6 Tuesday, October 1, 2019 19:02

Daily on Healthcare: Opioid epidemic immiserated combat veterans more than civilians

Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with whats going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! OPIOID EPIDEMIC AFFECTS COMBAT VETERANS MORE THAN CIVILIANS: Veterans returning from Afghan and Iraqi combat zones following the 9/11 terror attacks felt the brunt of the opioid epidemic as they acclimatized to civilian life, according to a new study from health economists.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut, University of Georgia, and San Diego State University reported in a study distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research that combat veterans deployed as part of the global war on terror have an opioid abuse rate about seven times higher than civilians.

In other words, the opioid crisis that has immiserated parts of the United States in recent years, costing 47,000 lives in 2017 alone, is far more acute still for veterans of the war on terror. About 46 Americans die every day of an opioid overdose, and patients in the Veterans Health Administration are almost twice as likely to die of opioid-related overdoses, writes healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison.

The grim numbers are attributable in part to treating chronic pain due to injuries in combat with opiates. Injuries sustained in combat range from shrapnel wounds and broken bones to spinal cord injuries, more often than not requiring painkillers as part of treatment and recovery. The authors of the study agree that lax monitoring of opioid prescriptions by Veterans Health Administration providers placed veterans at substantial risk for opioid abuse and fatal overdoses.

They added that next to nothing is known for sure about how U.S. policies in the global war on terrorism directly affected veterans susceptibility to opioid addiction. The studys authors write that post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects nearly one-fifth of active-duty service members, creates an increased risk of veterans abusing prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, as part of their efforts to cope with psychological pain.

Read more from Cassidy’s latest magazine piece. Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.

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. The Office of Population Affairs said.....

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