And a study released Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that OEF/OIF veterans with PTSD were more likely to be prescribed pain killers and are at higher risk of abuse or misuse of the drugs. After studying more than 141,000 veterans who were prescribed pain medication within a year of entering the VA health care system, the study found opioids were prescribed for:
- 17.8% of vets with PTSD
- 11.7% of vets with mental health diagnoses but not PTSD
- 6.5% of vets with no mental health diagnosis
The research points to the need for doctors to use caution when treating veterans who need pain relief but who also have mental health or substance-use disorders. Even in the civilian population, abuse of opioid medications has skyrocketed, with increased rates of addiction and overdose deaths.
But, the authors noted: “Most VA primary care clinicians lack specialized training in the management of co-morbid pain and PTSD.”
You can read the JAMA abstract from the study HERE.