Acupuncture and Opioids:

Patients in America suffer from chronic and acute pain in record numbers. Many were prescribed opioids to help manage their pain. As medical providers, patients, and as a country we are now facing the consequences of over-reliance on opioid medications. Addiction is an unfortunately common side effect of opioid use. We know now that the side effects of long term opioid abuse are tragic and often lead to death or serious health complications. In addition, the abuse of opioid medication, either due to addiction or unmindful prescribing, has an economic toll as well.

A study published in the journal Pain Medicine in 2011 estimated that health-care costs related to prescription opioid abuse amounted to twenty-five billion dollars, and criminal-justice-system costs to $5.1 billion.[1]

Probably the most tragic part of the opioid epidemic is: It doesn’t have to be this way! NMSAAM board member Lindsay Meade helped write and publish Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic[2] Lindsay worked with colleagues from the American Society of Acupuncturists, The American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety, The Acupuncture Now Foundation, The American TCM Association, The American TCM Society, National Federation of TCM Organizations, The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, and other national organizations to present the latest research. Acupuncture is shown to be both safe and cost-effective in the treatment of pain. Further:

Acupuncture is an effective way to treat opioid addiction. There are more than 45 human and animal studies and clinical trials included in the PubMed database exploring acupuncture’s role in minimizing the usage of multiple drugs of potential abuse including opiates and methamphetamine.


See the link below for the full white paper. Here is the abstract:

The United States is facing a national opioid epidemic, and medical systems are in need of non-pharmacologic strategies that can be employed to decrease the public’s opioid dependence. Acupuncture has emerged as a powerful, evidence-based, safe, cost-effective, and available treatment modality suitable to meeting this need. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for the management of numerous types of pain, and mechanisms of action for acupuncture have been described and are understandable from biomedical, physiologic perspectives. Further, acupuncture’s cost-effectiveness could dramatically decrease health care expenditures, both from the standpoint of treating acute pain and through avoiding the development of opioid addiction that requires costly care, destroys quality of life, and can lead to fatal overdose. Numerous federal regulatory agencies have advised or mandated that healthcare systems and providers offer non-pharmacologic treatment options, and acupuncture stands as the most evidence-based, immediately available choice to fulfil these calls. Acupuncture can safely, easily, and cost-effectively be incorporated into hospital settings as diverse as the emergency department, labor and delivery suites, and neonatal intensive care units to treat a variety of pain seen commonly in hospitals. Acupuncture is already being successfully and meaningfully utilized by the Veterans Administration and various branches of the U.S. Military.

[1]: The New Yorker Sept 18, 2017

[2]: Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic

American Society of Acupuncturists

The American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) is a national organization that is committed to maintaining high professional standards for acupuncturists and increasing access to the best acupuncture and Asian medicine. NMSAAM works at the state level to help acupuncturists provide high quality treatments to the most patients possible; the ASA works on the national level to do the same things. Of course you can find out much more about the ASA by going to their site


The ASA was officially incorporated in 2015. NMSAAM was proud to host the first meeting of the ASA Council of State Associations (CSA) in March of 2016. The ASA is a 501c6 non-profit just like NMSAAM. Though the organization as a separate corporation is relatively new, the people involved are long time leaders of the profession and have been working together, in some form, for over a decade. The CSA originated as part of the AAAOM, but eventually decided that a more formal structure was needed in order to optimize the efforts of the state associations. For more background, see the article in Acupuncture Today from current ASA Board Chair David Miller announcing the formation of the ASA in 2015.

State Associations

State associations, like NMSAAM, join the ASA as members, and all the individual acupuncturists who are members of the state association become members of the ASA. This has several advantages. The main one is that Individual acupuncturists only pay dues once, to their state association. Another key benefit is that many state associations have resources that can benefit the profession nationwide and the ASA doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to take advantage of them. Because NMSAAM is a member of the ASA, Every NMSAAM member is a member of the ASA!

Each member association gets to appoint two representatives to the Council of State Associations, which is the policy making and guiding body of the ASA. The Council then elects a board of directors of the ASA and the board implements the policy set by the council and runs the organization. The two NMSAAM representatives to the ASA are Steven Malins and Lindsay Meade. If you have questions about the ASA, or want to be more involved you can contact Steven at

More than Acupuncture

Every acupuncturist knows that acupuncture is only a part of the medicine that we practice. Much thought was put in to selecting a name that both conveyed who the organization was and was succinct. Acupuncturists are not just needle pokers. The ASA is committed to supporting acupuncturists in the practice of Asian medicine to it fullest expression and scope. The title acupuncturists was chosen, partly, because of the new Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occupational code that will go into effect in 2018. This is a huge step to defining our profession, for more information see the NCAAOM page dedicated to this long process. The founding state associations of the ASA worked in conjunction with the NCCAOM during this process; so it seemed only fitting that we use the name acupuncturists in our new organization.

2017-2018 NMSAAM Board of Directors

This Sunday, September 17th, was the NMSAAM annual meeting. If you missed it, don’t worry! We are preparing a report of all the speakers and events and will have that available shortly. The annual meeting is where the NMSAAM membership elects officers and board members for the next year. All officers and board members serve one year terms, but may serve several consecutive terms, as specified in our by laws. The following officers and and board members were elected this past Sunday to serve our members and profession.


  • President: Steven Malins
  • Vice President: Yvonne Walston
  • Secretary: Elene Gusch
  • Treasurer: Brandon Taylor

Board Members

  • Eric Buckley
  • Lindsay Meade
  • Kathleen Mathews

We are looking forward to a great year of CEU classes, social gatherings, and increasing access to traditional medicine in New Mexico. All of us on the board thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve you and our profession in the coming year!