The NADA Protocol, Ear Acupuncture to treat Addiction and Mental Health

What is NADA?

The NADA protocol is the use of five points in each ear, the same each time, to help patients with the side effects of coming off drugs. The points used are called Sympathetic, Shen Men, Liver, Kidney and Lung. The combination are seen to give a holistic treatment to all areas of the body affected by drug abuse. The treatment is given in a non-verbal group environment where patients can come, sit together and enjoy the meditative affect of the treatment.

The History of NADA

Although acupuncture has been in society for centuries, it is relatively recent that this protocol came into use. In the 1970’s, the psychiatrist Dr Michael Smith, who was already working with drug addicts, learnt about auricular acupuncture being used in Hong Kong and brought the idea back to the US. He very quickly discovered it promoted relaxation and reduced cravings in his patients. He then experimented with different ear points and came up with the most effective point selection which we still use today.

The Benefits of NADA

  • A reduction of cravings for the substance including prescription drugs

  • A clearer mind which helps and enhances the benefits of counselling

  • Reduction of withdrawal symptoms

  • Improved sleep patterns

  • Improvement of other health problems which can be associated with long term drug and alcohol abuse

  • Marked relaxation

NADA and other areas of Mental Health

Having been used so successfully to benefit drug users, the protocol has been used in other areas to treat stress, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. After the 9/11 attacks in New York, St Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan set up a clinic space at Ground Zero to treat the emergency relief workers from insomnia and PTSD, it ran 24 hours a day for months. In the UK the NADA protocol has been taken into prisons, schools and other areas within the community offering relief from addiction, stress, insomnia and generally promoting mental wellbeing.

As an acupuncturist I often use auricular acupuncture and the NADA protocol and have seen first hand its benefits. I have also trained with Rachel Peckham, Director of NADA GB, learning how to best use the treatment within communities.


If its time for you finally take the plunge and free yourself from the constraints of cigarette addiction, why not give the NADA protocol a go!

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