The White House just declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, and that means all eyes are on opioids and what strategies we can use to fight this national health crisis that killed more than 15,000 Americans in 2015 alone. Dozens of states are already looking into the overprescription of opioids, and a multistate investigation is demanding information from the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs in an attempt to determine whether the companies were engaged in any unlawful practices in the marketing and distribution of these drugs. But what role does integrative medicine—and modalities like acupuncture, massage, and yoga—play in the fight against opioids?
Well, the simple truth is that pain management doesn’t have to begin with prescription drugs. In fact, there are many holistic and integrative approaches to pain management that can prevent and relieve pain without the use of opioids. Here are five that I've seen work in my practice and that have some solid science to back them up: