Veterans with PTSD at High Risk of Opioid Painkiller Addiction
Published March 8, 2012
New research seems to indicate that veterans, who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders, may be at a high risk of addiction to opioid painkillers.
According to the study, veterans who need painkillers, and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems, are much more likely to be prescribed strong opioid painkillers. Some of these painkillers including Vicodin and OxyContin have already been linked to many cases of abuse and addiction. Persons who have been advised strong painkillers like these can get addicted to the pills, with a real potential for overdose. OxyContin, in particular, has been linked to many fatal overdoses.
When veterans, who suffer from mental health problems, including symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder, are prescribed strong painkillers, the risk of addictions and overdoses is even higher.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The researchers analyzed data involving 141,000 veterans. All the veterans had been treated for pain-related issues at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers between 2005 and 2010. Some of these veterans had also been diagnosed with a mental health problem.
Close to 16,000 patients were placed on a program of opioid painkillers that required them to take the painkillers 3 times a week. The researchers found that less than 7% of veterans without post traumatic disorder or other mental-health disorders were prescribed opioid painkillers. However, close to 12% of veterans who suffered from depression or anxiety were given the opioid painkillers. People suffering from PTSD had the highest rates of painkiller prescriptions, at about 18%.
The study seems to indicate to California veteran’s benefits lawyers a sense of recklessness while treating veterans with pain issues. Currently, the system doesn’t take into consideration individual concerns, and a veteran’s likelihood of becoming addicted to painkillers, before these potent drugs are prescribed.