Acupuncture to help solve opiate crisis
Do you or someone you know have pain that has led to a reliance upon opioid medications to get by day to day or to ease the pain enough to be able to sleep at night? This is a surprisingly common situation when chronic pain has been otherwise untreatable. Sometimes the cause of the pain cannot be tracked down by doctors or specialists, or other times the suggested solution to the pain is an invasive surgical procedure, leading people to try to endure in order to avoid going under the knife. Another common scenario is when the cause has been identified but it has been unresponsive to the recommended course of treatment. These situations can be scary, exhausting, and very frustrating. So many people who are dependent on opioid medications don’t want to be, but it has been the only thing to offer help. The relief offered does not come without consequence though. Side effects include constipation, drowsiness, nausea, and risk of addiction and associated withdrawal upon discontinuation of the medication.
There is another possible alternative, however, that many have not yet tried: acupuncture. Acupuncture can be extremely effective at alleviating pain, perhaps especially in the cases where the person has “tried everything.” In fact, the largest insurance company in Tennessee (BlueCross BlueShield) has taken drastic measures in addressing pain and the prevalence of opioid dependence by now covering acupuncture as a benefit while simultaneously discontinuing and strictly limiting opioid prescription coverage.1 Furthermore, in an effort to mitigate the growing concern of opioid dependence and the prevalence of pain syndromes in our veteran population, the Veterans Health Administration added acupuncture coverage in the Veteran's Medical Benefits Package as of February, 2018.2 Acupuncture is one of the top requested complementary healthcare modalities requested by veterans, and it is now being offered at VA centers across the nation.
If you or someone you know is tired of getting by with the need for opioids, it’s definitely worth a try. Many insurance plans in Oregon and beyond are now covering acupuncture treatments as a benefit, especially in situations where the condition of concern is some type of pain. It’s amazing what can happen, especially in the cases of “I’ve tried everything.”
1 https://dailymemphian.com/article/2059/BlueCross-removes-Oxycontin-adds-acupuncture- amid-opioid-crisis