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OPIOID CRISIS: STATE OF EMERGENCY

In 2017, drug overdoses involving heroin claimed the lives of more than 15,000 Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). This page is designed to spotlight all of the collaborative efforts of the NCCAOM and other partner associations and colleagues to bring awareness to a simple and cost-effective solution, acupuncture services, to this national epidemic.

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News & Resources

March 2021

Voices for Non-Opioid Choices

The NCCAOM is proud to again endorse S. 586/the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (The NOPAIN) Act, which would help prevent opioid addiction by expanding access to, and utilization of, non-opioid pain management approaches—such as acupuncture—for acute-pain management. The NCCAOM is a proud member of the Voices for Non-Opioid Choices Coalition, a bipartisan, national stakeholder group that seeks to prevent opioid addiction by increasing patient access to non-opioid therapies and approaches to managing acute pain.

To read the response letter, click here.

August 2020

Voices for Non-Opioid Choices

As a proud member of the Voices for Non-Opioid Choices Coalition, the NCCAOM is pleased to lend its support to the NO PAIN Act, a bill that would provide incentives for hospitals, surgical centers, and physicians to offer non-opioid and non-pharmacologic post-surgery pain-management options.  Support H.R. 5172/S. 3067 and help increase access to acupuncture services.

June 2020

NCCAOM and ASA logos.

The NCCAOM, in collaboration with the ASA leadership, responded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s request for perspectives on, and experiences with, managing acute and chronic pain, particularly as they relate to opioid use. The NCCAOM and ASA comments showcase acupuncture’s role in managing acute and chronic base, and site an evidence base for acupuncture as a viable non-pharmacologic pain-management option. The public-comment opportunity will help the CDC assess the public’s values and preferences regarding pain and pain-management strategies. Read the NCCAOM/ASA letter on the NCCAOM’s Advocacy page. Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

To read the response letter, click here.

May 2020

Voices for Non-Opioid Choices logo.

As elective medical procedures begin restart amid COVID-19, the NCCAOM joins the national effort to encourage Congress to include the H.R. 5172/S.3067, the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act in an upcoming COVID-19 relief measure. As the nation continues to fight COVID-19, we will continue to combat opioid misuse by providing practitioners and patients more non-pharmaceutical, non-opioid acute pain-management.  The NCCAOM is a proud member of the Voices for Non-Opioid Choices Coalition and its efforts to provide more non-opioid pain-management options to practitioners and patients.

To read the response letter, click here.

February 2020

AHRQ logo.

The NCCAOM®, the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA), and the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) provided a collaborative response to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Supplemental Evidence and Data Request on Treatments for Acute Pain. The joint organizational response focused  on noninvasive non-pharmacological therapy—specifically acupuncture.

To read the response letter, click here.

January 2020

CMS logo.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the historic decision to cover acupuncture for low back pain and go out of their way to include Licensed Acupuncturists as the key group of providers for acupuncture services. NCCAOM and the American Society of Acupuncturists – ASA recognize how phenomenal these actions are.

To read the response letter, click here.

December 2019

Alliance to Advanced Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management logo.

The NCCAOM is pleased to join the Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management, a multi-stakeholder collaborative comprised of people living with pain, public and private insurers, government agencies, patient and caregiver advocates, researchers, purchasers of healthcare, policy experts, and the spectrum of healthcare providers involved in the delivery of comprehensive integrative pain management. In addition to sending a delegate to the third Pain Policy Congress meeting in May 2020, NCCAOM will provide input and resources related to the shared priority to improve access to evidence-based integrative therapies, including acupuncture.

Please go to  painmanagementalliance.org  to read more about this important initiative and collaboration.

November 2019

ASA logo.

The NCCAOM advocacy team collaborated with ASA leadership to respond to AHRQ’s Noninvasive Nonpharmacological Treatments for Chronic Pain updated draft in early November 2019. The comments identified current research gaps around acupuncture efficacy and viability, especially as a tool for reducing chronic pain and opioid overuse. The comments also strongly encourage AHRQ to commission research acupuncture research to discover a stronger evidence base for acupuncture’s effects on chronic pain by initiating more specific and thorough acupuncture studies that include—and are led by—nationally certified and licensed acupuncturists. Both groups also recommend that AHRQ and its associated research bodies further explore the dangers and costs of opioids compared to acupuncture treatments, as well as comparative effectiveness research, and other trending research nuances.

Please contact the NCCAOM Advocacy Team with any questions.

October 2019

Department of Health and Human Services logo.

In October 2019, the NCCAOM Advocacy Committee responded to CMS’ request for information to develop an action plan for combatting opioid abuse and addiction. The NCCAOM’s comments advocated for increased access to acupuncture, reimbursement for acupuncture, and coverage for acupuncture services.

The comments also identified research gaps and opportunities to build the evidence base for acupuncture as a viable nonpharmacological treatment option for chronic pain, as well as for behavioral health. The NCCAOM comments specifically recommended that state Medicaid plans make acupuncture services available to beneficiaries, especially those with substance abuse challenges, citing several successful state programs that currently exist.

Please contact the NCCAOM Advocacy Team with any questions.

August 2019

Preview of the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic hosted a free public webinar.

The Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic hosted a free public webinar on opioid tapering, utilizing experts in the field who discussed current guidance for opioid tapering, how it is applied in practice, and the strength of the evidence behind it. Five panelists presented various patient case scenarios and discussed pain management challenges through patient and caregiver perspectives, in order to inform best practices and identify evidence gaps.

Please go to www.nam.edu read more about this important initiative and collaboration.

June 2019

The NCCAOM commends the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force for its final report for non-opioid, best practice options to manage acute pain and recognizing and supporting non-pharmaceutical pain management options such as acupuncture.

Please click here to read the NCCAOM letter.

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May 2019

Voices for Non-Opioid Choices logo.

The NCCAOM is pleased to join the Voices for Non-Opioid Choices coalition dedicated to increasing patient access to non-opioid therapies and approaches to managing acute pain, where addiction can start. NCCAOM will be promoting acupuncture services as non-pharmaceutical approaches to pain management and addiction.

Please go to www.nonopioidchoices.org read more about this important initiative and collaboration.

April 2019

NCCAOM theme: stones and acupuncture needles.

New researched conducted at Aurora West Allis emergency department in Milwaukee, Wisconsin finds that acupuncture administered in the emergency department (ED) is feasible and beneficial as a non-opioid, non-pharmacologic option for treating pain.  Lead author John Burns, DPT, MPT, MSOM, Dipl-Ac, Department of Integrative Medicine, Aurora Health Center, Milwaukee, told Medscape Medical News the study recorded reduction in pain up to 50%  along with up to 60% reductions of stress and anxiety. The study was also recorded as stating, “For the patients receiving acupuncture, mean pain scores significantly declined from 6.5 to 3.4 on a scale of 0 (signifying no pain) to 10 (signifying worst pain; P < .001).”

For information on the study and to read full article, click here.

March 2019

Department of Health and Human Services logo.

The NCCAOM have submitted comments on the current comments on the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force’s draft report. We appreciate the Task Force’s commitment to addressing the country’s pain and opioid crisis and look forward to helping expand the utilization of non-pharmacological treatments for pain through acupuncture. The comments submitted to HHS are available at link below:

View the NCCAOM submission to the HHS

August 2018

Evidence Based Acupuncture.

Research into acupuncture as a medical treatment has grown exponentially in the past 20 years, increasing at twice the rate of research into conventional biomedicine. Over this period, there have been over 13,000 studies conducted in 60 countries, including hundreds of meta-analyses summarizing the results of thousands of human and animal studies. A wide-variety of clinical areas have been studied, including pain and cancer, to name a few.

To view Acupuncture for Pain, click here.

To view Acupuncture for Cancer Pain, click here.

July 2018

Researchers working in a laboratory.

The NCCAOM consulted with subject matter experts and researchers to identify the most common pain conditions in the US, and collect several studies supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for each of those conditions. The team scoured documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and individual papers to come up with the 14 pain conditions listed in our online resource. A number of Diplomates were also informally surveyed for the common musculoskeletal issues they commonly treat.

For details, click here.

June 2018

Healthcare Leadership Council logo.

As a result of work by the NCCAOM Advocacy team, NCCAOM began partnering with the Healthcare Leadership Council and more than 75 other nationally recognized health care organizations to prepare a set of recommendations for policymakers to address the opioid crisis. This work, resulting in the Opioid Crisis Solutions Summit in May 2018, brought together diverse viewpoints across the health care industry to address the opioid epidemic through a series of focused, actionable recommendations covering the spectrum of care. The NCCAOM, represented by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, was the only organization representing integrative medicine at this event. The NCCAOM advocated strongly for the inclusion of evidence-based, non-pharmacological pain management therapies like acupuncture in the recommendations, and these were included in the final product, which was released on June 20. More information about the recommendations can be found here. NCCAOM Advocacy was proud to be one of the only representative voices for integrative care and looks forward to continuing to engage with the HLC and its partners and advocate for improved pain management nationwide.

The NCCAOM Advocacy Team has only just begun its work in support of the goals outlined above. Over the second half of this year, we plan to continue to provide resources for Diplomates and engage with external bodies to promote acupuncture and the profession of certified Diplomates across the country. Please feel free to reach out to NCCAOM Advocacy Team at [email protected] with any advocacy or legislative-related questions, comments, or ideas on what will be helpful for you and colleagues to thrive in the profession.

Joe Nahra, Mina Larson and Dr. Kory Ward-Cook at the HLC Opioid Crisis Summit

June 2018

NCCAOM map of Veterans Health Administration locations with acupuncture.

The Veterans Health Administration has created a qualification standard for acupuncturists to become employed practitioners at the VHA. VHA now requires NCCAOM Board-Certification as an essential part of ensuring safe and high-quality acupuncture treatment. NCCAOM has created a map reflecting the locations of VHA Medical Centers and the number of NCCAOM Board-Certified Diplomates in close proximity.

To view the map, click here.

March 2018

NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates logo.

In response to a request for stakeholder input by the Committee on Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Health, the NCCAOM submitted information on the potential for acupuncture to address the opioid crisis.

To read Comments, click here.

March 2018

Dr. Iman Majd

NCCAOM in partnership with Echo Media Group, a PR and marketing communications agency, used one of many marketing opportunities to arrange an interview between The Healthwatch and the NCCAOM Academy Chair and NCCAOM Commissioner Iman Majd, MD, MS, EAMP, Dip. ABFM, ABoIM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac. – The Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Pain and its Role in the Opioid Crisis

To listen to the interview, click here.

February 2018

NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates logo. \

In response to a request for stakeholder input from the Senate Finance Committee, the NCCAOM submitted information on the potential for acupuncture to address the opioid crisis.

To read comments, click here.

January 2018

National Governors Association logo.

The National Governor’s Association released a set of Recommendations for Federal Action to End the Nation’s Opioid Crisis (link here). These recommendations included the following: “Continue building the evidence base for non-pharmacological treatments for pain and provide guidance to state Medicaid programs regarding best practices for covering these services. Non-pharmacologic interventions for pain treatment, such as acupuncture… are important tools in the management of chronic pain.

To read recommendations, click here.

January 2018

Acupuncture Today logo.

The Acupuncture Today published an article titled “Combating Drug Addiction & The Opioid Crisis: An Analysis” by Bill Reddy, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.

To read the article, click here.

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December 2017

NCCAOM logo (old).

The Ohio Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (OAAOM) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)® commend the Ohio Department of Medicaid for including acupuncture as a covered service for low back pain and migraines into the state Medicaid program. Coverage for acupuncture services will take effect January 1, 2018.

To read the Press Release, click here.

November 2017

US News and World Report logo.

Alternative Pain Therapies Could Help Quell Opioid Crisis, but Barriers Remain.
The health care industry is evolving, thanks to policy changes, societal shifts and technological advances. Healthcare of Tomorrow from U.S. News & World Report examines the challenges facing health care, and how it must change to face the future.
To read U.S. News & World Report, click here.

October 2017

NCCAOM logo.

The NCCAOM, which has long stressed the importance of non-drug approaches to chronic pain, commends the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) for its September 18th letter encouraging healthcare providers to prioritize non-opioid pain management options over opioid prescriptions for the treatment of chronic pain.

To read the Press Release, click here.

October 2017

Integrative Health Policy Consortium logo.

The Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) applauds the Sept. 18 letter, signed by 37 State Attorneys General, from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG)…

To read the letter, click here.

September 2017

National Association of Attorneys General logo.

The NCCAOM commends the National Association of Attorneys General to the American Health Insurance Plans regarding the use of effective non-opioid pain management solutions such as acupuncture. Attorney Generals from 35 states signed this letter.

To read the letter, click here.

September 2017

NCCAOM Diplomate Bill Reddy.

The NCCAOM is also working with the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) to inform federal agencies regarding Opioid Issue. NCCAOM Diplomate Bill Reddy also published an article titled “The FDA Recommends Acupuncture: Comments From Key AOM Stakeholders” that was featured in Acupuncture Today.

To read the article, click here.

August 2017

Preview of slide detailing NCCAOM role in solving the opioid epidemic.

NCCAOM is pleased to present a white paper by the Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force comprised of Chair Bonnie Bolash, and member organizations of the Acupuncture Foundation (ANF) and The American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA). The white paper is titled “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”.

To read the white paper, click here.

July 2017

Pacific college of Oriental Medicine logo.

The opioid epidemic is top news, and with this realization, many are seeking alternative pain care such as acupuncture. Over 700 addiction centers offer acupuncture as an alternative and/or adjudicative therapy.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

To view infographic, click here.

July 2017

New Living magazine preview.

NCCAOM in partnership with Echo Media Group, a PR and marketing communications agency, used one of many marketing opportunities to publish article “Natural Solutions for The Opioid Crisis: Acupuncture Regulates Brain Opioid Receptors” by David Miller, MD, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac. in the New Living Magazine that features unique and timely articles on health and fitness focused on cutting edge research, holistic health, plant-based nutrition and herbal remedies.

To read the article, click here.

May 2017

David Miller, MD, FAAP, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.

NCCAOM in partnership with Echo Media Group, a PR and marketing communications agency, used one of many marketing opportunities to arrange an interview between Radio Health Journal and  David Miller, MD, FAAP, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac. – Alternatives to Opioids for Pain. 

To listen to the interview, click here.

September 2016

National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NIH) presentation preview.

National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NIH) Review Finds Nondrug Approaches Effective For Treatment of Common Pain Conditions

Data from a review of U.S.-based clinical trials published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggest that some of the most popular complementary health approaches—such as yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture—appear to be effective tools for helping to manage common pain conditions. The review was conducted by a group of scientists from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health.

To read full Press Release, click here.