Opioid abuse crisis takes heavy toll on U.S. veterans




  • In US
  • 2017-11-10 11:09:51Z
  • By By Barbara Goldberg
 

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Opioid drug abuse has killed more Americans than the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars combined, and U.S. veterans and advocates this Veteran's Day are focusing on how to help victims of the crisis.

Veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to die from accidental overdoses of the highly addictive painkillers, a rate that reflects high levels of chronic pain among vets, particularly those who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to federal data.

U.S. government and healthcare officials have been struggling to stem the epidemic of overdoses, which killed more than 64,000 Americans in the 12 months ending last January alone, a 21 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 65,000 Americans died in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump named opioids a national public health emergency and a White House commission last week recommended establishing a nationwide system of drug courts and easier access to alternatives to opioids for people in pain.

"Our veterans deserve better than polished sound bites and empty promises," said former Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a recovering addict and a member of the president's opioid commission.

Kennedy said in an e-mail that more funding was needed for treatment facilities and medical professionals to help tackle the problem.

One effort to address the issue has stalled in Congress - the proposed Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator John McCain. That measure is aimed at researching ways to help Veterans Administration doctors rely less on opioids in treating chronic pain.

"The Veterans Administration needs to understand whether overmedication of drugs, such as opioid pain-killers, is a contributing factor in suicide-related deaths," McCain, one of the nation's most visible veterans, said in an e-mail on Thursday. He noted that 20 veterans take their lives each day, a suicide rate 21 percent higher than for other U.S. adults.

The VA system has stepped up its efforts to address the crisis, having treated some 68,000 veterans for opioid addiction since March, said Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Curtis Cashour.

The department's Louis Stokes VA Center in Cleveland has also begun testing alternative treatments, including acupuncture and yoga, to reduce use of and dependency on the drugs, the VA said.

A delay in naming a Trump administration "drug czar" to head the effort, however, has fueled doubts about immediate action on the opioid crisis. Last month the White House nominee, Representative Tom Marino, withdrew from consideration following a report he spearheaded a bill that hurt the government's ability to crack down on opioid makers.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Dan Grebler)

COMMENTS

More Related News

The Latest: Sources say deal reached on tax overhaul
The Latest: Sources say deal reached on tax overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the Republican tax overhaul (all times local):

FBI agent removed from Russia probe called Trump an
FBI agent removed from Russia probe called Trump an 'idiot'

Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel's investigation into Donald Trump's presidential campaign described him with insults like "idiot" and "loathsome human" ...

Democrat Jones wins U.S. Senate seat in Alabama in blow to Trump
Democrat Jones wins U.S. Senate seat in Alabama in blow to Trump
  • US
  • 2017-12-13 03:42:41Z

Democrat Doug Jones won a bitter fight for a U.S. Senate seat in deeply conservative Alabama on Tuesday, U.S. media projected, dealing a political blow to President Donald Trump in a race marked by accusations of sexual misconduct against Republican candidate Roy Moore. The stunning upset by Jones makes

U.S. not granting loan relief to defrauded students: inspector general
U.S. not granting loan relief to defrauded students: inspector general
  • US
  • 2017-12-11 22:47:56Z

The U.S. Education Department under President Donald Trump and Secretary Betsy DeVos has stopped cancelling the student-loan debt of people defrauded by failed for-profit schools and those borrowers face mounting interest and other burdens, its inspector general said on Monday. DeVos is seeking to redo the process for cancelling the debts of people who attended Corinthian Colleges, which collapsed in 2015 amid government investigations into its post-graduation rates, and other failed schools. In the final days of his administration, President Barack Obama approved rules speeding up the debt cancellations.

White House Slamming Media
White House Slamming Media's Mistakes Is Height Of Hypocrisy

WASHINGTON ― White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lashed out at reporters on Monday in response to multiple high-profile corrections to news stories this month, falsely claiming that journalistic outlets do not regularly take responsibility for mistakes and intentionally publish inaccurate information.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.