Uniformed Services

Dealing with depressive disorders – Setting up of Peer counseling and ear acupuncture based alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services in Border Security Force Punjab, Kolkatta,Tripura and Gujarat Frontier.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders found in the general community and in the workplace. Depression is characterized by sadness, fatigue, a loss of interest in most activities, and lack of energy. Other features, such as insomnia or hypersomnia, loss or gain of appetite, a tendency to blame oneself, and difficulty concentrating are often present. In its most serious forms, it can lead to suicidal thoughts and eventually to suicide (World Health Organization, 2001). Depression can be difficult to diagnose and can manifest as physical symptoms, such as headache, back pain, stomach problems, or angina.

The workshops with BSF personnel were intended to relate to the depression created due to work stress and stigma by branding of alcohol users. The peer group counselors were trained in the workshop to deal comprehensively with the issue through ear Acupuncture – a technique to relax for depression syndrome. Acupuncture is taught and practiced in many different ways throughout the world, including a number of protocol-based approaches. Developed in response to particular pressing needs, rather than relying on the complex system of differential diagnosis, these models use a simplified protocol approach. The most widespread and successful example, developed by the NADA International, employs Acupuncture Detox Specialists (ADS). In this program substance-abuse Physicians, Nurses, Naturopaths and counselors are trained in a simple ear acupuncture protocol, which they administer throughout the entire treatment continuum: acute withdrawal, the maintenance period, and the extended relapse-prevention phase. This protocol is shown to be effective in reducing the distressing physiologic and psychological symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal in addition to decreasing recidivism.


NADA Alcohol treatment protocol

The NADA treatment protocol can be summarized and defined as follows:

  • Clinicians use three, ear acupuncture points – including sympathetic, Shenmen, and lung.
  • Treatment is provided in a group setting for duration of 40-50 minutes.
  • Ear Acupuncture treatment emphasis is on Alcoholic Anonymous and other 12- Step activities early in the treatment process. It is very important to realize that ear acupuncture is only one component of substance (Alcohol) abuse treatment. The value of acupuncture lies partly in the relief of withdrawal symptoms, but the more critical goal is to prepare the client to participate effectively in all phases of before treatment (counseling center level), detoxification, and rehabilitation and after care.

This component aimed to demonstrate feasibility in training medical professionals and staff of BSF to perform basic acupuncture techniques to address the signs and symptoms of those suffering from tobacco, alcohol and drugs addiction as well as to provide relief from stress and general wellbeing. The Nada India trained the medical staff/ physician in each Sector. The sessions and practical demonstrations were conducted by NADA trainers Dr.Ajay Vats and Dr.Roop Sidana Psychiatrist from Sri Ganga Nager Rajasthan .

All the successful trainees were also awarded a certificate from National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). They were also provided with literature and ear acupuncture needles for practice and use.
A workshop was organized by Nada India Foundation at BSF Gujarat Frontier Headquarters, Gandhinagar on 29 January 2011.

Before workshop began Dr. Michael O. Smith visionary and founder of NADA International and Suneel Vatsyayan Chairman of Nada India met with paramedics and nursing assistants. They said there were about 500 families living at that base. On asking what main complaints patients were presenting with, sleeplessness, headaches, cold and cough etc were the common presenting complaints. Sh.Suneel then explained to them how this ear detoxification acupuncture works. That it was not for curative purpose but as preventive and preparing patient for further treatment. Both Dr. Smith and Suneel also answered their questions.

After this addressing about 200 Jawan (Constables) and their families including Inspector General of Gujarat Frontier shri A.N.Sinha IPS with his wife and other senior officials , Shri Suneelji said this 3 point ear acupuncture protocol was developed by Dr. Smith. It is not an alternative to other treatments but, it is to prepare the patient for whatever treatment he/she requires. It facilitates persons self realization and self knowledge.

Dr. Smith also briefly addressed and said when we all face challenges in life we all feel stress. This Acupuncture treatment he said would balance the mind and body. It is not only people who go to borders but their families also feel lot of stress. With balance mind we can face the challenges easier. This is also called the wellness therapy.

After this treatment on voluntary bases, whoever wanted raised their hand and Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists (ADS) provided the treatment. At the same time each ADS provided training to 7 paramedics and nursing assistant staff of the base hospital under the supervision of Dr. Smith. Gradually almost all present at the workshop around 200 persons including DIG & IG and received the treatment.

Shri Suneel then asked all participants for their feedback, again on voluntary bases. Most felt relaxed, some slept through the treatment, some felt pain in one point which went away after some time during the treatment, one person felt heat around the ear, and one felt like he had 1 peg of drink and all laughed. DIG also shared his experience that he felt calm and relaxed. Some inquired how frequently they could have it and some wanted to know how it worked.

Mr.Suneel and Dr. Smith answered their questions. Dr. Smith said that works on energy level, on one knows perfectly though there are many theories. He said it is better to keep it simple, by making it complicated it also become less accessible. He has seen it work and that fact that it works is more important.

The paramedics and nursing assistants were also given acupuncture. They were very enthusiastic about providing this treatment. Mr.Suneel discussed with them technicality.

Arrangement was made so that under doctors (Dr.Chowdhary) supervision they could provide this acupuncture treatment to patients requesting it. Nada India provides two thousand needles for further use and practice. Nada volunteers joined in the BSF workshop are as follows Ms.Manjula Patel. Ms.Kala Ben Patel. Mahesh Patel. Balchandra Soni. Neeta Patel. Ruchita Raval. Hiral Gopani Ms.Hasu Ben and Dr.Nayana Shah. The trainees were also provided with pre sterilized disposable needles for futher use and practice.

Watch a short movie on the project