Acupuncture, Opiates and Pain Relief

Opiate addiction has been in the news lately and is again begging our attention as a nation. Opiates are used in attempts to relieve  moderate to severe pain. Opiates have been used for many years, usually prescribed for people with long-term, severe pain and a terminal illness, such as cancer. More recently, they have been used for non-malignant chronic pain. Some medical practitioners and lay people have concerns about the increased usage of opiates due to their highly addictive nature.

Many major pain clinics now use acupuncture as a treatment for chronic and severe pain. As I hear of the struggles of opiate addiction, including suicide, I get very sad knowing that acupuncture could have helped so many people reduce pain before they were prescribed opiates as an option. Of course acupuncture will not work for all people, but as a practitioner, I have been amazed at the wide breadth of people that it does help. Patients that find no relief with pain killers and have had intense pain to the point of debilitation have regained their lives through the use of acupuncture. It deeply saddens me that more people are not given the opportunity or access to try acupuncture.

Currently, our medical system offers acupuncture for people in health crisis. We see acupuncture offered in cancer units, pain clinics and detox clinics. I am so happy to see that the medical community appreciates how acupuncture can help these patients in medical emergencies. My question is why wait for a medical emergency to share a gentle medicine that offers great benefit with no side effect? Why not prescribe acupuncture for people with mild conditions? Acupuncture does not interfere with any medical treatments or prescription drugs. Most people enjoy acupuncture treatments, feeling a great deal of stress relief and peace of mind.

Acupuncture should also be used as a preventative medicine. While acupuncture may have been looked at as financially out of reach for many people, Community Acupuncture now offers affordable acupuncture with treatments costing $20 to $40. Because acupuncture can be affordably offered and has no side effects, our medical community should see acupuncture as a first line of care. Most pain conditions begin to show relief after five treatments if not before. If acupuncture is not helpful within this treatment period, it may be time to try something else that has side effects, costs more money, and has ramifications for the long term health of individuals and our planet.

Let’s start with the gentlest solutions first. If they don’t work, let’s move on to more aggressive treatments. By offering the gentlest treatments first, we have the opportunity to reduce the chances of opiate addiction, avoid negative impacts on people’s health and the health of planet and most likely save our healthcare system a lot of money.

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