There has been an epidemic in the world of pain relief, too many people are using opioids as pain relievers and there is a danger of forming a dependency on these opioids. But what exactly are opioids? Opioids are a class of drugs often used medically to treat pain. Medications that are considered opioids are hydrocodone, methadone(meth), oxycodone, morphine, and codine.
These are highly addictive substances and when patients cannot acquire opioid prescriptions for pain, they often resort to buying opioid drugs illegally because they are much less expensive.
What are we doing about it?
Recently our Five Branches Clinic in Santa Cruz was recognized by the Central California Alliance for Health for the treatment of pain. This means that Medi-Cal patients can get help to avoid the use of opioids by receiving acupuncture treatment at our Clinic in Santa Cruz.
This project started 2-3 years ago when our President and our Clinic Manager of our Santa Cruz Campus met with the leadership of Central California Alliance for Health to do a pilot clinical trial to show the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of pain. They wished to avoid the use of opioids when patients came to them with problems of pain. As opioid pain killers are addictive, this has become such a National problem, that President Obama has taken a keen interest and many have heard him speak publicly in towns where the problem is epidemic.
“The President made clear that addressing this epidemic remains a top priority for his Administration, and has escalated the fight against the epidemic (prescription drug abuse and heroin use) on three different fronts: expanding access to treatment, preventing overdose deaths, and increasing community prevention strategies.”
Helping the Santa Cruz Community
As a result our Five Branches Santa Cruz Clinic is receiving 10-15 new patients a day from referrals. The Alliance also increased the remuneration for these treatments from $17 to $34 per patient, and increased the number of visit a patient could use. The Central California Alliance for Health thanked us for accepting Medi-Cal and serving the health needs of our low-income community for decades, even with only a $17 remuneration.
This means that our patients can get acupuncture for pain treatment instead of using opioids.
We are upgrading our systems to more easily process our new patients. Soon Five Branches will be meeting with the Alliance leadership to facilitate this for our San Jose clinic.