Opioids: ACA Is a Trusted Resource in Advocacy Circles for Information on Non-drug Approaches

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has long been a partner in the fight against opioid misuse by promoting and encouraging the utilization of safe, effective and proven non-drug approaches to pain management, such as chiropractic care. In 2016, the ACA House of Delegates (HOD) adopted a formal policy statement that supports, among other solutions: Public health campaigns to raise awareness of drug-free approaches to pain management, increased access to non-drug therapies such as chiropractic for all Americans, and the promotion of evidence-based research, therapies and best practices for non-drug pain management.

Recently, ACA has partnered with national coalitions to promote chiropractic care as a viable, widely available and effective tool to the millions of Americans who experience chronic and acute pain each year.  Further, ACA legislative priorities such as H.R. 3654the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019, have been recognized as established and important policy solutions that should be utilized to combat opioid misuse and over-prescription.  Because of this collaboration, the ACA government relations team is becoming a well-known source of information and policy expertise on alternative approaches to pain management for other stakeholders, organizations, patient-advocates, policymakers and congressional staff. ACA government relations staff have attended meetings with members of Congress and spoken about the importance of chiropractic care, especially in treating low back and neck pain.  The reception from members of Congress and their staff has been overwhelmingly positive – it is an exciting time to advocate on behalf of ACA members and their patients!

Late last year, ACA attended the National Summit on Acute Pain Management, hosted by the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management (AfBPM). The summit, held in Washington D.C., explored current approaches to pain management during the opioid crisis and the importance of the event was underscored by the AfBPM, which stated, “[I]f policymakers want to tackle America’s pain problem, they should begin by embracing individualized, patient-centered, care.” ACA Government Relations staff joined other stakeholders, providers, clinicians, patients, researchers and policymakers for the day-long collaborative discussion.

In December, ACA attended and participated as a panelist in the Solutions Summit: Policies to Address Acute Pain and Opioid Addiction in America. Convened by the Voices for Non-Opioid Choices coalition, the summit sought to raise awareness of evidence-based non-opioid approaches to acute pain management. ACA was invited to speak to meeting delegates about chiropractic care and H.R. 3654.  Organizers will compile presentations, comments and discussions held during the summit into a white paper with policy solutions for policymakers.  ACA spoke about the critical importance of chiropractic care, especially for those who either cannot, or chose not, to take prescription pain medication, and the need for increased coverage of conservative therapies to utilize non-opioid approaches to pain management. ACA also presented research that supports the need for chiropractic care in stemming the ongoing opioid crisis.

ACA remains an involved participant in the national discussion on opioid misuse and substance use disorder, and events like these are important to ensure that the chiropractic profession is represented and that ACA members have a seat at the table. ACA has been a partner in combatting the opioid crisis for years, promoting conservative, drug-free and proven therapies to manage pain and advocating on behalf of patients who deserve choice in their healthcare options.

Meghan O’Brien is ACA’s associate director of federal government relations.