Pain Management Q&A by Dr. Helm

Can acupuncture help to stop smoking?

Answer:

Smoking, which is better described as nicotine addiction, is a complex addiction, with both psychological and physical components. Stopping smoking is very difficult, as suggested by the old Mark Twain joke, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times."

There are also a thousand treatments available to help stop smoking. Whenever we have a multitude of treatments, it means we don't have any surefire way to treat a problem. Despite the absence of one "silver bullet" to treat nicotine addiction, you can stop smoking. The tools available to do so include both treating the physical addiction, such with as nicotine replacement and other medications, and treating the psychological component, as with support groups.

Many adjunctive therapies are also available, including acupuncture. While there is at least one study showing modest success in using acupuncture to treat smoking, the evidence, in our modern world of evidence-based medicine, is limited. There is no reason not to try acupuncture to stop smoking, but your chances of quitting are best if acupuncture is part of a broader treatment program.

Thank you for your question.

REFERENCE: Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.


Last Editorial Review: 8/31/2012