Thursday, December 29, 2016

Killing Pain or Killing Veterans?

The claim made about Opioids is a valid one. The question is, why hasn't Congress done their jobs after all the years it has been reported in the past?

Not a new problem for veterans
Air Force veteran Ken Grady, 45, says the local VA prescribed him OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and fentanyl patches in the 2000s because of a series of surgeries for back injuries. “The VA made it so easy,” he says. “It was endless, and I abused it.”
And one more thing to point out is this.
Last month, Mr. Grady had several teeth pulled by a VA contractor, who prescribed him Vicodin for the pain. Mr. Grady says he protested, but “you don’t have to twist my arm too much.” He relapsed, bought more pills on the street and landed back in jail. He hoped to be out by Christmas but his mother says it is taking longer than expected to find treatment and a place to stay.

The VA Hooked Veterans on Opioids, Then Failed Them Again
Wall Street Journal
By Valerie Bauerlein and Arian Campo-Flores
Photographs by Travis Dove for The Wall Street Journal

Shortly after enlisting in the Army, Robert Deatherage was prescribed Percocet for a back injury. Wounds from Afghanistan meant more painkillers.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.—Robert Deatherage, a 30-year-old Army veteran who has battled addiction to pain pills and heroin since suffering severe injuries in Afghanistan, says he reached rock bottom a year ago when he holed up in an empty church and tried to kill himself. Twice.

“I was just so sick of being as sick as I was,” he says. He put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t fire. He says he then used two syringes to shoot all the drugs he had, but didn’t overdose.

Mr. Deatherage took the failure as a spiritual sign and walked to the nearby Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The facility didn’t have any space and turned him away, offering only a jacket from the lost and found and a phone number for a homeless veterans coordinator. After he picked up his disability check a few days later, he checked into a hotel where he knew other addicts, including veterans.

“It gets discouraging,” Mr. Deatherage says. “It makes it easier to just say, ‘F--- it, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.’ ”
read more here

But this is nothing new.

Veterans dying from overmedicationCBS News
By Jim Axelrod
September 19, 2013
(CBS News) Veterans by the tens of thousands have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries suffered on the battlefield. Many of them seek treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Now a CBS News investigation has found that some veterans are dying of accidental overdoses of narcotic painkillers at a much higher rate than the general population -- and some VA doctors are speaking out.
Five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan left 35-year-old Army Spc. Scott McDonald with chronic back pain.
His wife Heather said over the course of a year, VA doctors in Columbus, Ohio prescribed him eight pain and psychiatric medications."It just got out of control," said Heather. "They just started pill after pill, prescription after prescription...and he'd come home with all brand-new medications, higher milligrams."
Then a VA doctor added a ninth pill -- a narcotic called Percocet. Later that evening, Heather came home from work and found Scott disoriented on the couch.
"And I asked him," Heather recalled, "'You didn't by chance by accident take too many pills, did you?' And he's like, 'No, no. I did what they told me to take, Heather.' I popped a pillow under his head and that's how I found him the next morning, exactly like that."
McDonald wasn't breathing. The coroner's report ruled his death accidental. He had been "overmedicated" and that he died from the combined effects of five of his medications.
read more here
But that wasn't new either
Veterans with PTSD more likely to get addictive painkillers despite the risks, VA study showsBy Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 4:34 PM (2012)
CHICAGO — Morphine and similar powerful painkillers are sometimes prescribed to recent war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress along with physical pain, and the consequences can be tragic, a government study suggests.
These vets are at high risk for drug and alcohol abuse, but they’re two times more likely to get prescriptions for addictive painkillers than vets with only physical pain, according to the study, billed as the first national examination of the problem. Iraq and Afghanistan vets with PTSD who already had substance abuse problems were four times more likely to get these drugs than vets without mental health problems, according to the study.
Subsequent suicides, other self-inflicted injuries, and drug and alcohol overdoses were all more common in vets with PTSD who got these drugs. These consequences were rare but still troubling, the study authors more here 

But that was nothing new either. 

Rise in drug prescriptions may signal abuseBy Gregg Zoroya - USA TodayPosted : Saturday Nov 1, 2008
The sharp rise in outpatient prescriptions paid for by the government suggests doctors rely too heavily on narcotics, says Army Col. Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Recently, at least 20 soldiers in an engineer company of 70 to 80 soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., shared and abused painkillers prescribed for their injuries, according to court testimony.
“The groundwork for this toxic situation was laid out through the continual prescription of highly addictive, commonly overused drugs,” said Capt. Elizabeth Turner, the lawyer for one defendant in the case.
In response to six suicides and seven drug-related deaths among soldiers in Warrior Transition Units — created for the Army's most severely injured — aggressive efforts are underway to manage prescription drugs, says Col. Paul Cordts, chief of health policy for the Army surgeon general. These include limiting prescriptions to a seven-day supply and more closely monitoring use.
But that wasn't new either 
Autopsy: Mix of pain meds killed Irwin soldierThe Associated PressPosted : Friday Aug 22, 2008 8:08:04 EDT
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — An autopsy of a soldier who died while training at Fort Irwin has revealed she was killed by a combination of prescription drugs she was taking for pain.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department made the finding about the accidental death of Spc. Emily T. Ort, 24, of Willis, Texas.
“There is no evidence of suicide,” the report said. “The decedent did not have a history of chronic drug abuse.”
On May 3, Ort was discovered unresponsive in her sleeping bag and was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy was performed a few days later, but the report was not released until this week.
Ort had acetaminophen, morphine, hydrocodone and gabapentin as well as anti-anxiety drugs Valium and oxazepam in her system, the report said.
The soldier was apparently taking Vicodin and Valium for injuries she sustained during a 2007 car accident.
The night before she died, Ort told her mother that her medication was stolen and her doctor prescribed morphine and a muscle relaxer as replacements, the report said.

I could keep going but I have such informed readers you get the point.

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