Opioids are a class of medication used for pain relief. Two of the most well-known opioids are morphine and codeine, but there are many others such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and diphenoxylate [1]. Recent research has highlighted the risks involved with long-term use of opioids for managing chronic pain. The most shocking research comes from the US, where there has been a high number of prescription opioid overdoses [2]. Evidence from Europe is less dramatic, but still reveals the negative side-effects of the long-term opioid use. Opioids can have potentially fatal adverse effects and increase the risk of serious outcomes of chronic pain. Also, mixing opioids with other drugs prescribed for chronic pain or for other health problems is potentially dangerous. Furthermore, according to a recent study, chronic pain patients have a poor quality of life with high risk of disability and depression; opioid treatment adds to this burden by, for example, increasing the risk of injury and intoxication [3].

In contrast, research has shown that acupuncture is effective for treating chronic pain and more effective than a placebo [4].

Click here to watch a video clip of how acupuncture might work.

To book an appointment with an acupuncturist at the York Clinic, phone 01904 709688 between 9am and 6pm or weekdays, or between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, email us at email@yorkclinic.com, or use our contact form.  We will respond to you as quickly as possible.


  1. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/opioids/what-are-opioids
  2. Okie S. A flood of opioids, a rising tide of deaths. N Engl J Med 2010;363:1981–5.
  3. Breivik, H. and Stubhaug, A.  ‘Burden of disease is often aggravated by opioid treatment of chronic pain patients: Etiology and prevention’ in PAIN 155 (2014), 2441-3.
  4. Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med 2012;172(19):1444-1453.