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Acupuncture's Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

A recent 2017 White Paper investigated acupuncture as part of a solution to the current opioid epidemic in the US. The paper is called "Acupuncture's Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management."

The document provides evidence that acupuncture is effective for managing pain. This applies to pain from numerous medical conditions including migraine headache, low back pain, neck pain, nausea resulting from chemotherapy and others. The author referenced several scientific studies in order to reach this conclusion.
There are two other important reasons to utilize acupuncture. One is the relatively low cost of the treatment, which can save money for patients and insurers. The other reason is the risk of negative side effects occurring is minimal, especially when compared with the adverse events associated with some medical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs. Acupuncture is a safe procedure when performed by a qualified practitioner.

The paper reaches the conclusion that acupuncture is appropriate and useful as an adjunct therapy to treat, and rehabilitate, those contending with an opioid addiction. The FDA recently recommended, in May of 2017, that nonpharmacologic options be explored before doctors prescribe extended-release and long-acting opioids, in an effort to reduce the problems associated with opioid dependence.

Furthermore, starting Jan. 1, 2018, hospitals will also provide nonpharmacologic options to help patients manage their pain. This mandate was set by the Joint Commission, a prominent, non-profit organization which certifies health care organizations in the US. Acupuncture meets the requirements necessary to satisfy this mandate.

Source: Abel Bolash, Bonnie M., et. al., "Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management ." The Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force, 2017, http://www.asacu.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Acupunctures-Role-in-Solving-the-Opioid-Epidemic-_Final_September_20_2017.pdf.

 

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.