Commonly Asked Questions

1) Does it hurt?

Most often people barely feel the needle go in. Sometimes a point will be sensitive, but this small sting or pinch only lasts for a second. Tell the acupuncturist if a needle hurts during the treatment and they will adjust the needle for you. There should be no pain or discomfort during the treatment itself.

2) Any danger of AIDS?

Virtually none. The needles are sterile and have never been used on anyone else before. The needles are used only once and then thrown away.

3) Is the treatment itself dangerous?

No. Ear acupuncture is very safe. It is a treatment for balancing the body and gently engaging and enhancing the body's ability to heal itself.

4) Is it safe during and after pregnancy?

Yes! Acupuncture helps the health of both the mom and the developing baby. It is important that you tell the acupuncturist you are pregnant; they will do special points to help you.

5) What will it do for me?

Physically: relaxes and reduces stress, decreases pain, increases energy and immunity, helps withdrawal, normalizes sleep.
Mentally/Emotionally: helps you feel more clear, alert, calm, and focused.

6) How does it work?

The acupuncture needles connect to the body's energy or life-force, called "qi." This powers our body's organs and allows them to function. The treatments help increase the circulation of qi so the body's organs work more efficiently, therefore you feel better. It is like when your car needs a tune-up. After the car has the tune-up it runs much better, with more ease. You are much more important than your car, so we encourage frequent "tuneups."

7) How often should I come?

As often as you can. During the first four weeks of sobriety, it is best to come five days a week. The next month you should come three to four days a week. Continue to come at least once a week until you are six months sober. Remember to come in more often if you are experiencing a lot of stress or depression. These treatments are here for you to use to heal yourself and help yourself, for a better overall quality of life.

Why People Stop or Never Start Taking Treatment

1) I don't like needles.

Acupuncture needles are very different from regular hypodermic needles. They are not hollow and are much thinner. It usually doesn't hurt going in, especially if you concentrate on your breathing. Most people barely feel the needles going in. At worst there is a very brief sting or pinching sensation.

2) I don't want to become dependent on anything.

This treatment is completely non-addicting, and there is a natural tendency to want or need less treatment as your recovery progresses.

3) It gave me a headache.

Occasionally people react like that. It may be your body is detoxifying, or that you are very sensitive to the needles and the treatment brought too much blood and energy (qi) flow to the head. After the treatment, be sure you tell the acupuncturists that you got a headache, and they will adjust the treatment.

4) The treatment made me too tired.

Your body is detoxifying and healing. This usually doesn't last more than one or two treatments. If it does, tell the acupuncturists and they will adjust the treatment.

5) I had too much energy after the treatment and I couldn't go to sleep.

Your body is detoxifying and healing. This reaction should not last longer than one or two treatments. If it does, please tell the acupuncturists and they will adjust the treatment for you.

6) I tried it and didn't feel anything.

Some people feel something right away; others may take a week or two. Stick with it! It is like planting a seed and expecting a tomato harvest in one or two days. Anything worth having in your life takes time.

7) My ears were hurting after treatment.

Massage your ears after treatments. Tell the acupuncturist and they can do fewer needles for a few days.

8) The points in my ears got too painful.

If the needles hurt you a lot and you are afraid of them, there is something you can do. Concentrate on your breathing, especially remembering to breath through your mouth while you concentrate on exhaling the air. Put your mind on your breath, not on your ear! Relax rather than tensing your face, neck and shoulders. This will decrease the amount of pain you feel when the needle goes in.

Treatment Frequency Guidelines

Time Sober
First month
Second month
Third through Sixth month
Treatments per Week
three to four
one to two

We suggest more frequent treatment any time there is an increased tension level in your life, whether it is physical, mental or emotional. This applies no matter how long you have been sober. Sobriety includes finding a way to live with more comfort and ease even through hard times. Therefore, self care is a neccessary thing to learn. The acupuncture treatments are a great way to care for yourself in a healthy way.

Things to Tell Clients


  • is an effective treatment for any substance used.
  • helps: headaches, body aches, sweats, sleep disturbances, tremors, anxiety, depression, mental clarity, decreases anger, reduces cravings for alcohol and other drugs.
  • helps stabilize you physically and emotionally and increases your ability to focus.
  • will help you stay clean and sober.
  • relaxes you from the inside. So sit quietly during treatment.
  • treatments stimulate your body to heal itself. The treatments are not to sedate but rather treatments that rebuild your physical and emotional self.

Come for treatment as often as you can. It works best when treatments are frequent and on going. These treatments will have a cumulative effect. If you are still using, or relapse, keep coming to treatment! The acupuncture will help you stop.

Avoid coffee, cigarettes, heavy meals, or being overly hungry before treatment. Sit quietly during the treatment with arms and legs uncrossed. Please respect the people near you who may be silently enjoying the benefit of their treatment.

Use the herbal tea formula (Sleep Tea) as often as you like. It will help you relax throughout the day and may help normalize your sleep. The tea is safe, non narcotic and non-addictive. It is for sale here at the clinic for your later use at home.

Procedures for Clients to Follow

1. Use the bathroom before starting your treatment.

Quietly enter the treatment room.
Clean the inside of both ears with an alcohol swab.
Don't touch your ears after you have cleaned them.
Get a cup of tea and take a seat.
Tell the acupuncturist each time if you are pregnant, or have a history of a bleeding disorder.
Give the acupuncturist your medical card when it is your turn for treatment.

2. Five sterile needles will be placed in each ear. These needles have never been used before and there is virtually no possibility of disease transmission.

3. Sit quietly for 45 minutes. Relax, meditate, visualize, or sleep.

4. Do not walk around after the needles are in your ear except to take them out. If you want more tea, raise your hand and an acupuncturist will be happy to get you some.

5. Sometimes an acupuncturist will needle other points that are not in the ear but on other parts of the body. These are to help conditions that are better treated with points other than those in the ear. Only the acupuncturist should take out the needles in these points.

6. If the needles fall out of your ear, just hold onto them. The points have already been stimulated and will not have to be re-needled.

7. Do not touch any needles but your own.

8. After 45 minutes, walk up to the mirror and take your needles out. Count them and make sure that you have all ten needles. If you don't have ten, please go back to your seat and find the lost needles. When you have all ten needles, dispose of them in the red container.

9. Check your ears in the mirror for blood after you have taken out the needles. If there is any bleeding, press a piece of cotton to the point for 30 seconds. Discard the cotton ball into the red container.

10. Consent for acupuncture treatment must have been read and signed before treatment is started.


1. Check your seat for needles before sitting down.

2. After your treatment, check your seat and the floor around you for any needles that may have dropped out of your ears.

3. Count your needles before putting them in the Red Container to make sure they are all disposed of properly.

4. Only pick up needles by their handles.

5. ALWAYS put your needles in the Red Container.


Prepared by Ricardo B. Serrano, DAc, MH, ADS, January 1,1998
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