Acudetox – What is Ear Acupuncture acu-detox?



Acu Detox (Acupuncture Detoxification) has now gained popularity in effectively helping clients with symptoms from detoxification of addictive substances such as alcohol, caffeine, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, nicotine, and addictive behaviors such as gambling. The treatment amazingly is not substance specific.



It has been shown to be clinically effective, cost efficient, drug free and compatible across cultures. A treatment service can be established with ease within prisons, and drugs and alcohol treatment settings.


Other professionals

The acudetox protocol has been shown to be most effective, when its used in combination with other professional treatment interventions, such as substance misuse workers, councelling, CBT, etc. The combined use of acupuncture with these services enhances intervention effectiveness, and better therapeutic outcomes.



A trained Acu-Detox practitioner will insert fine gauge, (0.22mm) sterilie, single use ‘filiform’ (solid) stainless steel needles just under the skin in five specific points in each ear. The locations of the 5 points is a protocol that was developed in the South Bronx’s Lincoln Recovery Centre USA, in 1974, comonly known as the NADA protocol, or Acudetox protocol.


Treatment time

Clients will have needles in place for a typical treatment session usually for 30-45 minutes, and they usually receive treatment while seated in a group. Clients may not move around the room with needles and must not be left alone at any time.



In 2011, the Microsystems Acupuncture profession, incorporating Ear Acupuncture, was registered as a single profession under the CNHC, which now is a voluntary register under the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). Practitoners who wish to register with the CNHC will be eligable to do so if they meet all of the standards set.


Educational standards

The course we provide is mapped to the Standards of Education and Training, agreed by the 12 stakeholder groups in the MACRWG, as the minimum educational standards, and codes of conduct performance and ethics for Microsystems Acupuncture practitoners.


National Ocupational Standards

The course is also mapped to the Skills for Healths National Occupational Standards for Microsystems acupuncture.


Effects of treatments

There are a number of effects which have researched and have been anecdoally reported.

  • Helps assists endorphin production.
  • Client can experience relief from cravings and withdrawl symptoms whcih are not drug induced.
  • Clients gain an increased sense of well being.
  • Useful in early treatment intervention when client may not be receptive to other forms of interventions.
  • Client benefits from being in a peer support group.
  • Clients sit quietly, safely and benefits in a group setting.
  • Client afterwards is calmer and more focused for participation in a counselling / talking process.
  • Can be run as a low threshold access intervention so facilitate re-entry for relapses.
  • Speedy intervention, inexpensive and does not require a classical medical setting.
  • Very cost effective.
  • Fits well into existing treatment facilities, only needs a convenient space.
  • Barrier free, including language. No waiting lists and possible client loss.
  • Reduction in cravings.
  • Effects are not substance specific.
  • Reduction in drug use
  • improved sleep patterns
  • a non verbal treatment
  • helps client develop trust in the treatment process and the therapist.
  • reduction in anxiety
  • reduction in signs and symptoms of high stress levels.
  • Relief is not 100% and can be supported by medication.


  • Addicted patients are frequently depleted and exhausted, this is expresses as low energy, fatigue, poor digestion, low appetite, and can include sexual dysfunction and joint ache.
  • Hard core substance abusers are very surprised to discover that these symptoms will improve and will also improve their motivation.


  • Clients can be engaged in treatment before a full nedical assessment and diagnosis have been undertaken.
  • are completed so that clients can be calm and co-operative enough for a useful diagnosis to be made.
  • Confrontation about drug use is not necessary because a client can be helped even while they are in denial about the need for treatment.
  • Developing trust between the therapist and client is much easier.


There are two components to acupuncture treatment.

  • 2. Very anxious clients usually fall asleep during acupuncture treatment.
  • 3. Tired, apathetic clients report an increased sense of vitality during and immediately after treatment.
  • 4. Most clients experience a relaxing and centring feeling.
  • 5. As the number of treatment sessions increases, the client will feel relatively harmonious most of the time.
  • 6. Hence, experienced, successful clients will no longer fall asleep during sessions. The client will also not need to have acupuncture as frequently to gain the same effect.
  • 7. An outside observer might believe that acupuncture is less effective when the client no longer falls asleep in the session. It is important to understand that just the opposite is the case. Acupuncture treatments become more effective as time passes. The phenomenon of tolerance which is so typical in pharmaceutical medicine is not present with acupuncture.
  • 8. The actual ‘message’ component of an acupuncture treatment often has a delayed onset of several hours.
  • 9. As the client becomes more balanced and receptive, this message become more effective over a longer period of time.


Resources that informed this

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