Expanding Access to Nonpharmacological Care with Opioid Settlement Funds

Settlements from lawsuits against some of the largest companies at the center of the opioid crisis will generate over $50 billion. This money will be distributed among states, cities and municipalities to help address the catastrophic consequences of opioid misuse and abuse.  

While efforts are being made to reduce opioid use, effective pain management remains elusive for patients with both acute and chronic pain. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, and activists for nonpharmacological care can play a key role in not only delivering treatments for pain, but in creating awareness and access through advocacy.  

New Recommendations from RAND 

In August, RAND Corporation released “Alternatives to Opioids: A Missing Piece of the Strategy,” a paper outlining recommendations for opioid settlement funds to be directed toward strategies that decrease clinically unnecessary opioid use, specifically by better leveraging evidence-based, nonpharmacological pain management. 

Michele Maiers, DC, PhD, MPH, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at NWHSU, is a co-author on the paper, and sees this as a real moment of opportunity for NWHSU alumni and students to get engaged. “Our graduates deliver evidence-aligned interventions that serve as important, upstream alternatives to opioid initiation for pain. Settlement funding presents a unique opportunity for us to collaborate with community stakeholders and create innovative, local initiatives to improve pain care and increase access to their services.” 

A Toolkit for Chiropractors and Stakeholders 

Now is an important time for chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and other stakeholders to advocate for funding to be used to increase access to our modalities and other evidence-based alternatives to opioids. However, it can be difficult to know where to start.  

For that reason, Northwestern Health Sciences University released a toolkit that explains the RAND recommendations and outlines various strategies that both advocates and organizations can use to expand access to evidence-based alternatives to opioids. Dr. Maiers led a team in creating content that she hopes will provide the community with a tangible roadmap to navigating advocacy. “Our goal with this toolkit is to equip our community with resources needed to leverage this opportunity for the betterment of the communities they serve.”  

You can find the toolkit at nwhealth.edu/chip/opioid-settlement-toolkit.  On the site you will also find a comment box: the team would love to hear about any success you’ve had applying for funds.