The health care problems facing active-duty soldiers and returning veterans have been well-documented over the last few years. Soldiers and veterans are facing one problem, however, that can likely be controlled before it is too late. Both active-duty soldiers and veterans are abusing prescription drugs at unprecedented levels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drug abuse has already reached epidemic levels. That assessment of the situation is not surprising given the general attitude toward treating injured troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 10 years. The military’s health care system was recently described as being “awash in prescription drugs.”
According to representatives from the Obama administration, the use of prescription medication must be monitored. This monitoring must not only be a national system, but also include the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as there are so many veterans abusing prescription drugs. Over the next 5 years, the administration seeks to reduce such drug abuse by 15%.
The administration plans on meeting that goal by using prescription drug monitoring programs. These programs allow doctors to quickly search a national database to ensure their patient is not “doctor shopping.” A previous decision by the VA General Counsel does not allow VA hospitals to participate in these programs. There is legislation currently being considered that would allow VA medical centers to actively take part in such programs.
Both the VA and the Department of Defense have conducted drug surveys confirming the unfortunate extent of the problem of soldiers and veterans self-medicating with prescription drugs. According to officials, there are more fatal overdoses from prescription drugs than from heroin and cocaine combined.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from Veterans Help Group is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-855-855-8992.