Acupuncture's Role in the Opioid Crisis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kelly Hora/President of Wisconsin Society of Certified Acupuncturists (WISCA), 608-335-7311 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: http://www.asacu.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Acupunctures-Role-in-Solving-the-Opioid-Epidemic-_Final_September_20_2 017.pdf