Acupuncture & the Opioid Epidemic

/Acupuncture & the Opioid Epidemic

Acupuncture & the Opioid Epidemic

The use and abuse of prescription pain medications is now responsible for an astonishing 44 deaths per day in America, surpassing auto accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in American adults. Despite this fact, sales of opioid medications keep rising as do the number of prescriptions each year.

At the same time, the use of acupuncture has dramatically increased over the last 20 years, with more patients than ever using acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for both acute and chronic pain conditions.



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In 2017, The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, updated its Pain Management Standard to include acupuncture as an effective non-pharmacological strategy for managing pain. Effective January 1, 2018, Joint Commission accredited hospitals will be required to provide non-pharmacological pain modalities, including acupuncture as one option, by licensed independent practitioners (//www.nccaom.org/blog/2017/07/12/joint-commission-assessment/).

Rebecca Berkson, L.Ac, Dip.OM, as part of the Kaplan Center’s freely offered Community Health Lecture Series, discussed how acupuncture can reduce – or even eliminate – the need for opioids and non-opioid drugs by:

  • Stimulating the production of the body’s own “endogenous opioids”;
  • Stimulating the production of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory compounds;
  • Facilitating the body’s own natural chemistry creating the potential for similar – or sometimes better – benefits than synthetic drugs, without the risks of addiction or side effects.

Part I (above): A Public Health Crisis: Defining Opioids, Statistics & Current Events

Part II: Role of Acupuncture in Pain Relief and Addiction Treatment

  • Opioid Side Effects
  • Patient Quality of Life

Part III: A Case Study in Acupuncture: Weaning off Opioids for Chronic Pain Relief

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Rebecca Berkson, L.Ac, Dipl.OM
Rebecca Berkson L.Ac, Dipl.OM. is a licensed acupuncturist and is NCCAOM Board certified in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Her training includes traditional Chinese medicine coupled with anatomy and clinical sciences to provide the safest and most effective care to patients. Rebecca has also studied with teachers in different practices of acupuncture including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Five Element, and various styles of Japanese acupuncture. To read Rebecca's complete bio, click here.