Dynamic Chiropractic – March 1, 2014, Vol. 32, Issue 05

The Power of Words: DCs Share Drug-Free Approach

By Lewis Bazakos, MS, DC, Chiropractic Summit Chairman

There's no doubt that words are powerful and important – especially in the chiropractic profession, where we have been struggling for years to find the right words to describe who we are and what we do.

At the recent gathering of the Chiropractic Summit in Seattle, I believe the profession had a breakthrough when it agreed to language that would describe the profession's viewpoint on the use of drugs in chiropractic health care. To recap, here is what all 40 members of the summit agreed on:

"The drug issue is a non-issue because no chiropractic organization in the Summit promotes the inclusion of prescription drug rights and all chiropractic organizations in the Summit support the drug-free approach to health care."

As you can imagine, this statement was crafted very carefully and after long discussions by all participants of the summit, which includes organizations and individuals from all corners of the profession and with widely varying viewpoints.

When the group first approached the task, it realized that the profession could not legitimately use the word drugless to describe itself. Surprised? It makes sense when you consider the FDA classifies the use of certain vitamins and supplements to treat a condition a form of drug use. With so many doctors of chiropractic using nutritional therapy to help their patients, it was obvious to even the most conservative among us that drug-free approach more accurately describes what we all do.

Taking a drug-free approach to health care means doctors of chiropractic approach every patient with the intention of using a mix of non-drug treatments as they create their patient care plan. When you think about it, some allopathic doctors have the same approach, but there's no doubt the chiropractic profession, in its 100-plus-year history of conservative care, can do it better.

Think about a patient who comes into an MD's office with diabetes. Theoretically, one of the very first things that physician should do is advise the patient to lose weight and start eating better. That's a drug-free approach – and that's exactly how DCs help their patients (in addition to spinal manipulation and other non-drug treatments such as exercise recommendations, physical therapy modalities, nutritional advice, manual therapy, healthy-lifestyle education, etc.). We are lucky to have a toolbox filled with non-drug options for our patients.

Granted, there are wide variations in the scope of practice for chiropractic based on the state in which DCs practice. Some states are quite expansive in what they allow doctors of chiropractic to do; others are rather restrictive. The summit's role is not to define scope (that is the function of the states themselves), so any statement on chiropractic practice drafted – to be accurate – needed to keep into account those who may have more tools in their toolbox.

Nevertheless, the approach all doctors of chiropractic take, regardless of their available tools for patient care, is first and foremost drug free. This is what unites us. As a profession, we can be proud that the organizations representing the Chiropractic Summit came together and unanimously agreed on this very positive and powerful statement.


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