Weighty Matters: talking to our patients about addiction

With Guest: Xander Kahn

Episode Qi024

Plenty of people seek out acupuncture in particular as they have heard a few needles in the ear will break their cigarette habit, or cause their appetite and cravings to completely transform. We’ve all heard stories of someone’s cousin who got needled once and never smoked again or they lost a lot of weight. But how many of these people have you seen get these results in your clinic?

Often patients seek out Chinese medicine for weight loss, weight control or smoking cessation. Many of us don’t have training in dealing with addictions and it can be a challenge for the practitioner to know how to approach someone who suffers from a troublesome life habit, is not sure if they really want to change it or not, and furthermore has a lot of experience with failing to live up to the image of the life they want. Do they need to be pushed, like in the now popular boot camp, gently supported, encouraged and educated or perhaps they need something else?

In this episode we discuss some ways of opening up this kind of difficult conversation with our patients. And bringing some reality to the situation, which can be helpful in changing expectations and a patient’s experience of themselves in our Internet world that constantly promises quick fixes.
In this conversation we discuss:
  • Importance of letting the patient initiate their emotional work
  • Clinical reality vs hype of smoking cessation
  • Power of the question “Can you see your life without _____?”
  • Difference between Cultivation and Letting Go
  • Need for practitioners to do their own emotional work
  • Power of trajectory and making small changes
  • Role of kindness
  • Confusion about realistic timeframes for change
  • Book “In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Maté
  • Enlightening question of “If you quit, would you have the life you wanted?” 
Practice gentleness and kindness towards yourself
Xander Kahn
I love practicing this medicine because it views the body as an ecosystem, as a part of nature. The strength of East Asian Medicine is its time-tested ability to diagnose certain patterns of inner ecological dysfunction. A given pattern of dysfunction can lead to a variety of different symptoms. Bring balance to the underlying dysfunction and the symptoms resolve on their own. At its core this is very simple: where there is dampness, dry things out; where there is heat, cool things off; if the system is too stressed, help it to soften and relax.

The body wants to heal, it often just needs a little push in the right direction.

I graduated with a Master’s degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (MAcOM) from the Seattle Institute of East Asian Medicine (SIEAM). While at SIEAM, I studied various forms of acupuncture, bodywork and herbal medicine under the tutelage of internationally regarded instructors. It was there that I began studying Applied Channel Theory with Jason Robertson, EAMP, with whom I continue to study regularly.
Links and Resources

Visit Xander online at www.xanderkahn.com

Gil Fronsdal of Audiodharma on Cultivating and Letting Go




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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.

Michael Max

Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
About me
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.

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