A study was published in Neurochemical Research (2008;33(10):2166–2170). It looked at the effect electroacupuncture had on rats that were trained to drink alcohol voluntarily. The rats were given alcohol, with the goal of creating craving for alcohol; then they were subjected to alcohol deprivation. Some of the rats were given naltrexone, a drug that blocks the effects of opiates. The rats then received electroacupuncture or sham acupuncture. Some of the rats in bot the treatment group and in the control group had been pre treated with naltrexone.

The alcohol intake of the rats was monitored after intervention. The rats receiving the acupuncture treatment reduced their alcohol intake. Rats who were given naltrexone and treated with electroacupuncture did not reduce their alcohol intake. Since the drug blocks the effect of opiates, this suggests that opiate mechanisms made the acupuncture effective.