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Millions of Americans struggle with compulsive or pathologic gambling, known as gambling disorder. Gambling disorder is a mental health condition, listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). This disorder is becoming more prevalent and, with it, so are the related issues that impact relationships, careers, finances, and other spheres of living.
On the encouraging side, a 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Addiction concluded that people with more severe gambling addictions are more likely to seek help. Help can come in a few different forms, primarily behavior therapy or CBT, medication, and self-help groups, according to Medical News Today.
In this article we’ll explore a non-traditional but evidence-based treatment opportunity: acupuncture and acupressure for gambling disorder treatment.
Acupuncture vs. acupuncture: the quick scoop
Acupuncture and acupressure are both Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques, but they work in slightly different ways.
Here’s a simple explanation:
With acupuncture, a trained practitioner inserts very thin needles into specific points on your body. These points are like the keys on a piano, and by tapping them, the practitioner aims to balance your body’s energy, just like tuning a musical instrument.
Acupressure is like pressing buttons on a control panel. Imagine your body is a high-tech machine with various buttons, like a remote control. In acupressure, instead of needles, pressure is applied to these specific points using fingers or special tools like ear seeds. It’s similar to pushing the right buttons on a remote to make your body’s energy flow smoothly and relieve any discomfort.
In summary, acupuncture involves inserting needles to fine-tune your body’s energy, while acupressure involves applying pressure to specific points like using a remote control to regulate your body’s energy.
Both methods aim to promote balance and well-being. And both methods can be done on the outer ear, which at My Ear Seeds is our focus. When done on the ear, acupuncture and acupressure fall under the umbrella of “auriculotherapy,” or therapy of the ear.
So what does this “therapy of the ear” do for gambling disorder?
A study in the October 2023 issue of the Journal of Behavioral Addictions looked at the effect of auricular acupressure for gambling disorder treatment, specifically the withdrawal of symptoms including:
- Poor appetite
This study’s methodology used an experimental group (receiving the auricular acupressure for six weeks) and a control group (receiving only educational materials on withdrawal symptom management).
The authors found that participants who received ear acupressure did indeed experience significant decreases in gambling disorder withdrawal symptoms compared to the control group. Auricular acupressure for the win!
Other gambling-related auriculotherapy studies exist, searchable on Google Scholar. We like how this 2022 case article called “The Role of Acupuncture in Treating a Patient with a Gambling Disorder” breaks down how auriculotherapy, and in this case acupuncture specifically, works to mitigate and manage gambling disorder:
It helps regulate the reward system; stimulates release of neurotransmitters in the brain; produces neuroprotective effects; and activates certain brain areas to suppress impulsivity and craving and to balance emotions.Yolanda Teja, MD, Irma Nareswari, MD, and Christina L. Simadibrata, MD (2022)
How to do auricular acupressure for gambling disorder treatment yourself
If you or a loved one is dealing with a gambling disorder or addiction, acupressure on the ears using ear seeds as a complementary therapy might be worth your investment and time.
Before you begin with any adjunctive therapies, talk to your healthcare provider or get the help you need another way. If you need immediate help and support, call the 24-hour confidential national gambling helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER or text 800GAM.
If you determine that auricular acupressure by way of ear seeds is something you want to try, the first step is to buy your first ear seeds.
Ear seeds are tiny metal beads or pellets that attach to the ear with a small adhesive sticker. They inexpensively provide continuous gentle pressure on the ear, which makes them one of the best tools for ear acupressure.
This kit includes almost everything you need to get started: ear seeds (choose from gold or silver), precision tweezers, a set of alcohol wipes, and an informational card.
Once you have your kit, you can apply the ear seeds in just a few simple steps, starting with gathering your materials and washing your hands, and ending with lifting them off the plastic backing strip with tweezers, sticking them on your targeted ear points, and pressing to “set” them with your fingertips.
Auricular points for acupressure for gambling disorder treatment
In a 2022 review of 36 auriculotherapy studies on addiction, the most used acupuncture points are as follows:
- Shen Men
Here were the most used acupressure points from the review:
- Shen Men
Now that you have a list of acupuncture and acupressure ear points that the research identifies as helping treat addiction, how do you map or locate them on your own ear?
That’s where Auriculo 360 comes in.
Auriculo 360 is an app that is available on your phone and your computer that features a 3D ear that you can move, zoom, expand, and rotate.
Why is a 3D ear superior to a standard 2D ear acupressure point chart? This image of an ear that we rotated and screenshotted says it all (notice how we rotated the ear to show the hidden Subcortex point):
The Auriculo 360 app offers a generous 30-day trial compared to most other apps that only provide 3-, 7-, or 14-day trials. Download it today and get familiar with all the auricular points for acupressure for gambling disorder treatment.
Auricular acupressure for gambling disorder treatment
Gambling disorder, like so many other addictions, destroys lives — but with the right treatment and help, the turnaround can be redeeming. Auricular acupressure for gambling disorder treatment could be part of your path to sobriety. Buy and try them for yourself today through the link below:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Bijker, R., Booth, N., Merkouris, S. S., Dowling, N. A., & Rodda, S. N. (2022). Global prevalence of help-seeking for problem gambling: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.15952
Lee E. J. (2022). Effects of auriculotherapy on addiction: a systematic review. Journal of addictive diseases, 40(3), 415–427. https://doi.org/10.1080/10550887.2021.2016011
Lee, E. J., & Choi, J. M. (2023). Effects of auricular acupressure on gambling withdrawal symptoms in people with gambling disorder. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 12(Supplement 1), 274.
Teja, Y., Nareswari, I., & Simadibrata, C. L. (2022). The Role of Acupuncture in Treating a Patient with a Gambling Disorder. Medical acupuncture, 34(5), 331–336. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2021.0013