Treating veterans’ pain with Big Pharma opioids is proving to be deadly and has to stop NOW

Saturday, November 18, 2017
By Paul Martin

by: JD Heyes
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Long careers in the military have always been difficult due to the very physical nature of the vocation, but service has been particularly tough in recent years due to overseas contingency operations.

Lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with operations in Africa, Europe, and Asia, have taken their toll on the men and women who sacrifice much to serve in the armed forces. For many of these vets, they’ve been left with injuries and wounds that will plague them for the rest of their lives.

One of the military’s primary ways of treating veterans’ chronic pain is through opioids, but recent statistics prove this is a terrible treatment protocol for many reasons, not the least of which because opioid use (and abuse) by vets is killing many of them.

In a column for the New York Observer, Ken Blaker writes that “bandaging” military members’ pain with opioids is a deadly prospect and ought to be stopped immediately.

“In his 1961 novel Joseph Heller coined the term Catch-22 by describing a military rule that placed airmen in a double bind — unable to solve a problem because of the circumstances inherent in a problem. For Veterans in 2017, opioid abuse is the most devastating Catch-22,” he wrote.

He noted that current data shows that veterans, who are subject to high levels of trauma and mental health issues, are dying of opioid overdose at twice the rate of the general population — a stunning statistic given that the general population is dying at a high rate due to opioid overdose.

The VA’s Office of Inspector General published a report over the summer that makes, among others, a recommendation for stricter guidelines for prescribing opioids, as well as better use of electronic medical records to provide for greater tracking.

However, notes Blaker, these are just minor steps that will only minimally reduce the abuse epidemic because they are not (so far) tied to “drug-free treatments that enhance the health and lives of veterans,” he wrote.

“Opioids have become the magic bullet for treating pain,” added. “In 2001 the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations introduced standards for helping pain patients that encouraged increased use of opioids.

“The report downplayed the risk of addiction, and virtually suggested that access to opioids is a patient’s right. But of course specific drugs are not a right. Rather, patients are entitled to the best treatments that do the least harm,” he said.

The Rest…HERE

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