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Slow Roll-Out for Acupuncture Program Aimed at Aiding N.H. Addicts

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
At the Revive Recovery House in Nashua, acupuncturist Elizabeth Ropp gives ear treatment designed for drug addiction to those battling a substance abuse problem. (NHPR photo, 2017)

One year after New Hampshire moved to expand access to acupuncturefor those struggling with addiction and mental health, the new law has yet to be rolled out.

The legislation allows licensed recovery coaches, peer counselors and health care professionals to offer a specific type of acupuncture, what’s known as acu-detox or ear acupuncture, after going through a standard training.

But the state’s acupuncture licensing board is still winding through the process of writing rules for the program. Advocates for the treatment are frustrated by the delay. “The stakes are high,” said Laura Cooley, a licensed acupuncturist who pushed for the policy change.  “How many people have died since we passed this law?”

It’s not unusual for rulemaking to take months to complete, according to Bob Lamberti with the state’s office of professional licensure. But he pointed to a “careful” approach on behalf of the board in this case as adding additional time.

At an event in Lebanon last week, the Governor’s Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health David Mara said expanding access to nondrug treatments, like acupuncture and chiropractic care, is a priority for the governor in addressing the opioid crisis. “The sooner you can get services out to people, the better,” he said. “But there is a process to make sure it’s done properly.”

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