NADA had its beginnings after a young psychiatrist, in New York’s South Bronx read of the work of a Hong Kong neurosurgen Dr. Wen.

Doctor Hsiang-Lai Wen began researching the connection between ear acupuncture and addiction treatment, when in the early 1970s, he had stuck an acupuncture needle in the lung point of a client and added electrical stimulation. The purpose being for the client to lose sensation in his skull so the surgeon could perform brain surgery while the client was awake.

Dr. Wen did not know that the client was addicted to opium. After a time the client confessed with great delight to the nurse that his withdrawal symptoms were disappearing. The nurse reported this to Dr. Wen who then began his research, working on rodents and later on humans. He received grants for his this from the World Health Organization and in 1972 he spoke and published his work.

The American directed a hospital-based methadone clinic for heroin addicts and was looking for an alternative to methadone. At the time a collective of gangs – The Young Lords and The Black Panthers – had been doing acupuncture on their own for some time at the clinic, buying needles in Chinatown and using them on the throngs of addicts from the ghetto neighbourhood who wanted help.

The authorities shut down the initiative of the gangs and the situation deteriorated. The young white doctor who supported the efforts of the gangs was murdered and found stuffed in a closet.

Dr. M.O. Smith

NADA Dr Michael Smith
Dr. Michael O. Smith

Dr. Michael Smith, a young doctor fresh out of psychiatric training arrived. He wanted something quick and useful for the many people afflicted to addiction through methadone at this clinic, who wanted help getting off of the drug.

Dr. Smith brought to Lincoln Hospital the electrical stimulating machine and needles Dr. Wen was using in Hong Kong and began treating heroin and methadone addicted clients in the South Bronx. Eventually the machines batteries died. This clinic was in the ghetto of the Bronx and received little funding, so replacement batteries were not attainable.

Smith, who had been studying Chinese medicine, soon realised that not using the electrical stimulation worked better. The stimulation was too intense for the yin deficient clients. Through trial and over time he added four more acupuncture points. Eventually he was able to use the protocol on his clients, all of whom were abusers of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs. He standardized the formula to make it efficient to perform and readily reproducible.

Over time ear seeds, beads, magnets, and a six-herb formula of his own – now called Sleepmix Tea – were added.

At some point articles about the South Bronx clinic began appearing in the popular press and like the ‘Lame to Lourdes’, acupuncturists, counselors, and others trudged through the litter and discarded syringes of the ghetto; leading up to the clinics front door, ignored the cacophony of dealers peddling drugs along the route, and learned this wondrous technique to bring it back to their place of employment.

NADA Organization

NADA LogoIn 1985 social workers David Eisen and Ruth Ackerman, acupuncturists Carol Taub and Patricia Culliton, and others combined forces and formed NADA, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, as a 501c3 nonprofit professional organization.

NADA is a nonprofit organization. The goal is to expand awareness of acupuncture as a valuable treatment for addiction. Including recovery, enroll members, provide reference materials, develop and update a standardized training curriculum, and develop a system for registering trainers and delivering training. Those who finish the training with the approval of their Registered Trainer receive a certificate of completion from NADA. They are then allowed to use the title Acudetox Specialist.

Today there are over 25,000 trained associates and Acudetox Specialists (ADS’s) and over 2,000 clinical sites worldwide. Of which 1,500 practitioners are in United Kingdom alone, working in 500 treatment sites including 130 prisons where guards as well as other prison staff have become ADS’s, providing treatment for prisoners.

In the United States there are 21 states where ADS’s have legally recognition to treat clients in agencies treating addiction, mental health, and post traumatic stress disorders. There are also two states where nurses may provide the NADA 5-point Acudetox protocol.

The NADA office is located at the university in Laramie, Wyoming, USA. For more on NADA see