Between 2000 and 2012, opioid painkiller prescriptions rose by an alarming 270%. Fatal overdose rates were twice the previous national average, and veterans were twice as likely to die from opioid overdose. The Wall Street Journal blames the Nineties prescription epidemic.
Opioids are also fueling heroin addiction, as users build tolerance to milder painkillers. Half of vets who were involved in Middle East conflicts report chronic pain, so the problem is dire for more than one reason. Alternative therapies such as physiotherapy and off-label prescriptions can help greatly. Opioids should not be the first port of call.
Signs of Addiction
Dependency and addiction are different things. The former refers to a physical set of symptoms, which arise in response to tolerance of the drug. If you have a dependence, your body has become so used to your painkillers that you will develop side effects when you stop using them, so your body may need help to wean off opioids safely. Since you will also crave opioids when you stop, it’s important to get professional support.
In contrast, substance abuse disorder includes these symptoms:
- Repeated failure to fulfill social, work, and family obligations.
- Repeated use that puts you in harm’s way.
- Recurrent legal problems.
- Continued use even though social and physical problems are exacerbated by it.
Opiate dependency can cause rebound pain and mood swings. As a vet, it might also exacerbate PTSD. This raises your odds of a fatal overdose, which is why opioid addiction among veterans has produced such startling effects.
Military-specific help is available for counseling to support recovery from addiction or psychiatric-behavioral issues. However, your chronic pain treatment partner is also core to your recovery. Pain Stop Clinics will cope with your symptoms without over-prescribing painkillers. You deserve reduced pain that doesn’t have negative consequences.