A No-Drug Solution To The Opioid Crisis
National Institutes of Health's estimate of 2 million Americans suffering from substance use disorders related to opioid pain relievers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the first national standards for prescription painkillers. The new guidelines recommend that physicians prescribe ibuprofen, but this class of drugs also has considerable side effects. According to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the certification organization for acupuncture, there is an effective, non-drug alternative for pain that has been used for 3000 years–acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a proven effective no-drug solution to the opioid crisis. And there are studies to prove its efficacy. In September 2015, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University researchers published a study finding that repeated acupuncture treatment might reduce or eliminate the need for opioids by restoring the balance in key brain regions, and altering pain-related attention and memory. The study was published by the National Center for Biotechnology, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Furthermore, in a 2012 meta-analysis published by the American Medical Association, where acupuncture was evaluated for the treatment of chronic pain, the study concluded that “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option." The study included 17,922 patients suffering from back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches.
"Acupuncture is a viable, evidenced-based solution to our nation's opioid problem,” said Bill Reddy, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM)® and Director of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium. "And the best part is we already have an infrastructure already in place with nearly 18,000 acupuncturists that are both state-licensed and board-certified by NCCAOM®."
In fact, acupuncture may be used in lieu of pain medication and is listed as an Essential Health Benefit among benchmark health insurance plans in six states. In the remaining 44 states, acupuncture has partial or full coverage.
"Acupuncture is not only effective in reducing pain and helping to reduce our growing opioid addiction rate, today's certified acupuncturists can address many other common health concerns," said Kory Ward-Cook, PhD, MT (ASCP), CAE, CEO of the NCCAOM®. "Acupuncture also can help patients looking for relief with digestive issues, weight loss, and headaches as well as improving immune system function and overall health."