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Acupuncture: A Solution to the Opioid Crisis?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Jacksonville, FL -- According to the National Institutes of Health, it is estimated 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. Forty-six Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses--that's two deaths an hour; and this critical national health issue is on the rise. But, according to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, instead of using an addictive prescription drug, pain can effectively be treated using acupuncture.

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Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University researchers published a study (September 2015) finding that repeated acupuncture treatment might reduce or eliminate the need for opioids by restoring the balance in key brain regions, 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.

"Both NIH and the World Health Organization support acupuncture in the treatment for pain based on randomized controlled trials," says Bill Reddy, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM)® and Director, Integrative Health Policy Consortium, Pinecrest Wellness Center, Annandale, VA.  "Acupuncture is a viable, evidenced-based solution to our nation's opioid problem with an infrastructure already in place with nearly 17,000 acupuncturists that are both state-licensed and board-certified by NCCAOM® across the nation."

A 2012 meta-analysis published by the American Medical Association evaluated acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain involving a total of 17,922 patients suffering from back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches.  The conclusion of the study is that, "Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option." 

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.

"While acupuncture can reduce pain and may help reduce the growing opioid addiction rate, today's nationally board-certified acupuncturists can address many health concerns including digestive issues, weight loss, headaches as well as improving immune system function and overall health," says Kory Ward-Cook, PhD, MT(ASCP), CAE, CEO of the NCCAOM®.

In existence for more than 3,000 years, acupuncture and Oriental medicine's holistic approach can be leveraged not only to treat moderate to severe pain traditionally treated with opioids, but also to maintain health and well-being.

To find a nationally board-certified NCCAOM acupuncturist or Oriental medicine practitioner in your area, go to www.nccaom.org .

About the NCCAOM

With a mission to ensure the safety and well-being of the public, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is a nonprofit organization that advances acupuncture and Oriental medicine by establishing and promoting evidence-based standards of competence and credentialing.

Founded in 1982, NCCAOM certification indicates that a practitioner has met national standards for the safe and competent practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Since its inception, the NCCAOM has certified more than 24,000 Diplomates in acupuncture, Chinese herbology, Asian bodywork therapy, and Oriental medicine in America.

For more information about NCCAOM, visit www.nccaom.org.

Media Contact: Mina Larson, NCCAOM, (703) 314-2908, [email protected]

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SOURCE NCCAOM

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