Vets with Mental Health Issues are More Likely to Abuse Pain Killers


A new study finds that Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with a mental health disorder are more likely to abuse prescription narcotic pain killers. When these war veterans return from active duty, they are often struggling with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and are also dealing with chronic pain. With the modern advances of science/technology in active duty gear and weaponry, these veterans have a higher chance of surviving situations that in the past decades would have been fatal, which in turn increases  the number of cases of PTSD and shock related disorders along with many growing cases of traumatic brain injury, including soldiers with undiagnosed TBI’s.

The details of the study concluded the following:

  • 141,029 veterans returning from the recent wars were examined; 15,676 were prescribed opioid painkillers for 20 or more consecutive days.
  • 17.8% veterans suffering from PTSD received the painkillers/ 11.7% of veterans with a mental health disorder (excluding PTSD)/ 6.5% of veterans without any mental health conditions.
  • 33.5%  of veterans with mental health disorders including PTSD and substance abuse were more likely to be prescribed painkillers over the 6.5% of veterans with no mental health symptoms.


Physicians are prescribing oxycodone(OxyContin), hydrocodone(Vicodin) and Codeine to treat these veterans’ symptoms and in turn are putting them at higher risk for accidents (including self-inflicted injuries), overdose and numerous other serious consequences.  The study suggests that most of these veterans are seeking medical help from the VA primary care system, when these physicians are not all specialized in treatment of PTSD and pain simultaneously; although VA clinical practice guidelines suggest differently with the approach of medication and therapy.

As returning heroes for our country, society should look upon these veterans as a symbol of our country’s success thus far and should strive for the healing of all of these men and women. There are several facilities across the country that provide aid for these servicemen.With mental health and neurological rehabilitation and with proper resources, no one veteran should ever lack in the area of healing.

Click here for more information on this study.


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