More and more people are turning to acupuncture as another weapon in the fight against addiction. I should preface this by saying that, in the end, YOU are the one who will ultimately choose the path of either addiction or sobriety. If you are not ready or willing to quit smoking, putting a few needles in your body is not going to magically kill all of your cravings. However, if you are ready to make a change, acupuncture can be a powerful method to help you along. The NADA auricular acupuncture protocol is used for detoxing from substances ranging from caffeine to crack. "Auricular" acupuncture is acupuncture of the ears. Within this field, we often use microsystems very effectively to mirror the body. For example, a body part such as the hand would be broken down to represent the entire body, from head to toe. Needling a part of the hand that represents whatever part is injured would bring relief. Or, take the concept of reflexology-each part of the foot correlates to an organ system, and manipulation of the foot with massage can alleviate symptoms associated with that particular system.
Of all the microsystems in the body (and there are many), the ear is the most powerful. The first time I had the NADA protocol done to me by a student in need of a guinea pig, I was up all night. I had so much energy coursing through my body, I felt...well, actually, kind of aggravated. I really wanted to sleep. But it showed me just how strong the protocol was. It also taught me that, in the future, adding other points to ground the energy was a good idea, so my patients could get some rest afterward!
A lot of research has been done on this protocol, which is widely used. A Yale study of cocaine users showed that addicts using this protocol were twice as likely to refrain from using during treatment. The users were also able to quit using for much longer than those in the control group. This type of acupuncture has also been very regularly and successfully used in prison programs and hospitals.
So, what is this NADA protocol all about? There are five points in the ear that we use: Shen-Men, Sympathetic, and Kidney, Liver, and Lung points. Shen-Men is extremely calming, and also has the effect of strengthening the function of other acupuncture points, magnifying the effects. Sympathetic points balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, and also have a strong effect on pain. The Lung points detox the body, and have a lot to do with "letting go." The Kidney is damaged by the effects of drugs, and using this point will start to rebuild its energy. The Kidney's mental energetic is willpower, so stimulating the Kidney point will increase the will to overcome the addiction. And the Liver points are used to repair the physical damage to the Liver, while also easing the anger and aggression associated with detoxing.
So, if you are ready and willing to overcome an addiction, consider adding the NADA protocol to your recovery process. If the addiction is to drugs or alcohol, therapy will be a necessary part of this process. Acupuncture alone will not be enough to conquer a drug addiction, although it is a valuable tool. For drug and alcohol detox, daily sessions of the NADA protocol are recommended for the best results. After the substances have been fully detoxed from your body, twice weekly sessions will be necessary to stem future cravings. Eventually, the NADA protocol will be needed only monthly, for maintenance.