CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House will vote Wednesday on a bill that would allow licensed health professionals and addiction recovery workers to practice ear acupuncture with people detoxing from opioids. NH House Bill 575 seeks to create an exemption in the state’s acupuncture licensing laws so that professionals not carrying an acupuncture license can train and certify as Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists.
Supporters and opponents of the bill faced off on Valentine’s Day at a hearing of the House Executive Departments and Administrative Affairs Committee. The Committee heard testimony in support from medical doctors, recovering addicts, recovery workers, and licensed acupuncturists.
“Governor Sununu stated in his inauguration speech that we need multiple pathways to recovery,” said Elizabeth Ropp, an acupuncturist and proponent of the bill from Manchester. “Ear acupuncture is one pathway. It is safe, cheap, and effective. Acupuncturists in New Hampshire have a moral obligation to allow recovery and mental health workers to certify and practice ear acupuncture.”
The House Committee also heard opposition testimony from the Acupuncture Licensing Board and the NH Acupuncture and Asian Medicine Association, which expressed concern about who would be eligible to get certification to practice ear acupuncture, and how would they be supervised.
The House Committee hashed out these specific concerns in a subcommittee meeting, chaired by State Rep. Peter Hansen, R-Amherst. As the meeting got underway, Hansen addressed the bill’s opponents saying, “Killing it is not an option as far as I am concerned. I feel, and most of us feel this to be a critical necessity to the state with respect to the opioid problem.”
At the March 1 Executive Session, the House Committee voted 19-1 on the motion that HB575 “Ought to Pass with Amendment.” On the House Consent Calendar the note on the bill states, “Passage of this bill will bring another source of aid to the substance abuse victims, assisting them to achieve substance free living.”
Twenty-three other states in the country have legislation that allow for various health professionals to utilize ear acupuncture detoxification in recovery programs. The technique was developed in the 1970s when communities in the South Bronx were ravaged by a heroin epidemic.
Since 1985, NADA, National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has certified over 10,000 health care professionals and volunteers as acupuncture detoxification specialists. The treatment consists inserting tiny needles at 5 points along the outer ear. The treatment has shown to be safe, cheap, and effective. It serves as an adjunctive treatment to curb the symptoms of withdrawal, reduce cravings, and deal with underlying anxiety and trauma.
On the day that the House will vote on the bill, supporters will gather in front of the state house. Acupuncturists will be providing free NADA ear acupuncture treatments.