• The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association is a nonprofit association that conducts training and provides public education about the use of acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment for addictions and mental disorders.
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  • May 2020
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About NADA

About the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

The NADA conducts education and training related to the use of the specific auricular (ear) acupuncture NADA protocol within comprehensive addiction treatment programs to relieve suffering during detoxification, prevent relapse and support recovery. In line with the spirit of NADA, the organization strives to make acupuncture-based, barrier-free addiction treatment accessible to all communities and to ensure its integration with other treatment modalities. NADA is an educational, not for profit, tax-exempt corporation.

Contact NADA

E-mail: NADAOffice@Acudetox.com
Phone: (360) 254 0186   Fax: (360) 260 8620

Mail: NADA  PO Box 1927  Vancouver WA 98668-1927

Board of Directors

Kenny O. Carter, MD, MPH, Medical Acupuncturist – Charlotte, NC

Vice President
Rachel Toomim, AP – Sarasota, FL

Mark G. Farrington, RN, CNS – Charlottesville, VA

David Eisen, LAc, MSW – Portland, OR

Training Chair
Claudia Voyles, LAc – Austin, TX

Immediate Past President
Carol B. Taub, LAc – Portland, OR.

Board Members
Cally Haber, LAc – Santa Cruz, CA
Sheila Murphy, JD – Chicago, IL
Nancy Smalls – Bronx, NY
Phyllis Spears, MS, RN – Tucson, AZ

Founding Chairperson
Michael O. Smith, MD, DAc
Bronx, NY

Frequently Asked Questions of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

What does NADA do?

The NADA mission exists to utilize the principles of both Chinese medicine and Western chemical dependency therapies to bring significant benefit to persons in the process of recovery from all forms of drug addiction as well as alcoholism and a variety of mental disorders. The NADA protocol, a simplified “auricular” (ear-point) needling technique derived from acupuncture, and especially designed for this type of treatment, has been carefully developed and extensively tested.

“Nada,” in Spanish, means “nothing.” It signifies an abstinence-oriented, pharmaceutical-free no-nonsense approach. However, the NADA method can be used in conjunction with almost any existing type of addiction therapy, including 12 Step, therapeutic community, cognitive-behavioral, drug court, opiate-replacement, inpatient and outpatient. It is inexpensive and popular in most cultural circumstances.

A NADA clinic can function in any location where people being treated can sit in a group. NADA is a catalyst for social development. After NADA provides the necessary training and consultation, direct clinical services continue under the aegis of local agencies.

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.

How does NADA carry out its mission?

1. Public education about acupuncture as a recovery tool, including annual conferences in North America and Europe.
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. Distributing NADA-approved reference material.
5. 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 patient (in most circumstances) relaxes quietly in a comfortable chair. Ordinarily, groups of patients sit together while undergoing the treatment. The procedure functions as an adjunct to a comprehensive addiction treatment program offering the basic therapeutic elements of counseling, education, family involvement, mutual support group involvement, supportive health care of general nature. Patients 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 patients 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.

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 did NADA begin?

In 1985, following 10 years of their experience developing the basic five ear-points NADA protocol for treatment of addiction, the staff and other professionals associated with the South Bronx’s Lincoln Hospital determined a need for a national-level organization to expand training capacity and awareness of the value of acupuncture as a tool of recovery.

NADA was then 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, including counselors, social workers, nurses, medical doctors, psychologists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, outreach workers, drug court judges, corrections officers and others to use the protocol.

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, harm reduction and similar outreach projects, homeless shelters, jails, prisons and halfway houses. According to 2000 data from the US government, more than 700 publicly licensed addiction treatment programs in the country include acupuncture as a therapeutic tool.

NADA estimates that more than 2000 such sites exist 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.

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.

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.

How do government regulations 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, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, 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.

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. NADA directs its training sites towards persons in helping roles who are experienced in the field of addiction treatment and who have a commitment to helping those who still suffer.

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. Regular updates on ongoing publications and reports about relevant clinical outcomes are found in Guidepoints. Many of the basic items in the literature of the field appear in the list of NADA reference materials. A bibliography of relevant publications is available in the Members area.

What defines a NADA Registered Trainer?

Persons who have been trained by NADA and who have utilized the NADA protocol in a clinical setting for two years may request an application for status as a Registered Trainer. Decisions about granting of Registered Trainer status can also be determined by the evidence for the need for training capability in a given locale. The application process includes completing a questionnaire and submitting documents and references along with an application fee. After reviewing the documents and interviewing the applicant and references, the NADA training committee will determine if the applicant can move onto the next step. This involves serving as a co-trainer with one of the NADA veteran Registered Trainers throughout the course of a regular Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist training.

NADA Registered Trainers maintain their status by payment of annual dues, complying with continuing education requirements and other administrative policies, attendance at national trainer meetings, and adherence to the NADA Code of Ethics.

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