This article comes from Guidepoints News from NADA Summer 2021 Issue. Sign-up to receive Guidepoints in your inbox quartlery. The Guidepoints newsletter is the only publication devoted to the sharing and dissemination of our NADA work on an international scale. Become a member to opt-in for a print copy. Check-out past issues.

After over two years of advocacy, on May 4, 2021, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1255 into law. The previous law regulated “auricular acupuncturists†and  limited the scope of practice to substance use disorder treatment in a state or federally licensed treatment program. SB 1255 made four amendments:

  1. it changed “auricular acupuncturist†to “acupuncture detoxification specialistâ€;
  2. it added “trauma†to the scope of practice;
  3. it removed the restriction oflocation of treatment; and
  4. it required a written informed consent to treatment.

Using the NADA-preferred term, “acupuncture detoxification specialist†(ADS), eases concerns by licensed acupuncturists that people with NADA training would hold themselves out to be auricular acupuncturists. It also supports the NADA stipulation that only the five points can be used. Adding trauma to the scope of practice is a critical change, as many people suffer from experiential or relational trauma, including work-related trauma, without a co-occurring substance use addiction. The removal of the site restriction will allow staff in a wide variety of settings, including jails, prisons, halfway houses, shelters and social services settings to be trained as ADSes to supplement and improve the services they deliver.

We developed a strong working relationship with members of the Arizona acupuncture board, especially Mario Fontes, a medical doctor, Rosemary Zimmerman, an acupuncturist, and David Geriminsky, the board’s executive director. Geriminsky’s expertise with the legislative process was instrumental throughout the multi-year advocacy for the amendments.

Another board member, Susan William, also worked with us advocating for the new law. William is a consumer member and the 2020-2021 chairperson of the acupuncture board of directors. Williams’ commitment to expand access to NADA was personal. “I witnessed the struggles and eventual death from an opioid overdose of my friend’s son, a young man who had been medically prescribed opioids for an injury he sustained while in the armed services. I also experienced the death of a close family friend and the suicide of a family member after years of opioid addiction. All this increased my commitment to make a positive change to give help in these – and other – kinds of situations. I was fortunate to work with a wonderfully supportive board that understood and shared this passion to do what we could to make the NADA protocol more accessible in the state of Arizona.â€

These incidents and acknowledgement of the enormous social toll addiction, trauma and PTSD are taking were the driving forces for her persistent advocacy for SB 1255. Her efforts were recognized with an award from NADA at the Southwest Regional Virtual Conference on October 15, 2020.  A group of Arizona NADA members formed the Arizona Advocacy Group that met monthly for close to two years to develop strategies and a diverse array of support for the legislation. The advocacy committee structure allowed us to respond quickly when the need arose, as the legislative process continually required us to hurry up and wait, and then to hurry up again. Finally, NADA Executive Director Sara Bursać’s expertise and responsiveness was invaluable in helping to answer questions about legislation in other states and the varied use of the NADA protocol nationwide.

The effective date of the new law was September 29, 2021. We will need to educate the public, as well as the governmental and non-profit sectors, about the significance of these changes. That should lead to a big increase in the demand for NADA training in Arizona which the Arizona NADA community is looking forward to fulfilling. 

If you are interested in pursuing expanded authorization for ADSes in either new legislation or amendments to existing legislation, I strongly encourage you to participate in the monthly NADA legislative advocacy committee Zoom meetings on the second Monday of the month. It is a collegial and supportive group of NADA members who have pursued or are pursuing legislative changes to ADS laws in their states. You can save a lot of time and effort by learning from those who have been through the process and are eager to help out. I hope to see a bigger turnout at future advocacy group Zoom meetings as we all continue our work to spread the Spirit of NADA.