Acupuncture For Addiction Treating Addiction

Results of some studies suggest that the use of acupuncture for addiction, as part of a complete treatment program, may help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Acupuncture “Stop Smoking” Programs

The results of research on acupuncture and addiction to nicotine are mixed, with some studies indicating that using acupuncture to stop smoking may help reduce jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness. Acupuncture in a stop smoking program may also help you relax and enable your body to detoxify. Although acupuncturists tailor treatment to each individual, commonly used points are on the ears and a specific point on the wrist (called the “Tim Mee” point).

Acupuncture Drug Addiction Studies

Most of the research on acupuncture for drug addition revolves around auricular (ear) acupuncture, in which needles are placed in five acupuncture points in the ears. A number of studies have shown promising results, and many drug addiction treatment programs offer acupuncture as one part of a total addiction treatment plan.

Acupuncture and Addiction: The NADA Protocol

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) offers training in a specific protocol for using auricular acupuncture for addiction. The technique goes by various names: acupuncture detoxification, acu detox, five point ear acupuncture protocol, five point protocol and 5NP.

Someone trained in the technique is called an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist or Acu Detox Specialist (ADS). In some states, a person already has to be a trained acupuncturist to offer acu detox, while in other states other healthcare providers can offer acu detox under the supervision of a licensed acupuncturist or medical doctor.

Acu detox is always used in combination with other addiction treatments. According to NADA, the benefits of acu detox include longer stays in addiction treatment programs, more optimism about and cooperation with the recovery process, and reductions in:

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Need for medications
  • Sleep problems.

The NADA protocol is different from a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approach to acupuncture for addition. While acu detox is a set protocol, acupuncturists who practice from a TCM perspective treat each patient as an individual, based on a TCM evaluation of the person’s overall health and circumstances.


Bernall, F. (n.d.). Auricular acupuncture for drug addiction. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from

Joswick, D. (n.d.). Quit smoking with acupuncture. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Information/Detail/Quit Smoking with Acupuncture

National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. (n.d.). FAQs. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from

Yang, C.H., Lee, B.H., and Sohn, S.H. (2008). The effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of drug addiction: Acupuncture and the negative reinforcing effect of abused drugs. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from