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  • Kelly Hora, MAc MS Bluestem Acupuncture, LLC

Acupuncture's Role in the Opioid Crisis


CONTACT:​ ​Kelly​ ​Hora/President​ ​of​ ​Wisconsin​ ​Society​ ​of​ ​Certified​ ​Acupuncturists​ ​(WISCA)​, 608-335-7311​ ​​​​

The​ ​United​ ​States​ ​is​ ​facing​ ​a​ ​national​ ​opioid​ ​epidemic,​ ​and​ ​health​ ​care​ ​is​ ​in​ ​need​ ​of​ ​non-pharmaceutical approaches​ ​to​ ​decrease​ ​the​ ​public’s​ ​opioid​ ​dependence.​ ​​ ​The​ ​National​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​Attorneys​ ​General (NAAG)​ ​appealed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​CEO​ ​of​ ​America’s​ ​Health​ ​Insurance​ ​Plans​ ​(AHIP)​ ​to​ ​revise​ ​their​ ​payment​ ​and coverage​ ​policies​ ​to​ ​encourage​ ​providers​ ​to​ ​prioritize​ ​non-opioid​ ​treatment​ ​options​ ​for​ ​chronic, non-cancer​ ​pain.​ ​​ ​NAAG​ ​wrote​ ​the​ ​following​ ​in​ ​their​ ​September​ ​18,​ ​2017​ ​letter​ ​to​ ​AHIP:​ ​“When​ ​patients seek​ ​treatment​ ​for​ ​the​ ​myriad​ ​conditions​ ​that​ ​cause​ ​chronic​ ​pain,​ ​doctors​ ​should​ ​be​ ​encouraged​ ​to​ ​explore and​ ​prescribe​ ​effective​ ​non-opioid​ ​alternatives,​ ​ranging​ ​from​ ​non-opioid​ ​medications​ ​(such​ ​as​ ​NSAIDs) to​ ​physical​ ​therapy,​ ​acupuncture,​ ​massage,​ ​and​ ​chiropractic​ ​care.”​ ​​ ​Numerous​ ​federal​ ​regulatory​ ​agencies have​ ​already​ ​advised​ ​or​ ​mandated​ ​that​ ​healthcare​ ​systems​ ​and​ ​providers​ ​offer​ ​non-pharmacologic treatment​ ​options.

To​ ​resolve​ ​pain,​ ​acupuncture​ ​is​ ​a​ ​powerful,​ ​evidence-based​ ​treatment​ ​approach.​ ​​ ​Acupuncture​ ​has​ ​been shown​ ​to​ ​be​ ​effective​ ​for​ ​the​ ​management​ ​of​ ​numerous​ ​types​ ​of​ ​pain​ ​and​ ​the​ ​mechanisms​ ​of​ ​action​ ​for acupuncture​ ​have​ ​been​ ​described​ ​from​ ​biomedical​ ​and​ ​imaging​ ​clinical​ ​studies.​ ​​ ​In​ ​addition, acupuncture’s​ ​cost-effectiveness,​ ​with​ ​its​ ​emphasis​ ​on​ ​preventative​ ​care,​ ​could​ ​dramatically​ ​decrease health​ ​care​ ​expenditures​ ​in​ ​the​ ​long​ ​term,​ ​by​ ​avoiding​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​opioid​ ​addiction​ ​and​ ​related problems​ ​that​ ​require​ ​expensive​ ​interventions.​ ​​ ​ Acupuncture​ ​can​ ​be​ ​incorporated​ ​into​ ​clinical​ ​healthcare and​ ​hospital​ ​facilities​ ​to​ ​address​ ​sports​ ​injuries​ ​or​ ​to​ ​treat​ ​pain​ ​in​ ​childbirth,​ ​for​ ​example.​ ​​ ​Acupuncture​ ​is already​ ​being​ ​successfully​ ​and​ ​meaningfully​ ​utilized​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Veterans​ ​Administration​ ​and​ ​various branches​ ​of​ ​the​ ​U.S.​ ​Military.​ ​​ ​To​ ​help​ ​individuals​ ​overcome​ ​addiction,​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Acupuncture Detoxification​ ​Association​ ​(NADA)​ ​ear​ ​acupuncture​ ​protocol​ ​has​ ​been​ ​used​ ​in​ ​multiple​ ​detox​ ​settings​ ​for decades.​ ​ It​ ​relieves​ ​withdrawal​ ​symptoms​ ​during​ ​detoxification,​ ​prevents​ ​relapse​ ​and​ ​support​ ​long-term recovery.​ ​​ ​Practitioners​ ​of​ ​East​ ​Asian​ ​medicine​ ​can​ ​provide​ ​many​ ​services​ ​using​ ​different​ ​modalities​ ​to alleviate​ ​medical​ ​problems​ ​related​ ​to​ ​the​ ​opioid​ ​epidemic.

NOTE:​ ​​ ​​The​ ​NAAG​ ​letter​ ​was​ ​authored​ ​and​ ​signed​ ​by​ ​37​ ​state​ ​AGs,​ ​including​ ​Brad​ ​Schimel​ ​of​ ​Wisconsin.​ ​A​ ​​link to​ ​the​ ​White​ ​Paper,​ ​which​ ​provides​ ​more​ ​detail​ ​about​ ​the​ ​role​ ​of​ ​Asian​ ​medicine​ ​in​ ​preventative​ ​care​ ​and pain​ ​management​ ​published​ ​by​ ​the​ ​American​ ​Society​ ​of​ ​Acupuncturists​ ​(ASA),​ ​is​ ​as​ ​follows: 017.pdf

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