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Br J Gen Pract. 1990 September; 40(338): 379–382.
PMCID: PMC1371348

A meta-analysis of studies into the effect of acupuncture on addiction.


A literature search revealed 22 controlled clinical studies on the efficacy of acupuncture in three fields of addiction: cigarette smoking (15), heroin (five), and alcohol (two). These studies were reviewed using a list of 18 predefined criteria of good methodology. A maximum of 100 points for study design could be earned, divided over four categories: comparability of prognosis; adequate intervention; adequate effect measurement; and good data presentation. The study design was generally poor. No study earned more than 75 points and 12 studies (55%) earned less than 50 points. For smoking cessation, the number of studies with negative outcomes exceeded by far the number with positive outcomes. Taking the quality of the studies into account this negative picture becomes even stronger. For heroin and alcohol addiction controlled clinical research is both scarce and of low quality. Claims that acupuncture is efficacious as a therapy for these addictions are thus not supported by results from sound clinical research.

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Selected References

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