two per week); however, counseling sessions were poorly attended. Thus, within the clinical context of this study, acupuncture was not more effective than a needle insertion or relaxation control in reducing cocaine use; therefore, the study does not support the use of acupuncture as a stand-alone treatment for cocaine addiction or in contexts in which patients receive only minimal concurrent psychosocial treatments. Future research should examine the contribution of acupuncture to addiction treatments when provided in an ancillary role. 4 tables and 34 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002