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Acupuncture could play a significant role in combating the opioid epidemic that is raging in the USA, according to a white paper by authors from acupuncture organisations including the American Society of Acupuncturists, the Acupuncture Now Foundation and the Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force. Official figures show that opioid overdose kills 91 Americans every day and more than half of these deaths involve prescription opioids. The 21-page white paper was published a week after the US National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) wrote to health insurance companies asking them to review their payment policies in order to promote alternatives to opioids including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage and chiropractic. Acupuncture is recommended as a powerful, evidence-based modality that can be employed as a first-line, non-pharmacologic method for pain relief and management. The authors explain how acupuncture can safely, easily and cost-effectively be incorporated into diverse medical settings, resulting in dramatically decreased healthcare expenditure, both by treating acute pain and avoiding addiction to opioids that requires costly care, destroys quality of life and can lead to fatal overdose. They cite studies outlining the use of acupuncture by the US Military and Veterans Administration to successfully decrease the volume of opioids prescribed.

Acupuncture's Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management-White Paper 2017. J Integr Med. 2017 Nov;15(6):411-425.

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