New rules on narcotic painkillers cause grief for veterans and VA – The Washington Post

New federal rules that make it harder to get narcotic painkillers are taking an unexpected toll on thousands of veterans who depend on these prescription drugs to treat a wide variety of ailments, such as missing limbs and post-traumatic stress.

The restrictions, adopted last summer by the Drug Enforcement Administration to curb a national epidemic of opioid abuse, are for the first time, in effect, forcing veterans to return to the doctor every month to renew their medication, although many were already struggling to get appointments at overburdened VA health facilities. And even if patients can get appointments, the new rules pose an additional hardship for many who live a good distance from the health centers.

Although the tighter regulation applies to everyone on opioid painkillers, it’s hitting veterans especially hard because so many are being treated for horrific injuries sustained during the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and have become dependent on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ beleaguered health-care system for medical care.

via New rules on narcotic painkillers cause grief for veterans and VA – The Washington Post.

Starting around 2005-2006, the services and the VA, faced with an influx of badly injured veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, began to aggressively treat chronic pain with opioids.

Coupled with an tendency to automatically treat any complaint even approaching PTSD with an aggressive drug treatment program, that’s led to a lamentable tendency for veterans to be on some long term medication regime.  Further down in the article is this bit:

Half of all returning troops suffer chronic pain, according to a study in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There’s chronic pain, and then there’s chronic pain. We find the proposition that half are suffering from chronic pain to be…. unlikely. Of course, the way the VA and veterans benefits are structured, there’s an incentive for servicemembers to make a claim early and often, lest they be denied at a later date.

But there is a population of veterans who do suffer from real, debilitating long term pain that alternative therapies are unlikely to ameliorate. And of course, that’s the population that has been caught up in the new DEA regulatory scheme. As if dealing with the VA wasn’t trying enough beforehand.

3 thoughts on “New rules on narcotic painkillers cause grief for veterans and VA – The Washington Post”

  1. Not sure about the policies that went into effect but when I had a parade of SGTs and SSGs in my office addicted to oxycontin and the like, something needs to be done. When a guy can get prescriptions on- and off post and no one knows and the systems don’t talk to each other or he can walk into the ER with some “back pain” claim and get a months worth of opioids with no requirement for his regular doctor to even see that, something needs to be done. The use of this stuff is out of hand. These guys are turning into addicts. Had a guy steak a HMMWV and ram it into a door at CIF to steal gear to sell for drug money. Same guy had been in the proximity of ten thefts without being caught. I gave him 3 AR 15s while waiting for his eventual court martial. All because of his addiction. And there are others like that.

  2. I’m surprised that anyone’s surprised. This is how big government operates and how big government has always and will always operate. Individuals in today’s military and VA systems think of themselves as individual human beings. But as far as big government is concerned, they are not. They are numbered objects. Inventory. Some inventory is damaged. So what? It’s just stuff.

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