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Can acupuncture help with benzo withdrawal symptoms

Q: I have been receiving acupuncture 2x/week for 3.5 months. She has done a great job in relieving benzo withdrawal symptoms. But the last two weeks...the constant cycling back and forth of sweating and chills has gotten much worse. Constantly showering and stripping and changing cool to warm clothes Is wearing me out. Cannot function at all. Any thoughts?

A: First and foremost we think the best thing to do is to discuss this directly with your practitioner. If she or she has done a good job in helping you through the withdrawal symptoms it suggests that he or she has a good handle on what is going on with your system. There are a number of functional disorders as understood in Chinese medicine which can lead to strange and unpredictable changes in body temperature, and while the parts of the system which cause these may not the actual problem they will point clearly to what may be malfunctioning. Given that the practitioner knows the primary imbalances well, it should be a relatively straightforward matter to follow the trail and adjust the treatment accordingly.

Depending on the extent of your dependency it might just be a final flourish of the energetic disturbances making its way to the surface. It is not unknown when treating, for example, recovering alcoholics for there to be a kind of honeymoon period where everything seems to be going really well and then a sudden outburst of rashes, hot sweats and other unpleasant symptoms which we have always understood in terms of the Chinese wisdom that disease often progresses from the exterior to the interior so that when the process is reversed there can be a sudden upsurge in unpleasant but transient symptoms. 3.5 months after treatment started would be a little unusual for this to happen, but could not be entirely ruled out. Most of the benzo withdrawal websites are at pains to point out that it can take a long time for all of the side effects of withdrawal to subside, and temperature changes akin to the kind of things people experience in anxiety or panic attacks are a common feature/

The problems you are experiencing sound may also have a conventional medical explanation, though, and it would be wise to visit your GP and try to arrange for a series of blood tests, especially tests of hormone levels. When people are having acupuncture treatment it is tempting to see everything that happens as a consequence of the treatment, which applies to both practitioner and patient alike. This can sometimes be entirely contingent, though, and testing bloods may reveal a hormonal imbalance which is driving this unpleasant process along, or some other physiological problem. Whether this is treatable with conventional medicine or whether you simply let the practitioner know so that they can adjust the treatment they are giving is your call.

There isn't a great deal more that we can say. You have done a great job in coming off benzodiazepines; not many people realise just how addictive they can become and how hard the process of withdrawal can be. We suspect that this may still be a part of that process, but if your treatment so far has been beneficial in helping you along, there is no reason why it should not help you to deal with this phase. Your practitioner is best placed to deal with this.

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