NADA 5-Point Ear Protocol Training

Acudetox and The Serenity Prayer


By Shellie Goldstein LAc

Acupuncture helps you to relax, focus, and get in touch with yourself and your emotions. In an addictions / behavioral health treatment setting the NADA-style needling treatment helps you become more attentive and participatory in groups. It is an effective drug-free group alternative.

NADA Protocol and the Serenity Prayer

The serenity prayer is a hallmark of substance abuse treatment in this country. The NADA 5 point ear protocol complements the meaning and significance of the serenity prayer.

The NADA 5 Point Ear Acupuncture Protocol

The NADA 5 Point Ear Acupuncture Protocol is used to decrease withdrawal symptoms, shorten the length of the withdrawal process, and prevent anxiety which may lead to potential relapse. In addition, acupuncture improves the quality of sleep, stabilizes emotions, and helps to reestablish internal balance.

The NADA five ear points are: Sympathetic
, Shenmen, 
Kidney, Liver, and Lung

Sympathetic (physical relaxation)

The sympathetic point when stimulated with acupuncture treatment, balances our sympathetic system. It helps to relax the sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response, and allow its counterpart, the parasympathetic system, (our ability to relax), to predominate. In essence by treating the sympathetic point we are helping the entire body to physically relax.

Shen Men (emotional/spiritual awareness)

Shen Men, means spirit gate, and when stimulated through acudetox, it opens the door to our inner awareness and higher power. It helps us to relax emotionally and evolve spiritually.

The Kidneys (the big picture)

The Kidney system in Chinese Medicine is the root of our energy. It gathers and stores our jing, pre and post natal qi. Its health reflects our growth and development from birth through death. When our kidney energy is strong, we grow and mature appropriately, and age with youthful vitality. As the foundation of our being, the Kidneys also dominate the way that our mind and thoughts develop. When treating the Kidney energy with acudetox we can open the door to the wisdom of our internal awareness.

There comes a time (or many times) when age and self awareness collide. Often referred to as the ‘mid-life crisis’ it is that moment when time and destiny meet. Like an illuminated light-bulb, it is a moment of reflection, an opportunity to review ones past achievements, and to re-evaluate future visions. It is the realization that unfulfilled dreams have yet to come as the endless sense of time that we once took for granted is dwindling.

National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
Training Resource Manual © NADA 2011 Section X: Appendices 192

For clients in chemical dependency treatment it is that momentary flash of “Oh my God! I am ___ years old, I have been _____________ (using drugs, been in and out of prison,…) and if I continue down this path, my life will be over before I have the chance to live it.” For some, this realization is life changing. For others it is a fleeting moment. Ear acupuncture on the kidney point helps to hold the door open, keep the light bulb illuminated, and help you to deal with the fear of change that comes when realizing, reevaluating, and potentially changing your life.

The Liver (the cycles of life)

The Liver system in Oriental medicine governs the way that qi flows throughout the body. As the army general, its job is to maintain a smooth flow of internal qi and blood. We know that the body, mind, and spirit function optimally when in a state of balance. Life and our life’s activities can easily throw us out of harmony. The cycles of life and the emotion of anger are both related to the Liver. When the Liver system is imbalanced, it creates chaos within and without. Anger flares and as a result inappropriate behavior occurs. In a drug related setting, it is often this rash and volatile behavior that gets one in trouble both with oneself and the law. Treating the liver system helps you to stay calm and creates internal quiescence such that one can learn to respond to life rather than react to it. When this occurs, our behavior and decisions are more appropriate.

When faced with the perception of danger (i.e.: someone verbally or physically assaulting you) the natural response within the addicted / behaviorally challenged population is to fight back (verbally or physically). Whether right or wrong, the repercussions may span from injury (internal or external) to death. In addition, it is generally the self-justification for relapse. To change ones behavior (i.e. choose to walk away vs. fight back) requires the courage to know that in that moment you are safe, secure, and strong enough to walk away. Acupuncture treatment on the Liver point empowers you to choose rather than react.

The Lungs (the moment)

The Lung system governs the moment to moment taking in and letting go of oxygen, life, and our feelings, particularly that of sadness. Most people in CD treatment have suffered personal loss either due to drugs, alcohol, and/or lifestyle. This loss can also be related to the loss of ones’ own youth, childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood due to the use of drugs and alcohol. The act of breathing helps to put us in touch with our feelings. For this reason, it is often difficult for addicts and behavioral health participants who are not used to dealing with their emotions, to breathe deeply. The Lung point in ear acupuncture helps this population to gently accept the moment, accept their feelings, and to deal with the sadness and grief for the losses in their lives.

Receiving the NADA protocol helps your body to heal itself. The beauty here is that it does not push you, but rather it guides you in the direction of healing. (Empty Fire…)

God, (Shen Men)
grant me the serenity (Shen Men & Sympathetic) to accept the things that I can not change (Lungs) the courage to change the things I can (Liver) and the wisdom to know the difference (Kidney).