Some states are taking a proactive approach to curbing and managing substance abuse disorders, aiming to provide nonpharmacological care for underlying pain problems.

Rhode Island’s Gov.Gina Raimondo signed legislation that requires insurers to cover chiropractic treatment for pain for individuals with substance use disorders. Under the new law, patients who seek such care must have insurance and the therapy must be medically necessary for licensed chiropractors to receive reimbursement.

“While many states have opted to pass unintentionally harmful legislation that hinders access to individuals in need of specific prescription therapies, states like Rhode Island are taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture,” says Shaina Smith, director of State Advocacy & Alliance Development. “We can’t simply see each of these issues—opioid misuse and abuse, lack of funding and programs for addiction disease, treatment access barriers—as separate challenges, but as one integrated social and financial crisis we can strive to overcome.”

This past legislative session, a number of states sought to rectify the prescription abuse conundrum via a number of methods: limiting the dispensing of opioids, providing coverage for inpatient detoxification services, enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs, the establishment of working groups, and identifying barriers to access substance abuse treatment referral programs. While some of these tactics are a step in the right direction, others have been problematic for patients with legitimate pain., Many are calling for additional mechanisms that addresses addiction and chronic pain in a multimodal approach.

“When it comes to these complex societal enigmas afflicting our healthcare system, our families, and  our children, we applaud states like Rhode Island for recognizing the benefits of interdisciplinary pain care for people with chronic conditions and individuals with addiction disease,” Smith adds. “These are positive first steps to offer equality among varying licensed physicians and also bring together appropriate therapeutic approaches for these far-too-often stigmatized populations.”

Learn more about U.S. Pain’s position on balanced pain management here.