Acudetox: An innovative tool for those detoxing from drugs and alcohol

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol is one of the most commonly used forms of acupuncture in the United States. A 2012 survey by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported that more than 600 licensed addiction treatment programs include acupuncture as a therapeutic tool. One of them is Harmony Foundation.

“NADA is a simple, non-verbal treatment that involves needle insertion at five ear points called Shen Men, Sympathetic, Kidney, Liver, and Lung,” explains Marianne Dungan, director of nursing at Harmony. “The treatment can help ward off even severe cravings and process trauma, grief, anxiety, and anger. Many clients also report sleeping much better after treatment sessions.”

According to NADA, the many benefits of ear acupuncture include:

  • Reduced cravings for alcohol and drugs, including nicotine
  • Minimized withdrawal symptoms
  • Increased calmness, better sleep, and less agitation
  • Relief from stress and emotional trauma
  • An easier connection with counseling
  • Discovery of inner quiet and strength

“Minimizing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings means rehab patients get out of detox quicker,” says Dungan. Relief from stress and trauma is a crucial aspect of this treatment. “Most addictions are driven by underlying mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety, and depression, so addressing those issues with acupuncture enhances their addiction treatment.”

“Traditional Chinese medicine is used to treat disease itself rather than only symptoms,” wrote Ning Ding, Linzhi Li, et al., in a 2020 study on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. “Acupuncture, accepted by the majority of patients, offers a new option to help patients solve mental issues caused by traumatic events. There are growing clinical and experimental evidences for promoting acupuncture to be applied for different mental health disorders.”

2017 research found that the NADA protocol when combined with traditional treatment methods improves quality of life enjoyment and satisfaction (QLES), feeling better about oneself and improved energy, the likelihood of employment upon discharge, and decreased alcohol use at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups.

“Improvement in quality of life scores and symptoms associated with depression could be attributed to the physiological effects associated with acupuncture including changes in the production of neurotransmitters which influences the body’s regulator system and chemical balance,” wrote the authors.

NADA is effective, cost-efficient, and drug-free. “Clients sit quietly for approximately 30 minutes allowing the treatment to take effect,” explains Dungan. Before she began performing the treatment on clients, the registered nurse was fully trained as an acupuncture detoxification specialist.

“It doesn’t necessarily work for everybody, but it’s not a harmful intervention, so why not give it a try?” says Dungan, “Every week, I’m actually surprised how much it can achieve.”

NADA is part of the holistic approach to healing trauma and addiction utilized at Harmony Foundation. All our staff have been trained in trauma-informed care. Realizing that addiction is a biopsychosocial and spiritual disease, Harmony’s treatment program promotes physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, empowering patients to embark upon a lifelong journey of recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, or you have questions about our programs, call us today at (970) 432-8075 to get the help needed as soon as possible. Our experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.