WVPA Sharing

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine helps Beckley clinic aid patients in opioid recovery through acupuncture technique

WV Press Release Sharing

LEWISBURG, W.Va. – Patients in recovery from opioid use disorder have an additional
treatment option at a Beckley, W.Va., clinic, as a result of training provided at the West
Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM).

The school’s Center for Rural and Community Health (CRCH) is sponsoring the use of the
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol at Revive Healthcare,
a medication-assisted treatment clinic based at Beckley Area Medical Clinic.

The NADA protocol is a form of acupuncture in which small needles are placed into five
pressure points on the exterior of the ear. The technique is used alongside other
treatments to reduce cravings for opioids and minimize withdrawal symptoms. It can
also be beneficial in easing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and improving
sleep, among other uses.

Samantha Lidel, a behavioral health therapist with Revive Healthcare, received training
in administering the NADA protocol in 2019 during an educational session at WVSOM.
She was subsequently certified by the national organization and the West Virginia Board
of Acupuncture. Lidel said that since she began offering the NADA protocol in May,
patients in recovery have shown increased compliance with attendance and treatment.

Samantha Lidel, a behavioral health therapist at the clinic, practices the NADA protocol as part of her certification process. WVSOM courtsey photo.

“Historically, many of our patients just come in when it’s convenient for them,” she said.
“But since I’ve been offering NADA, I’ve seen that more of them are showing up for
appointments, and they’re noticing the benefits. Some of them are having fewer drug
cravings or have cut back on smoking cigarettes, and they’re having less anxiety, less
stress, less depression. Auricular acupuncture is helping our patients make real progress
in their recovery.”

Lidel has provided the protocol to 285 patients from nine West Virginia counties as of
mid-August. She pointed out that it’s vital for behavioral health professionals to have a
variety of methods to choose from in helping patients battle opioid use disorder.

“West Virginia has been one of the states hardest hit by the opioid
epidemic, and we need deployable solutions to help our population,” Lidel
said. “My goal is to offer a technique that people may have never thought
about for individuals where medication is not enough. It’s just an extra tool to use.”

She emphasized that the use of the NADA protocol is voluntary on behalf of patients
and that it’s performed in conjunction with talk therapy.

“Some patients use NADA in every appointment because it makes them feel relaxed and
calm. Some people struggle with talking about past trauma or relapse — they can be
hard subjects — and the acupuncture relaxes them enough to feel comfortable to open
up about these issues,” Lidel said.

Auricular therapies have existed for thousands of years. In modern times, clinical trials
dating to 1958 have shown the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture. The NADA
protocol was developed in the 1970s, and currently more than 25,000 people have been
trained in the technique worldwide, according to the National Acupuncture
Detoxification Association.

WVSOM is sponsoring the use of the protocol using funds from the State Opioid
Response Grant through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’
Bureau for Behavioral Health. Jenna Hinkle, director of education for WVSOM’s CRCH,
coordinates the grant for the school and said she is pleased that the response to the
treatment has been positive.

“Samantha’s work has been extremely well received, and participants are loving it.
Some of them are actually calling in and wanting to come more often,” Hinkle said.
She said she ultimately would like to see the protocol used beyond therapeutic settings,
allowing it to benefit as many people as possible.

“Our goal remains to continue establishing partnerships and locations to offer this
protocol to the recovery community,” Hinkle said. “We would love to have the same
thing offered in a community setting so that anybody recovering from opioid use
disorder can receive this treatment even if they’re not patients at a specific clinic.”

Deborah Schmidt, D.O., a WVSOM faculty member who helped bring NADA protocol
training to southern West Virginia and who oversaw the session in which Lidel was
trained, praised Lidel’s incorporation of the technique into patients’ treatments.
“I’m thrilled that Samantha has been able to put the training provided to her through
the State Opioid Response Grant to good use in augmenting the care her patients
receive. Hopefully, other frontline workers in recovery programs will be trained in this simple yet effective protocol so that we can help patients handle the stress of their daily lives during recovery. Everyone could use some stress reduction,” Schmidt said.

— WVSOM is a national leader in educating osteopathic physicians for primary care
medicine in rural areas. Visit WVSOM online at www.wvsom.edu.