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Welcome to NADA

Improving access to recovery for communities worldwide.

Welcome to the website of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association! Whether you are looking to get NADA trained as an Acu Detox Specialist, or hoping to integrate acupuncture protocol into your addictions or behavioral health program, or researching the use of acupuncture in addictions and mental health treatment, you've come to the right place.
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NADA is an Alternative to Psych Meds in Western Mass: Welcome to the Freedom Center

Guidepoints, May 2011

by Will Hall and Lee Hurter

The Freedom Center (www.freedom-center.org), a peer-led organization in Northampton, Massachusetts, run by and for people labeled with severe 'mental disorders' and people who experience extreme states, has been providing NADA treatments through their free drop-in clinic since 2006.

NADA Visionary Alex Brumbaugh Passed Away 5/29/2013

Alex Brumbaugh, who has recently contributed 4 articles to Guidepoints, passed away on May 29, 2013. Click here to read his obituary. The July issue of Guidepoints will be a tribute issue to Alex and his landmark work in the fields of addiction and acupuncture.


Spanish for "nothing"



a no-nonsense, non-verbal, no-drug pharmeceutical free, and barrier-free approach to behavioral health



Acu Detox, a five point ear acupuncture protocol for recovery



A not-for-profit training and advocacy organization

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This section has answers and explanations to frequently asked questions. Feel free to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you do not find a suitable answer to your query.



What is the mission of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA)?

NADA's Mission Statement

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), a not-for-profit training and advocacy organization, encourages community wellness through the use of a standardized auricular acupuncture protocol for behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster & emotional trauma. We work to improve access and effectiveness of care through promoting policies and practices which integrate NADA-style treatment with other Western behavioral health modalities.


How does NADA carry out its mission?

1. Public education about acupuncture as a tool for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, from trauma, and other behavioral health issues.

2. Training health care workers in use of the NADA protocol.

3. Offering consultation to local organizations in setting up or adapting treatment sites.

4. Offering consultation to healthcare advocates in promoting polices and legislation which increase client access to NADA-style treatment.

5. Distributing NADA-approved reference material.

6. Publishing Guidepoints, a newsletter reporting on current developments in the field.


What is the "NADA protocol"?

At five designated ear points in each auricle (outer ear), clinicians trained through NADA apply fine gauge, sterilized, one-time use stainless steel needles just under the skin, where they remain for up to an hour while the client (in most circumstances) relaxes quietly in a comfortable chair. Ordinarily, groups of clients sit together while undergoing the treatment. The procedure functions as an adjunct to a comprehensive treatment program offering the basic therapeutic elements of counseling, education, family involvement, mutual support group involvement, supportive health care of general nature. Clients in all types of treatment settings including inpatient, outpatient, incarcerated, shelters, harm reduction and street outreach can utilize this treatment. Among the benefits reported by clients and clinicians are improved program retention, a more optimistic and cooperative attitude toward the process of recovery, as well as reductions in cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbance and need for pharmaceuticals.

The NADA protocol is also known commonly referred to as: acu detox, acupuncture detoxification, five point ear acupuncture protocol, five point protocol, 5NP.

Beyond the actual needling treatment, a key element of the protocol specifies qualities of behavior and attitude on the part of the clinician, consistent with what is known as the Spirit of NADA.


What is the Spirit of NADA?

Since the NADA Protocol works by mobilizing the existing internal resources of the patient, every aspect of a clinician's interaction with persons in need is to help them help themselves. Opening access to the treatment itself comes first. This occurs through eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic, socio-economic and environmental barriers to starting a program of recovery. The next task is to create a zone of peace within which patients can begin to experience their own inner strengths. Finally, and in respect to the other aspects, keep it simple.


How do state laws differ?

In the USA and Canada, many localities encourage the full NADA program through regulations allowing the training and utilization of non-acupuncturist health providers in the NADA protocol, always under the supervision of a licensed acupuncturist or medical doctor. Among these states and provinces are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington. Some other jurisdictions continue to restrict any application of acupuncture needles to licensed acupuncturists or the equivalent. The general trend in regulation is to move into the NADA-favorable category.

Click here to learn more about NADA policy making and legislative advocacy efforts to allow health providers in the fields of mental health, addictions, disaster response and trauma treatment to receive and utilize NADA training. 


How does a person obtain NADA training?

Clinicians who wish to become proficient in the NADA protocols must study under a NADA Registered Trainer, usually by participating in a 30-hour classroom/didactic training course followed by 40 hours of hands-on work in a clinic. Upon completion of training, the trainee's documentation is submitted to NADA for final approval and issuance of a certificate of training completion as an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist, or Acu Detox Specialist (ADS). NADA directs its training sites towards persons in helping roles who are experienced in the field of behavioral health and who have a commitment to helping those who still suffer.

Click here to learn more about NADA training.


Are people trained by NADA acupuncturists?

In the USA, the term "acupuncturist" ordinarily refers to a person who has completed advanced, often graduate-level, education in the general practice of Oriental medicine and who is prepared as a professional to diagnose and treat a wide variety of health conditions according to the principles of that teaching. Such a person may also be licensed, or certified or registered by a government agency that regulates health care and/or be granted professional recognition by a non-governmental credentialing organization such as the National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Many of the health professionals who have received NADA training are acupuncturists, but NADA training alone would not be considered as qualification for that designation.


Where does NADA operate?

NADA members are based in all states of the USA and most provinces of Canada and are associated occupationally with a wide variety of healthcare settings. These include addiction treatment programs, mental health facilities, military veterans healthcare programs, harm reduction and similar outreach projects, homeless shelters, jails, prisons and halfway houses. According to data from the US government, more than 1000 publicly licensed addiction treatment programs in the country include acupuncture as a therapeutic tool.

NADA estimates that there are more than 2000 clinics worldwide since NADA training and treatments have taken root in many locales outside North America. These are found in nearly every European country including Russia, plus the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Independently operating branches of NADA function in Denmark, Israel, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Hungary, Russia, Switzerland, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and India. Globally, more than 25,000 health workers have completed the NADA training.

New geographical areas desiring to establish a NADA capability may utilize the organizational functions of the original North American based entity until they attain the ability and need to function independently under NADA principles.

While derived originally from the Chinese medicine theory of detoxification, the NADA method is adaptable to almost all cultural milieus and physical environments. NADA treatment is feasible, even in settings where threats of violence had previously made it difficult to serve clients.

Below is a list of the diverse settings and health specialties that have incorporated the NADA protocol:

Emergency Medicine/Disaster Relief
Firefighters...First Responders...
Emergency Medical Technicians/Specialists...Paramedics...Nurses...Doctors...

Addictions Treatment
from harm reduction to 12-step...
from opiate maintenance to detox...
from abstinence based inpatient to outpatient...

Mental Health
from psychiatric hospitals to outpatient mental health and dual diagnosis treatment...

Court Diversion
from the first drug courts in the US, still providing acu detox today...

from jails to prisons to re-integration boot camps...

Community Health
from homeless shelters to refugee camp health promotion...
from musicians clinics to military bases....
from churches to farmer's markets...
from HIV testing centers to HIV/AIDS clinics...
from rape crisis centers to violent and sex offender programs...
from Employee Assistance Programs to senior centers to school teachers and counselors...

Self-Help and Peer Support Groups
To name a few:  sickle cell...breast cancer..survivors of violence...


How is NADA funded?

The modest budget of the NADA budget is funded by the annual membership dues of its members and by a portion of the fees paid by trainees learning the NADA protocol.

Qualified as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, NADA also receives a small amount of personal and corporate donations. These have been earmarked for specific helping projects and used entirely for that purpose with no administrative or other fee going to NADA. Such projects are usually related to training or providing clinical services to deprived or disaster-damaged populations, mostly outside of North America.


How is NADA organized?

Governed by a volunteer board of directors, NADA cooperates closely with other organizations in the Oriental medicine and addiction treatment fields, but operates entirely on its own dependent on no governmental, foundation or other outside entity for its support. In consequence, NADA has no limitations, within established laws and regulations, other than the principles of its mission and its material resources, to its advocacy and activity on behalf of those suffering from addiction, trauma, or other behavioral health issue.

The NADA Board of Directors oversees a small permanent office staff which maintains membership functions, offers consultation, distributes approved NADA literature and manages publishing through the printed Guidepoints newsletter and the NADA website.


What is Guidepoints: News From NADA?

Guidepoints has been published since 1993 as the only healthcare field publication exclusively devoted to the subject area of acupuncture-based treatment of addictions and related disorders. Subscribers have included government agencies, college and university libraries, addiction treatment agencies, psychiatric facilities, drug courts and a wide variety of individual health professionals including acupuncturists, medical doctors, registered nurses, addictions counselors and social workers. The publication became the official membership newsletter of NADA in January 2004.

In addition to reports on journal articles and other news about relevant clinical outcomes, the six times per year newsletter covers related policy and funding developments in the general addiction medicine field as well as personal news about the activities of NADA members. Organizations desiring to receive Guidepoints may do so by have an individual staff member joining NADA as an Associate Member.

Click here to read articles from Guidepoints.


What is the evidence base for acupuncture detoxification?

A wide variety of controlled clinical trials, outcome summaries and anecdotal reports about the use of acupuncture in addiction treatment have been appearing since the 1970s in journals specializing in addictions, mental health, public health, criminal justice and acupuncture. These reports differed vastly in terms of methodology, populations studied, statistical sophistication and clinical relevance as well as in their findings about the value of acupuncture. A sub-category of this published work has focused specifically on the NADA protocol. Within this sub-category is found strong evidence for the effect of the NADA protocol in improving patient outcomes in terms of program retention, reductions in cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbance and need for pharmaceuticals. Evidence also continues to grow for the use of the NADA protocol in psychiatric/behavioral health care, humanitarian aid/trauma, as well as cancer care. 

NADA has several resources available on research and the NADA protocol, including annotated bibliography, a current up-to-date summary of research, and full-text articles of studies.  Please visit our research page to review items available through the NADA Literature Clearinghouse:  http://acudetox.net/research

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