Pinewood Centre is a community-based addiction treatment program of Lakeridge Health, and offers among the broadest range of services for substance abuse and problem gambling in Ontario. Our team has helped thousands of people recover from substance use, concurrent disorders and problem gambling concerns. The focus is on developing individualized care for clients and supporting them during their recovery journey. Our team is dedicated to delivering quality care, based on best practices, while at the same time identifying innovative opportunities that can further enhance the treatment experience and improve treatment outcomes.

One such opportunity was to launch the adjunct treatment option of auricular (ear) acupuncture. Auricular acupuncture was introduced in our Pinewood Centre Addictions Program in 2009 as a complimentary treatment to assist residential clients who were withdrawing from substances, to help cope with unpleasant symptoms. Clients reported a decrease in anxiety, withdrawal symptoms, urges to use, increase in motivation to initiate treatment and/or to stay engaged in the treatment process after acupuncture treatments.

Formal program evaluation began when the program expanded and was completed using a survey methodology in the form of client questionnaires. To date data from over 1000 surveys have been compiled. Results reveal that even after the first treatment (n=317) clients report a 70% decrease in stress and anxiety which increases to 87% with 2-10 treatments (n=409), 99% with 11-20 treatments (n=121) and 96% with over 21 treatments (n=153). Clients reported a decrease in urges to use from 31% after the first treatment up to 83% after more than 21 treatments. An increase in motivation was reported in 34% of clients after the first treatment and increased to 79% after more than 21 treatments. Clients reported a decrease in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (agree or strongly agree) 63% of the time after the first treatment up to 96% with over 21 treatments. Additionally, clients reported that the auricular acupuncture was helpful in supporting their involvement in treatment (agree or strongly agree) 60% after the first treatment and 96% after more than 21 treatments. The data represents overwhelmingly positive feedback of the auricular acupuncture program offered to clients as a complementary treatment option during their recovery program

Auricular acupuncture is a cost effective treatment that has proven to be beneficial to clients. The client demand for treatment resulted in an increase of staff with Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists (ADS) certification from two (2) to twenty-seven (27) in less than four years. The treatment option has been so successful since its inception that the program has grown from residential clients in the withdrawal management program, to all six locations of Pinewood, and additional spread to community treatment programs in Scarborough and more recently the Lakeridge Health Mental Health Day Treatment Program. In the past year almost 4,500 auricular acupuncture treatments were provided to clients.

Contact information:

Contact Title: Clinical Coordinator
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