NCCAOM News - Fall 2017 (Plain Text Version)

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Promoting Acupuncture Services: Solution to the National Opioid Crisis

It is all over the news – the national opioid epidemic claims the lives of 15,000 Americans in 2015 who died from an opioid prescription. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). The addiction to opioids affects all ages from all socio-economic backgrounds, from large metropolitan cities to small towns. This epidemic has reached such monumental proportions that the President declared national state of emergency earlier this year and formed a taskforce to explore methods to alleviate this crisis. Five states to include Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia have also declared the opioid crisis as a state of emergency.

For the thousands of NCCAOM Diplomates who regularly and successfully treat patients for pain and addiction, it is frustrating to watch so many suffer and die needlessly when acupuncture treatment can be a solution to this crisis with the added bonus that it is less costly with less side effects than other therapies. Acupuncture can treat both pain as well as addiction and even provide stress relief to friends and family of the opioid addict. Bringing awareness as to the benefits of your medicine to treat pain and addiction in front of lawmakers and healthcare policy decision makers is paramount. The Joint Commission recently announced revised pain assessment and management standards and noted the benefits of acupuncture services and other integrative care for pain.  Please see NCCAOM’s Joint Commission Press Release from July. In addition, the National Association of Attorney Generals  just published a letter lauding non drug management options to include acupuncture services as an important step in combating opioid addiction – please see link to their website.

Very recently, a white paper titled “Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management” drafted by the Joint Acupuncture Opioid Taskforce was released recently. This white paper provides evidence that acupuncture services is a powerful, evidence-based, safe, cost-effective, and available treatment modality to treat opioid dependence and pain. The white paper was comprised of member organizations of the Acupuncture Foundation (ANF) and The American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA).

We are pleased to make this report available to you on the newly create Opioid Crisis page via the new Academy of Diplomates website. The NCCAOM has designed a special section of the Academy website devoted to ongoing projects to apprise our Diplomates and other stakeholders of our most recent efforts: Ongoing Projects.

The NCCAOM is also working with the Integrative Public Health Consortium (IHPC) to inform federal agencies regarding this issue. Additionally, NCCAOM is an invited participant for an upcoming Inaugural Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress which will develop a policy consensus document.  NCCAOM Diplomate William Reddy also published an article titled “The FDA Recommends Acupuncture: Comments from Key AOM Stakeholders”  in Acupuncture Today.

What can each of us do to bring additional awareness to this cause? Work with other licensed acupuncturists to inform patients, other healthcare practitioners in your community, local media and others about the benefits of acupuncture services for pain and addiction. Let them know that pain is the core of what licensed acupuncturists treat and there are many studies showing that addiction is successfully treated by acupuncture.

By continuing to spread the word, as evidenced by the above group efforts, we can advocate for greater access and more federal recognition of this remarkable medicine by providing a viable solution to a national and troubling epidemic. Finally, we look forward to hearing from you. Please submit your state and local community initiatives related to the opioid epidemic to


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