Rise In Acupuncture Treatments Try to Alleviate Opioid Use

Rise In Acupuncture Treatments Try to Alleviate Opioid Use

Due to an overwhelming opioid crisis throughout the nation, people are looking for answers. There are many like Marine veteran Jeff Harris who simply do not want to take prescription painkillers. Harris was among one of the first to sign up when the Providence, Rhode Island VA hospital started offering acupuncture for chronic pain.

“I don’t like taking pain medication. I don’t like the way it makes me feel,” he said. Harris also didn’t want to risk getting addicted to heavy-duty prescription painkillers, as many do. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly 11.5 million Americans from the ages 12 and up misused prescription pain medicine in 2016 alone.

For this reason, Americans are now using acupuncture more than ever before. According to government surveys, one in 67 United States adults say they get acupuncture treatment every year. This number is up from the last decade, where it sat at one in 91 adults. Even though insurance only covers about a quart of the costs, the numbers are still rising.

Emmeline Edwards from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is a federal research agency, says that the military recognizes the need for new pain management methods. Her agency is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to spend $81 million on research projects. The agency aims to study the effectiveness of many other treatments for pain that do not rely on the use of drugs.

Insurance companies are starting to recognize this apparent issue, and coverage is now starting to expand. California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island pay for acupuncture through their Medicaid insurance programs, as long as the treatment is for pain. Massachusetts and Oregon also cover acupuncture as a treatment for substance abuse. Although some scientist question the effectiveness of acupuncture, many are desperate for another solution that does not involve addictive painkillers because they are afraid of the current opioid crisis and becoming another statistic.

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