Research has shown that regular teen acupuncture treatment sessions positively impact the long-term outcomes for teens being treated for emotional and mental health issues as well as drug and alcohol addictions. As part of our holistic treatment approach, we provide optional acupuncture sessions for teens at Paradigm, in order to support and further the work they’re doing in treatment, both on physical and mental levels. Because acupuncture targets the nervous system and impacts brain chemistry, we find that it can produce positive effects to teens on several different levels, including increasing production of endorphins, alleviating severe symptoms of anxiety and stress, and producing a calming effect. Reports by the National Drug Court Office suggest that the use of acupuncture decreases the likelihood of an adolescent relapsing by 33%. Our Teen Acupuncture treatment sessions are offered and encouraged to all teens at Paradigm, but are always optional. Because some adolescents don’t like needles, we offer needle-free treatment options.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine, implemented regularly in China in hospitals and other treatment centers, right alongside other contemporary Eastern and Western medicine techniques. Though it’s been used in China for thousands of years, it’s only been used in the United States for about 200 years. Essentially, it works by stimulating specific points in the body to correct and/or strengthen the flow of energy in the body, through “channels” also known as meridians. This energy is known as “Qi.” Essentially, the Chinese medicine philosophy views all forms of illness as caused by an imbalance of Qi, including both mental and physical ailments, as the mind and body are viewed as one. Therefore, acupuncture can be used to restore equilibrium to the energy of the body, which in turn will serve to heal the specific ailments that are present. In this sense, each teen acupuncture treatment is inherently unique to the individual, as it serves to restore that specific individual’s equilibrium of energy.
Teen Acupuncture is also based around the principle of the five elements as well as the balance of yin and yang. In Eastern medicine, the elements are viewed as wood, fire, earth, water, and metal. These elements are used to explain the relationship between the physiology and pathology of the body as it relates to the natural environment and each element is associated with certain mental or emotional states. For instance, because the heart, consciousness, and memory are three aspects connected to fire, if a person’s fire is in balance, then they have a healthy heart and clear mind. If the fire element is imbalanced, the person might be struggling with depression (from a lack of fire) or be experiencing a form of mania (from an excess.)
Although the concept of the needles can be intimidating to some, there is actually very little sensitivity to the insertion of the needles and it’s very common for teens to fall asleep during sessions. The length and frequency of sessions may vary according to the teen and his/her individual needs.
The forms of relief teens might experience from acupuncture sessions vary according to the individual. However, it’s been shown to alleviate stress, lessen feelings of anxiety, help to alleviate negative symptoms during withdrawal, and increase feelings of calm and happiness. It’s also been shown to help with insomnia, and have positive effects on brain chemistry, thereby helping to ease other negative symptoms of certain mental health disorders.
Overall, our philosophy about adolescent treatment at Paradigm Malibu is to take the whole person into our care and consideration, providing them with the most thorough and individualized care that we can create. Because of this, we look beyond just the basic and most traditional combination of therapy and medication, though we do implement this in just about every treatment plan. By utilizing other programs such as acupuncture to help support and encourage healing on the physical level, we provide teens with the greatest possible chance of a full and lasting recovery. Beyond this, we look at it as an opportunity to expose teens to new resources that can help them deal with stress and cope with conflicts in their lives, when they return home. After all, in providing treatment to young people, we don’t want to just alleviate their symptoms while they’re with us; we want to teach them how to gain relief from their symptoms, avoid triggers, and manage their conflicts more healthily, moving forward. Though not all teens choose to participate in teen acupuncture treatment sessions, the large majority does and they find it to be enjoyable and relaxing.