Many veterans suffer from chronic pain due to injuries sustained during their service, and, as a result, are prescribed narcotic painkillers—now widely agreed to be highly addictive. The VA has set protocols to ensure that opioids are prescribed carefully, and that patients with prescriptions are monitored to minimize the potential for abuse.
According to the recent study, however, those protocols were not followed. In 2012, 13% of VA patients prescribed painkillers had a history of substance abuse before being prescribed the medication, and 23% were permitted to refill their prescriptions at least seven days early.
This has led to a high rate of addiction and overdose among veterans. “The overdose rate within the VA system is twice the national average,” said Andrew Kolodny, M.D., Phoenix House’s Chief Medical Officer. In response to the report, the VA said it has made reforms since 2012.
Source: Tampa Bay Times –