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The NADA protocol- Acupuncture for drug and alcohol detoxification, depression, PTSD and anxiety.

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

The NADA protocol and how it works;

Ear, or Auricular acupuncture has been shown to effectively calm the nervous system, relaxing the mind and body. Small acupuncture needles are inserted into acupuncture points on the ear that directly communicate with, and pacify the central nervous system resulting in a switch from the 'fight or flight' response (sympathetic) that we experience when stressed or in panic, to the 'rest and digest' (parasympathetic) response that allows for healing and homeostasis to occur within the body. When the nervous system is not in a constant state of hyperarousal, the body is able to naturally regulate its cellular, neurological and hormonal processes, resulting in healing, optimal health and disease prevention.

The selected 5 acupuncture points used in the NADA protocol have been shown to produce biochemical, neurological, emotional, and cognitive effects, reducing drug and alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms, reducing anxiety and depression symptoms and producing mental clarity. Acupuncture needles are usually retained for 35-45 minutes and often administered in a group setting allowing for patients to feel supported and able to communicate freely throughout the session, sharing stories and support with one another if desired. Alternatively, treatments are also able to be administered privately, and either combined with other acupuncture points or as a stand-alone treatment.

Acu-detox programs have been operating widely in the United States since the early 1970’s assisting people with detoxification from illicit drugs and alcohol, dampening down withdrawal symptoms and quieting the mind providing relief for many patients suffering from mental health complaints, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The effectiveness of this technique was initially discovered by a neurosurgeon from Hong Kong who was using electrically stimulated ear acupuncture points for analgesic purposes when he became aware that the treatment also reduced the opiate withdrawal symptoms in one of his patients. The technique was tested on other patients and proved to have repeated effects. 

In 1974, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Smith, who was at the time involved with a methadone program and looking at alternatives to drug therapy for patients, became aware of these findings. 
He continued to refine the protocol through experimentation, eventually settling on the five points that would become the Acu-Detox protocol. Dr. Michael Smith called the protocol “NADA” based loosely on the Spanish meaning of the word, “nothing.” Smith's view was that everyone inherently has the ability to heal themselves, the practitioner's job is to merely facilitate this process by administering the acupuncture needles to achieve the desired response, providing relief for the patient. The NADA protocol is still currently used in many detox centers in the USA and widely used by western medical and acupuncture practitioners to treat mental health complaints, PTSD, anxiety, depression and pain management.

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