New Hampshire is one of many states across the nation that is desperately seeking ways to battle a burgeoning epidemic of drug addiction. Thanks in large measure to the advocacy of a licensed acupuncturist and Hollins alumna, treatment providers now have a powerful new tool in their arsenal.
Elizabeth Ropp ’99, who lives in Manchester and has been a practicing acupuncturist for 10 years, fought for passage of House Bill 575, which permits recovery and mental health professionals in New Hampshire to use ear acupuncture to treat addicts.
“That might sound strange, but it works,” Ropp wrote last March in an opinion piece for the Concord Monitor. “Acupuncture can be a safe, cheap and effective tool to help people in all stages of addiction recovery. It can help soothe the symptoms of withdrawal, reduce cravings, and ease anxiety or trauma that can lead people to use drugs in the first place.”
She concluded, “New Hampshire is first-in-the-nation for death by fentanyl overdose. This is a problem that touches all of us. We need to open up as many pathways to recovery as possible. We are all in this together, and together we can get through this.”
According to Ropp, HB 575 allows for both licensed and non-licensed addiction recovery and mental health workers to be trained and certified in ear acupuncture, “a simple procedure that involves placing five tiny needles in specific points around the outer ear. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association has trained more than 10,000 health professionals across the country in this practice.”
Ropp and others effectively lobbied state senators and representatives from both political parties on the benefits of ear acupuncture and the steps necessary to make it affordable and eliminate unnecessary administrative costs. The bill became law on July 1.
“We could be trendsetters for the nation,” Ropp told the New Hampshire Union Leader in June. “With this bill, we have more flexibility, we have seen the mistakes other states have made in setting this up and learned from them.”
Photo Caption: Elizabeth Ropp ’99 (right) with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on the day House Bill 575 was passed into law.
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