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Managing Stress Through Acupuncture: Acudetox

Apr 16, 2024Library

Managing Stress Through Acupuncture: Acudetox

Lendol Lawrence, LPC, ADS, CCTP, BSP-C

Behavioral Health Provider

As an avid fisherman and a therapist for over a decade, I have spent a considerable amount of time teaching people how to manage their stress. I like to think of stress as water rushing down a river. You can face the current head-on and fight the relentless force of the river, or you can find ways to lessen its impact on you. For example, you can stand sideways in the water, making a more narrow profile, you can wade into a section of the river where the water is flowing slower, or you can stand behind a large rock and let the rock deflect the force of the river around you. Likewise, there may be as many ways to cope with stress in life as there are boulders in a river.

But what can be done to minimize the negative effects of stress on our bodies? Some of the most common coping skills are listening to a favorite song, spending time with loved ones, playing board games as a family, cooking, breathing exercises, physical exercise, or spending time outdoors doing your favorite hobby. As a therapist, one of my favorite ways to help people with stress management is through Acudetox.

What is Acudetox?

Acudetox is an auricular (ear) acupuncture that was developed by Dr. Michael Smith in the early 1970s and was originally used as a supportive component in drug and alcohol treatment settings. Acudetox involves a simple, standardized five-point auricular acupuncture treatment. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol was developed to help with behavioral health issues such as stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety, trauma, or addiction using five points on each ear:

Sympathetic – used for relieving tension; promotes relaxation, balances sympathetic nervous system

Shen Men – used for calming and relaxation; alleviates pain, calms the mind and relieves anxiety, depression, insomnia and restlessness; increases the ability to love self and others

Kidney – stimulates hormonal functions, influences happiness and relieves fear

Liver – used to detoxify, as well as to relax and relieve anger and frustration; aids in clear thinking and decision making; relieves frustration, depression and anger

Lung – used to help respiration and detoxification; aids in the regulation of grief/sadness; improves self-respect and integrity; reminds the patient of connection with their spiritual self

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association Treatment Style

NADA–style treatment incorporates weekly Acudetox sessions and the use of ear magnets all within the context of behavioral health treatment and prevention programs. Acudetox supports the treatment and recovery process by making the patient stronger from the inside. Acudetox involves the gentle placement of five small, sterilized, disposable stainless steel needles in specific sites on each ear of a patient undergoing treatment. The treatment is a non-verbal process with minimal interactions between patient and provider. Acudetox has been shown to significantly decrease the cravings for alcohol and other drugs, withdrawal symptoms, relapse episodes, anxiety, insomnia and agitation. Acupuncture needles don’t put anything into the patient, rather they remind the patient of what he or she already has.

Benefits of Acudetox

Today Acudetox is used in hospitals and primary care clinics, jails and prisons, treatment programs, mental health facilities, military programs and homeless shelters just to name a few. Acudetox often helps participants become relaxed and more comfortable with their thoughts, enabling them to experience the sense of “letting go” of tensions and apprehensions.

Acudetox is effective regardless of the patient’s level of motivation and tends to increase the patient’s readiness to change and willingness to participate in treatment. One of the things that I find most fascinating with Acudetox is that NADA is often one of the first groups to respond worldwide to work with survivors and first responders of natural and civil disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and war refugee camps.

According to a 2013 article published in JAMA Internal Med, it is believed that 60-80% of primary care visits have stress-related components. Fortunately, American society as a whole, and Delta Health in particular, is becoming more aware of how stress impacts a person’s personal and work life.

How to seek treatment

At Delta Health we have a team of Behavioral Health Specialists trained in stress management that are happy to help people cope with stress. If you ever start to feel like you are about to be swept away by the stress in your life or if stress starts to interfere with how you want to live life, reach out to one of the Behavioral Health providers at your primary care provider’s office and we would be honored to help you get your feet firmly planted again. Learn more by visiting or by calling 970.874.7681.

If you are interested in Acudetox, it is available at the Delta Health Family Medicine Clinic. Learn more by calling 970.874.5777.

Delta Health also has a resource line that provides information to individuals seeking assistance in finding community resources for their mental health concerns. To contact Delta Health Behavioral Health Resource Line, call 970.874.6008, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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