Tag Archives: soldiers

VA over-prescribing narcotics to vets: report

soldier drugsEasy access to powerful prescription opiates has led to a rise in overdose deaths among war veterans, a new report has found. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Department of Veterans Affairs has issued more than one opiate prescription per patient, on average, for the past two years. Prescriptions for four opiates – hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine – have surged by 270% in the past 12 years, CIR found in an analysis of data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to CIR:

The agency charged with helping veterans recover from war instead masks their pain with potent drugs, feeding addictions and contributing to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that is nearly double the national average.

CIR notes that this spike in opiate prescriptions has occurred despite new VA regulations laid out in 2009 requiring clinicians to follow an “integrated approach” to helping veterans in pain, including a stronger focus on treating the root causes of pain rather than using powerful narcotics to reduce symptoms.

Many areas of the nation with military bases and large VA hospitals have seen prescription drug abuse skyrocket among American soldiers in recent years.

Posted in Informational, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Painkiller abuse taking lives of N.C. soldiers

soldier drugsPrescription drug abuse has skyrocketed among American soldiers in recent years, and this article out of North Carolina discusses some of the many casualties associated with the huge spike in opiate painkillers in the Fayetteville area since the country went to war more than a decade ago.

A Fayetteville Observer analysis of state and county records found that opiate painkillers contributed to 95 deaths in Cumberland County between 2008 and 2011, more than the previous eight years combined, according to the article. In the counties surrounding Fort Bragg — Hoke, Harnett, Lee, Moore and Cumberland — prescription opiates have been a contributing factor in at least 395 deaths since 2000, the article says.

Moreover, more oxycodone — the main ingredient in Percocet and other addictive painkillers — was sold at pharmacies in the Fayetteville area than anywhere else in North Carolina in 2011, according to the article, while the sale of hydrocodone ranked third-highest in the state.

And painkiller sales during the past decade — when the VA saw an influx of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans — spiked at higher than average rates around towns with military bases and large Veterans Affairs hospitals, the article says: in 2001, the Fayetteville VA prescribed hydrocodone to 1,130 patients; last year, that number soared to 47,586 patients — an increase of 4,100% in 11 years. Nationally, hydrocodone prescriptions rose by 56% from 2001 to 2011.

Posted in Informational, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pill abuse in the military on the rise: report

soldier drugsPrescription drug abuse has skyrocketed among American soldiers in recent years. Over the past decade, the military has spent $1.6 billion on painkillers such as OxyContin and hydrocodone, while $2.7 billion has been spent on anti-depressants and more than $507 million on sleep medications such as Ambien, according to this article. In addition, military physicians writing pain reliever prescriptions to military members quadrupled from 2001 to 2009, nearly 3.8 million, the article notes.

The article cites a government report last year that called for measures to address the problem, including training healthcare providers to better recognize and screen for substance use problems and refer patients to appropriate, evidence-based treatment. There are many obstacles that still need to be overcome, that report noted, including a lack of available services, inadequate insurance coverage for effective outpatient treatments, and a cultural climate in which drug problems are stigmatized and evoke fear in people suffering from them.

Posted in Informational, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opiate abuse on the rise among U.S. soldiers

Abuse of prescription drugs and heroin is becoming more common among U.S. troops, with eight American soldiers dying of overdoses during deployments in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, according to U.S. Army investigative reports recently released to CNN. The number of soldiers testing positive for heroin has grown from 10 instances in fiscal year 2002 to 116 in fiscal year 2010, the article says.

Read more about prescription drug addiction among American troops here.

Posted in Informational, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment