Opiate Stream Runs Strong in VA, More Access to Alternative Therapies Promised

With media attention focusing on an increasing opiate incidence within the Veterans Administration, there is a call for alternative therapies, including chiropractic. Resorting to prescription painkillers rather than seeking other options is creating havoc, with addiction, suicide, and overdose skyrocketing. The VA has responded with a new Opioid Safety Initiative to address this issue, saying it will increase access to alternative therapies.

One of the goals at Midway Chiropractic is to aid in pain relief and offer alternatives to opiate painkillers. We are pleased to see that this attention to the overload of prescriptions within the VA may help open the door for further treatment options for those who have served in the armed forces.

This in-depth coverage by the Center for Investigative Reporting paints a disturbing picture. In 2012, the VA prescribed over 6.5 million opiates including hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine. That is a 270% increase since 2001, far exceeding the increase in the number of patients. CIR reports that the average prescriptions for these painkillers is more than one per patient.

With only 39 chiropractors and 115 pain specialists (one for every 50,000 patients) in the United States, veterans are reporting that their maladies, including physical discomfort, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder are over-prescribed with painkillers rather than seeking alternative approaches for care and well-being.

This ABC story outlines a veteran’s frustration with the VA’s handling his case. After a difficult addiction to painkillers after being injured during his service, he was eventually treated by a doctor who found that a spinal cord stimulator was effective for his pain by sending small amounts electric current up his spine.