High Rates of Prescription Painkiller Addiction among Veterans

12 Oct 2013
According to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting , veterans being treated at Veterans Administration hospitals are been prescribed unnecessarily strong painkillers, increasing their risks of addiction. The report claims that the agency prescribes strong drugs for veterans struggling with injury-related pain and other conditions, increasing the risk of addictions involving these drugs. As a result, the fatal overdose rate among Veterans Administration patients now is almost double the national average.

According to the report, prescriptions for some of the most frequently abused opiates like methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine have increased by 270% over the past 12 years alone. That increase in prescriptions is not proportionate to the increase in the number of patients treated by the Veterans Administration.In many cases, veterans have become so addicted to painkillers that the addiction has become a life-saving situation to them.

According to the data, the agency has issued more than one opiate prescription per patient on an average over the past two years. Many experts believe that the agency’s over medication of patients is partly because the agency continues to struggle to meet the need for more sophisticated treatments for war-related injuries. California veterans disability benefits lawyers find that the over dependence on the use of opiate drugs to treat veterans is very often counterproductive, because these drugs often end up hurting the veterans they are supposed to be treating.

It's not as if the agency is not aware of these problems. In 2009, new regulations issued by the Veterans Administration required an integrated approach to treating veterans in pain, including a focus on treatment of the causes of pain, rather than treating the symptoms using narcotics. However, nothing much seems to have changed on the ground.