Encouraging Community Wellness for Behavioral Health including Addictions, Mental Health, and Disaster & Emotional Trauma.

National Acupuncture Detoxification Association – NADA

NADA Mission Statement

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association trains people in the NADA protocol, an ear acupressure and acupuncture intervention for trauma, substance misuse, abuse, dependence and related behavioral and mental health conditions. Together we promote and advocate for access to holistic health as a right of all communities.


We envision a world where healthcare is people-centered, holistic, and accessible to the most vulnerable and underserved in our communities.

Principles of NADA

Spirit of NADA

All beings have a right to self-determination, the capacity to transform, and be part of transforming society.  NADA changes the dominant paradigm.


The NADA protocol is easy to learn and to teach.


We trust that people are capable of learning and that everyone has the capacity to heal themselves.


NADA is a non-verbal protocol that meets people where they are. Sharing the protocol bridges cultural divides.


Accessible & Barrier-free

Historically and in the present day there are many barriers to healthcare. Racism, casteism and all “isms†are healthcare matters. We work to make the NADA protocol barrier-free & available to all. We believe everyone should have access to receive and learn the NADA protocol.


We bring an intention of healing to everyone with whom we share the NADA protocol.


Healing & recovery happens in community and the NADA protocol is easily incorporated in diverse settings. We come together across disciplines to promote an integrated approach to healthcare.


NADA Does the following


Trains health providers in the United States and Canada to use a simple, safe and standardized ear acupuncture protocol to treat addictions, behavioral health, trauma and disaster relief.


Provides education, consultation and assistance in establishing and sustaining ear acupuncture services within behavioral health and addiction treatment programs.


Advocates for public policies in the United States and Canada that increase access to NADA ear acupuncture.

NADA’s History

Developed in the 1970s at Lincoln Detox (Bronx, N.Y.), the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol was originally used as a supportive component in drug and alcohol treatment settings. Learn more about Lincoln Detox & history of the NADA protocol.

The 3-5 point ear acupuncture formula controlled withdrawal symptoms and helped patients become more clear-headed and comfortable.

NADA was established as a North American organization to expand training capacity and awareness of the value of acupuncture as a tool of recovery.

Michael Smith
October 16, 1942 – December 24, 2017

Mike was a leader in the development of acupuncture in addiction treatment. He and the staff of Lincoln Detox figured out how to train lay people in five-point, ear acupuncture protocol and in the mid-1980s helped found NADA, which was incorporated in 1985.

Read more about Michael Smith

Incorporated in 1985 in the state of New York, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association has helped spread acudetox far and wide, nationally and internationally.

NADA was established to enroll members, establish a collection of related reference materials, codify a training curriculum and develop a flexible system for registering qualified trainers and delivering trainings.

NADA has since trained more than 10,000 health professionals in North America to use the protocol, including

  • counselors
  • social workers
  • nurses
  • medical doctors
  • psychologists
  • acupuncturists
  • chiropractors
  • outreach workers
  • drug court judges
  • corrections officers
  • family members
  • and others.


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

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association trains people in the NADA protocol, an ear acupressure and acupuncture intervention for trauma, substance misuse, abuse, dependence and related behavioral and mental health conditions. Together we promote and advocate for access to holistic health as a right of all communities.


We envision a world where healthcare is people-centered, holistic, and accessible to the most vulnerable and underserved in our communities.

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: News from NADA, a quarterly member newsletter that reports on current developments in the field.
What is the "NADA protocol"?
Individuals trained through NADA apply up to five fine-gauge, sterilized, one-time use stainless steel needles just under the skin at designated points in each ear. The needles remain there 30-45 minutes. Ordinarily, groups of people sit together while undergoing the treatment. The procedure functions as an adjunct within a comprehensive treatment program that offers other therapeutic elements including counseling, education, family involvement, mutual support group involvement, and supportive medical health care. 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 both 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 commonly referred to as: acudetox, 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?â€
Since the NADA Protocol works by mobilizing the existing internal resources of a person, 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 U.S.A. and Canada, many localities encourage the implementation of a NADA program through regulations that allow non-acupuncturist health providers to be trained in the NADA protocol, often under the supervision of a licensed acupuncturist or medical doctor. States and provinces that regulate this through a legal statute (law) are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ontario, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming. To see a list of states and their PDFs, click here. An additional three states (North Carolina, Ohio and Washington) give nurses (only nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants in NC) the ability to practice, under the auspice of physician delegation. In Washington, the practice of NADA is an administrative rule in the state’s nursing code. The nursing board in Ohio and the medical board of North Carolina consider NADA to be within the scope of physician delegation. There are no existing statutes for these three states. In three states, the practice of acupuncture is not regulated. These include: Alabama, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. In Canada, the following provinces do not have acupuncture regulations: Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut Territory, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory. There are NADA members in these jurisdictions. In any state or province not specifically listed above, the practice of NADA is restricted to licensed acupuncturists or providers eligible to practice acupuncture in that jurisdiction, such as medical doctors.
How does a person obtain NADA training?
Clinicians who wish to become proficient in the NADA protocol must study under a NADA Registered Trainer, usually by participating in a classroom training course followed by a hands-on practicum in a clinical setting. 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 Acudetox 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. Completion of NADA training does not lead to certification. Certification implies refresher trainings and annual submission of continuing education credits. NADA does not require this for its Acu Detox Specialist members. We do encourage you to maintain an active NADA membership, but this is also optional.
Are people trained by acupuncturists?
In the U.S.A., 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, 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 health professionals who have received NADA training are acupuncturists, but NADA training alone is not considered a qualification for that designation.
Where does NADA operate?
NADA members are based in all states of the U.S.A. and most provinces of Canada and are associated occupationally with a wide variety of healthcare settings. These include addiction treatment programs, mental health facilities, active-duty military and veterans healthcare programs, harm reduction and similar outreach projects, homeless shelters, jails, prisons and halfway houses. According to data from the U.S. 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, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Independently operating entities provide NADA services and training in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Caledonia, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom. 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
  • Doctor
  • 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 acudetox today
  • From jails to prisons to community re-entry
  • 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 s 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: sickle cell,breast cancer
  • survivors of violence
  • mental health consumer groups
How is NADA funded?
The modest capacity of the NADA budget is funded by the annual membership dues 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 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. NADA cooperates closely with other organizations in the Oriental medicine and addiction treatment fields, but operates entirely on its own and is not dependent any outside entity for its support, including the government, foundations or other philanthropic entities. 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.
How is NADA organized?
Governed by a volunteer board of directors, NADA maintains a national office which manages its membership, processes applications for completion of training for Acu Detox Specialists, provides information and referrals to the public, manages the website, distributes approved NADA literature, publishes the bimonthly member newsletter, Guidepoints, and coordinates all registrations to the annual conference. Additionally the office provides consultation and support to both its members and the public in regards to setting up and implementing NADA programs.
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 differ 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 an annotated bibliography and a current up-to-date summary of research. There are also full research and outcome studies available for purchase in the bookstore, under the NADA paper titled Research and Outcomes. This publication can be downloaded for free for members logged in to the Member Center.
Are NADA treatments safe for pregnant women?
Yes. There is a very successful and documented history of treating pregnant addicted women with NADA acupuncture. In the July 2013 issue of Guidepoints we asked several clinicians to weigh in on the issue. Ralph Raben, the founder of NADA Germany and a physician with 35 years of experience as an OB/GYN reported on the safety of using all 5 points based on the experience of his team which includes doctors, nurses and midwives who apply the protocol with pregnant women daily. NADA’s founder, Michael Smith, added that Lincoln Recovery Center was given an award by the American Hospital Association in 1991 for their innovative pregnancy program which used acupuncture to treat women addicted to cocaine. The Maternal Substance Abuse Services (MSAS) Program founded in the 1980s at Lincoln by Nancy Smalls provides a lasting legacy in the treatment of this special population. You can read more about the design of the MSAS program in the September 2013 issue of Guidepoints.
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, mental health and trauma. 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 as well as personal news about the activities of NADA members worldwide. Organizations desiring to receive Guidepoints may do so by having an individual staff member join NADA as an Associate Member.
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