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Can Acupuncture Reduce Opioid Use? Vermont Funds Medicaid Study

BBC World Service/via Flickr

Vermont has already invested significant time and money in combating the opioid addiction, from special drug courts to laws regulating prescription monitoring. Now the state is considering a new tool in its arsenal: acupuncture. 

The idea isn't to use acupuncture to treat addiction — though that's not unheard of — but instead to investigate if acupuncture could be useful in treating chronic pain, as a way to avoid or reduce reliance on opioid medicines.  

The same billlast year that created the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System also allocated $200,000 to fund a study to see if making acupuncture accessibly to Medicaid patients is feasible — and useful.

"The Legislature, in learning about this opioid problem, said, 'Hey, why aren't these things more accessible to people?' And one of the reasons is very few insurances in Vermont cover acupuncture," says Robert Davis, who has been an acupuncturist for 17 years and is running this study.

As acupuncture is increasingly considered a viable option for pain relief, Vermont legislators want to explore how it could impact the lives of others — particularly those living below the poverty line.

Read more about the study at Vermont Public Radio.