On June 24, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 451: Non-Opioid Alternatives into law. This new statute provides helpful guidance for health care providers and patients about the use of non-opioid treatment options for chronic pain.

The new law, which took effect on July 1, provides Floridians with several important health care protections and establishes that “the (FL) Legislature finds that every competent adult has the fundamental right of self-determination regarding decisions pertaining to his or her own health, including the right to refuse an opioid drug listed as a Schedule II controlled substance.”

This new law amended F.S. 456.44, the Florida Controlled Substance Prescribing statute, and it required the Florida Department of Health to develop and publish an educational pamphlet to be used by health care providers and their patients.

The pamphlet describes available non-opioid alternatives for treating various types of pain, and includes use of acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, massage therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy or any other appropriate therapy as determined by the health care practitioner. Practitioners will also need discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using these non-opioid alternatives with patients.

This is a bold move by Florida Legislature and the governor that demonstrates a commitment to make good on promises to reform opioid prescribing and reduce opioid dependence in the state. Providing practitioners and patients with a tangible educational pamphlet published by the Florida Department of Health will heighten awareness and confidence in both recommending and using these safe and effective non-opioid treatments for chronic pain.

Use of acupuncture for treatment of painful conditions, including low back pain, hip, shoulder and neck pain has been well-documented for more than 2,000 years. Florida licensed acupuncturists are required to complete a four-year master’s degree program that emphasizes advanced training in anatomy, physiology and pathology.

Acupuncturists are trained to evaluate and treat a broad range of painful conditions; and, like many other health care providers, acupuncturists may refer patients to other specialists for imaging, second opinions or direct care when needed.

Seldom is there just one solution to a complex problem. This aptly applies to treating pain, because often the source of pain in the body is multi-factorial. What is well understood and known to be true is that acupuncture is reliably safe and effective in treating many painful conditions.

Please, consult with your physician and review the Florida Department of Health’s non-opioid alternatives pamphlet to learn more about acupuncture and your treatment options for chronic pain.

Contact David Bibbey, L.Ac. DOM, doctor of Oriental medicine, at Alternative Primary Care, 441 SE Kings Bay Drive, Crystal River, 352-464-1645.

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