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VA Adjusts Methods of Pain Management in Wake of Veteran Overdoses

VA Adjusts Methods of Pain Management in Wake of Veteran Overdoses

According to Pentagon data, the number of prescriptions for painkillers written by military doctors to service members quadrupled between the years of 2001 and 2009, from 866,773 to 3.8 million (Turner, 2014). Medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone are among the various addictive opioids prescribed to military personnel. As a result, veteran abuse of or addiction to prescription drugs tripled between the years of 2005 and 2008, and accidental overdoses among veterans have occurred at a 33 percent higher rate than civilians (Turner, 2014). 


To combat these staggering numbers, the Veterans Administration launched the Opiate Safety Initiative in February, in addition to the revised guidelines for prescriptions released in 2009. The Initiative is a nationwide, educational effort to inform veterans and health care providers about the dangers of prescription pain medication. Some VA hospitals—such as the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC—are utilizing holistic approaches to chronic pain management, such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, biofeedback, and hypnosis. Many hospitals are already reporting lower rates of opioid prescriptions. 



Turner, C. (2014). Killing veterans with painkillers – The VA reverses course. The Fix. Retrieved from www.thefix.com/content/veterans-overdose-prescription-painkillers