It’s been about 20 years since the opioid epidemic started. Appalachia has been called ground zero for this crisis, and the mountain state leads the country in drug overdose deaths. This episode of Inside Appalachia explores how the epidemic is affecting veterans, who are twice as likely to become addicted to opioids, compared with the general, or civilian, population. So some veterans are trying some alternatives to taking opioids for their chronic pain.
Shift in Medical Community Affects Veterans with Chronic Pain
For the past three years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun implementing new pain management recommendations for treating veterans with chronic pain. In 2013 the VA released a new set of guidelines called The Opioid Safety Initiative, which concluded that opioids are not the best treatment for most types of chronic pain. Instead, VA doctors are encouraged to prescribe alternative therapies, like yoga, physical therapy, and chiropractic care.
Yoga and Other Alternative For Pain
How are veterans reacting when they’re prescribed yoga or physical therapy to treat their pain?
We hear from veterans who struggle with chronic pain, how they are dealing with it, and what the VA is doing to help them manage their pain by encouraging alternative treatments instead of opioid therapy. This shift is due in part to a growing body of research showing veterans are at risk of becoming addicted to opioids.
Post-Traumatic Stress and Opioid Addiction
Earlier this year, The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania released a report that concludes there is a causal link between post-traumatic stress disorder and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Listen to the episode to hear what this could mean for veterans seeking help for their pain management.
Music in today’s show was provided by Creeks Don’t Rise, Dinosaur Burps, Marisa Anderson, Larry Dowling, Ben Townsend, and Heroes are Gang Leaders. Patrick Stephens is our audio mixer. Roxy Todd helped produce. Jesse Wright is our executive producer. He also edited our show this week.
We’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.