Opioid Crisis Among Veterans
The United States is going through one of its worst drug crises to date as a result of opioid addiction. This epidemic has led to a sharp increase in overdose deaths caused by the use of prescription drugs or heroin, making it the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50.
Veterans, in particular, are at risk of the addictive effects of opioids. Combat injuries are common and many are prescribed prescription drugs in order to treat the chronic pain that occurs. Unfortunately, many are at risk of addiction due to the nature of these drugs and often begin to feel the effects of this upon discharge from service.
The Startling Reality of Addiction
The reality is that the problem has two major issues: prescription drugs are essential in certain cases to treat chronic pain, but poorly managed treatments can result in addiction or abuse.
The biggest challenge that the VA is facing is finding a way to manage chronic pain treatment without having to use opioid painkillers.
This comes with several hurdles, most notably the fact that doctors don’t spend much time with their patients in order to find what works for them. Since many veterans are awaiting service this creates a large wait which often results in some having to wait several months for treatment. The VA system is overloaded and this is often a challenge that many have to face as they wait for treatment.
Some Changes Have Begun
The VA has addressed these concerns by reducing the number of veterans who are prescribed opioid painkillers. There has also been a new push for more comprehensive alternatives to treat chronic pain without using addictive opioids. Methods of pain treatment include yoga, practicing mindfulness, physical therapy, and even acupuncture.
However, this often results in a large variety of treatments that have to be tried out for each patient which often prolongs treatment. Not to mention that opioid-use disorders have have still continued to grow between 2010 and 2015 with an estimated 68,000 veterans currently taking them to cope with chronic pain.
This unfortunately comes at a time when the VA is unable to handle the large amount of veterans in need. The VA has admitted that shortcomings have occurred as a result of the limited resources they have. This leaves many with chronic pain unable to access the treatment they need in order to recover.
Failure Is Not An Option
Uneven access to care and blanket treatments that result in chemical dependency are issues that put our veteran’s lives at risk. While opioid drugs are essential to treat some cases of chronic pain it’s also necessary to keep track of their treatment to avoid the ill effects of addiction that can result.
For those who are already facing addiction, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Warriors Heart has treatment options for those in the military or who are part of the first responder force and who experience the dangerous effects of addiction. By receiving treatment alongside others who are facing similar situations they’re able to heal with respect and care.
Our mission statement is to minimize the impact of addiction for those affected by opioid drug use, and to save the lives of veterans, active duty military, and first responders.