Traditional Chinese Medicine, Addiction and Enterhealth

By Dr. Susana E. Mendez, OMD, MBA, ABMPP, CAS, LCDC, LAC, Enterhealth  Vice President of Alterative Therapy & Family Services, Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence

At Enterhealth, we’re always looking for ways to enhance our evidence-based treatment programs to suit the specific needs and wants of our clientele. In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the techniques used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). However, since many people are unfamiliar with TCM and its potential benefits, we would like to explain them a bit, as well as how Enterhealth is using TCM to enhance our alcohol and drug addiction treatment.

TCM is based on a framework of more than two thousand years of Chinese medical knowledge and practice, but informed by modern medicine. Today, it is mainly incorporated as an alternative approach that complements Western medicine, but many people still choose to use TCM alone.

TCM includes many different practices, including acupuncture, moxibustion (the application of heated herbs to acupuncture points), Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese therapeutic massage (Tuina), dietary therapy, and tai chi and qi gong (yoga-like practices of movements, breathing and focus).

Herbal Medicine

Describing thousands of medicinal herbs and other substances, the Chinese Materia Medica is a pharmacological reference book used by TCM practitioners. The substances it describes are primarily plants, but it also include some minerals and animal products. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests modern addiction recovery medicines may be more impactful when combined with traditional herbal treatments. One additional benefit of this combination is the substantial lack of side effects and negative drug interactions associated with most Chinese herbs.

Acupuncture

The World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health recognize acupuncture as a solution for many treatable medical conditions, including chronic pain, fatigue, addiction, emotional issues, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, digestive disorders, and more. When applied to alcohol and drug addiction treatment, studies have shown that acupuncture can relieve withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, stress, anxiety and depression, improve sleep, alleviate aches and pains, and reduce the symptoms of PTSD. It is also unique in that it is effective regardless of the patient’s level of motivation, and tends to increase their ability to effectively participate in other aspects of therapy.

Acudetox (Acupuncture Detoxification) is an auricular acupuncture program (sometimes referred to as “ear acupuncture”) that is gaining popularity in the United States. Acudetox therapy involves gently placing five small sterile disposable stainless steel needles in specific sites in each ear, and leaving them in while clients sit quietly for 45 minutes. Acudetox is gaining attention due to its effectiveness in helping to relieve withdrawal symptoms from substances ranging from alcohol to caffeine, prescription drugs, nicotine, while also proving effective with issues like gambling, PTSD and ADHD.

At Enterhealth, we find that the secret to getting the most out of combining traditional Chinese medicine with our modern, medically-based approach is to find the right combination for each individual. Our team of addiction specialists works together to create a unique treatment plan for every patient, and these plans can be tailored to include TCM as a complementary treatment component.

To learn more about how Enterhealth is using successful traditional Chinese medicine techniques in conjunction with the latest in evidence-based addiction treatment, please visit enterhealth.com or call 855-393-8656.

About the Author: Susana Mendez, OMD, MBA, ABMPP, CAS, LCDC, LAc
Clinical Director, Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence

Dr. Susana Mendez serves as the clinical director of Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence where she oversees the comprehensive clinical programs and staff. Prior to her current position, she served as a psychotherapist at Enterhealth Ranch.

Mendez has held positions with other addiction treatment and recovery facilities, mental health and wellness centers and hospitals, including Homeward Bound, Nexus Recovery Center, Doctors Hospital and others on the east coast. She has more than 30 years of experience in treating addiction and dual-diagnosis patients, has conducted numerous research studies and concentrates in both Western and Eastern theories of care. She has given lectures at industry conferences, educational institutions and non-profits across the U.S. and Europe about addiction, therapies and treatments, mental health, co-dependency and other related topics. On the national and global stage, she is a frequent speaker about the need to develop and maintain a high standard of care for the dual-diagnosis patient.

Mendez earned her M.D. in psychiatry from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, where she also completed her residency program. She completed post-doctorate work in psychiatry and neurology in Spain and received her master’s in oriental medicine from the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. Her MBA is from the University of Salamanca, Spain.