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Some Notes on the Activities and
Credentials of Jay M. Holder, D.C.

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Jay M. Holder, D.C., operates continuing education seminars on "addictionology," a "torque-release technique," and auriculotherapy. Current ads for these courses state:

Dr. Holder is the first American to receive the Albert Schweitzer Prize in Medicine from the Albert Schweitzer-Gesellschaft. Austria. 1992 Chiropractor of the Year by The Florida Chiropractic Association, and Florida Chiropractic Society Researcher of the Year in 1995. Dr. Holder is Adjunct Professor, St. Martin's College, Milwaukee. Held appointment to the faculty at the University of Miami, Center for Addiction Studies and Education, and held appointment as postgraduate faculty, at numerous chiropractic colleges including National College, Life College, and Life West. Executive Board Member and Treasurer of the Council on Chiropractic Practice.

He is Co-Founder of Torque Release Technique, discoverer and developer of the Foundation Point System and Addiction Axis Line in Auriculotherapy, President and Co-Founder of the American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders, which trains and board certifies professionals in the field of addiction worldwide and is Director/Founder of the Exodus Treatment Center, a 350 bed addiction facility located in Miami, Florida.

At the age of 14 Dr. Holder began his experience in research in neurotoxins at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Dr. Holder is presently, investigating the efficacy of the chiropractic subluxation in addiction treatment and is expanding "The Brain Reward Cascade", a model supporting the vertebral subluxation complex. The 1993 United States Senate compared Dr. Holder's success in research to Michael Jordan's performance in basketball. Author of 2 books, edited in several others, author of many scientific papers and research studies, and inventor of medical, acupuncture and chiropractic devices, Dr. Holder lectures worldwide and is in his 24th year of practice operating two clinics located in Miami and Miami Beach, Florida [1-3].

Holder has been severely criticized for misrepresenting some of his his credentials [4]. He has a legitimate doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) degree from National College of Chiropractic, but for many years he has also claimed to have M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. Various investigators have concluded:

On November 19, 1998, the Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners decided not to renew the applications of the Holder Research Institute (HRI) and Holder's American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders (ACACD) as continuing education vendors because Holder "did not satisfactorily prove the validity of his Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy degrees." [10]. (The action did not invalidate credits for the courses already given.) Holder appealed the decision, contending that the board's action "was unlawful and based on false allegations of fact." In May 1999, the appeal was settled with a stipulated judgment in which:

An ad for Holder's 1995 "Certified Addiction Professional Program" described it as leading to a "Certified Addiction Professional ("C.A.P.") credential [12]. However, in 1995, the executive director of Florida's Board for Certified Addiction Professionals indicated that Holder was not approved to provide C.A.P. training.

A 1996 brochure for HRI's 2-day course stated: "Jay M. Holder, D.C., M.D., Ph.D. . . . is President/Co-founder of the American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders which trains and board certifies professionals in the field of addiction worldwide. . . . Dr. Holder is certified in two specialties—addictionology and pain management [13]. As far as I can tell, neither the medical nor the chiropractic profession recognizes either "addictionology" or "pain management" as specialties.

The current brochure for Holder's 150-hour addictionology program identifies him as "Jay M. Holder, D.C., C.Ad.," and states:

This program prepares you with the skills needed to become this nation's primary intervention resource in addiction intervention, treatment & management. By developing important new skills and learning the most effective up to date techniques, this program will allow the participant to gain the most significant experience available. . . . This will allow the "C.Ad." designate the opportunity to function in hospitals, residential treatment centers, outpatient programs, federal, state and county criminal justice programs, as well as meeting individual needs that may present themselves in their private practice setting. Federal funding and research grants are knocking at the door. ARE YOU PROPERLY CREDENTIALED?

The brochure notes that "individual state requirements for licensure, relicensure, and certification, may vary, therefore please check with your state board for approval verification." [1]

The addictionology course is also claimed to be "the only international multidisciplinary educational initiative that offers all healthcare and related professionals the highest level in addiction certification available." [1] Although Holder's course has been approved by some state agencies, I do not believe this description is credible. The highest level of professional recognition is certification in addiction psychiatry, a psychiatric subspecialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Nonphysician counselors can obtain certification from the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). To become a National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC), candidates must be (a) state-certified or licensed as an alcoholism or drug-abuse counselor, (b) have three years of full-time or 6,000 hours of supervised experience, and (c) pass a written examination. Holder's American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders is not listed as an approved education provider on the NAADAC Web site.

Torque Release" is a technique in which a handheld, spring-loaded mallet (The Integrator) [14] can be used to tap various points along the spine to correct "subluxations" in both adults and children. This device closely resembles the Activator adjusting instrument, which is the centerpiece of a treatment approach called Activator Methods. According to a recent article in Alternative Medicine Digest, Holder maintains that "any addicted person will have one or more vertebrae out of alignment," and that "combining chiropractic, auriculotherapy, amino acids, counseling and 12-step programs may be the groundbreaking answer to all addictions including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, eating disorders, sex and gambling." [15] One of Holder's brochures states that "a subluxation-free spine becomes mandatory for the expression of one's greatest potential." [16] Another of his documens says that the causes of subluxation include "1) Physical (trauma, thermal, electromagnetic, gravity); 2) Chemical (nutritional, toxic, mood altering); 3) Mental (perceived threats of stress, emotional); 4) Genetic." [17]

During the late 1980s, Activator Methods, Inc (AMI), accused Holder of violating its copyrights in connection with courses he conducted. In 1990, after being threatened with legal action, Holder agreed to stop distributing any written materials that contain portions of AMI's copyrighted publications or trade or service marks [18].

Auriculotherapy is a variation of acupuncture based on the notion that the body and organs are represented (in a layout resembling an inverted fetus) on the surface of the ear. Its practitioners twirl needles or administer small electrical currents at points on the ear that supposedly represent diseased organs. Holder's brochure states that auriculotherapy is useful for treating alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, work addiction, compulsive gambling, pain, and internal disorders. The evidence that any type of acupuncture can help any of these conditions is slim and consists mainly of poorly designed studies [19-21]. A well-designed study of auriculotherapy found that it failed to relieve chronic pain [22].


  1. The Eighth Annual 150-Hour Certified Addictionologist Program for all healthcare and related professionals (C.Ad.) Designation awarded upon program completion. Flyer distributed in January 2000 by the American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders, Miami Beach, Florida.
  2. The Holder Research Institute presents the Torque Release Technique. Flyer distributed in January 2000.
  3. The American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders (ACACD) presents a one day intensive seminar on auriculotherapy taught by Dr. Jay M. Holder. Flyer distributed in January 2000.
  4. Harrison DD. You decide the real truth about Jay Holder's degrees. American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic, Jan 19, 1996.
  5. Dr. Jay Holder . . . Portrait of a chiropractic leader. The Chiropractic Journal 10(2):38-39, 43, 1995.
  6. Doctor by Degree. CBS-TV "60 Minutes," March 31, 1985.
  7. Fax from Mandy Chen, convenor for A Better Medicine Education, Coopers Plains, Australia, Aug 17, 1995.
  8. Eastern Medicine in the age of technology: Acupuncture & Qigong, 27 to 30 October 1995.
  9. Loiselle M. Letter, Aug 1, 1995.
  10. Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Public minutes. November 19, 1998.
  11. Stipulated judgment dismissing petition for judicial review of order other than in contested case. In Jay M. Holder, D.C. vs. Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners, No. 99C-10928, Circuit Court for the State of Oregon for Marion County. May 28, 1999.
  12. The American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders is proud to present the first "120-hour Certified Addiction Professional": (C.A.P.). Advertisement, Florida Chiropractic News, Feb 1995.
  13. Life College presents the torque release technique. Advertisement, The Chiropractic Journal 14(4):7, 2000.
  14. Holder Jack M. Chiropractic device for removing a vertebral subluxation. U.S. Patent #5,632,765, May 25, 1997.
  15. "Chiropactic has never has a scientific model. . ." Undated solicitation for Torque Release Technique seminar.
  16. Subluxation. Holder Research Institute information sheet, ©1997, 1998.
  17. Holder JM, Fuhr AW, Fuhr AW (for Activator Methods). Agreement and consent to cease and desist. May 29, 1990.
  18. Ter Riet G and others. A meta-analysis of studies into the effect of acupuncture on addiction. British Journal of General Practice 40:379-382, 1990.
  19. Beating addiction. From bondage to freedom. Alternative Medicine Digest, Issue #29, May 1999.
  20. Ter Riet G and others. Acupuncture and chronic pain: A criteria-based meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 43:1191-1199, 1990.
  21. White AR and others. A meta-analysis of acupuncture techniques for smoking cessation. Tobacco Control 8:393-397, 1999.
  22. Melzack R, Katz J. Auriculotherapy fails to relieve chronic pain: A controlled crossover study. JAMA 251:1041-1043, 1984.

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This article was revised on February 24, 2000.