About Acupuncture Detoxification/5-Point Auricular Acupuncture

About Acupuncture Detoxification/5-Point Auricular Acupuncture

earIndividuals 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.

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

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.


My current mentor and clinical acupuncture supervisor is Laura Cooley L.Ac./NADA Trainer/Clinical Supervisor

Laura Cooley is a licensed acupuncturist who has trained more than 700 professionals to use the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association’s (NADA) 5-point ear acupuncture protocol. She trained staff from Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York City after 9/11 and the Musician’s Clinic in New Orleans post-Katrina. Her interest in global healing traditions brought her as a NADA trainer to the Acoma Pueblo, and the Mescalero Apache and Cheyenne River Reservations. Laura is a panel member of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment’s Treatment Improvement Protocols Manual on the use of ear acupuncture. She also spent four years as a journalist covering the use of innovative treatments for addictions and mental health issues. Laura is the Legislative Liaison for NADA and has assisted in the passage of multiple laws that create better access to acupuncture services throughout the US.

Laura is the Director and Producer of Unimagined Bridges, a film addressing the efficacy of ear acupuncture for disaster/trauma relief in the aftermath of 9/11, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.