With soaring rates of addiction resulting from the prevailing opioid crisis, studies suggest that mental health problems and substance abuse are increasingly colliding with each other at complex junctures. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are written on an average day in the country. The victims of opioid addiction range from all sections of society, including war veterans who abuse prescription painkillers to escape from the worrisome reality looming over their heads.
As of March 2015, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that about 60 percent of personnel of armed forces returning from the Middle East and 50 percent of older veterans from previous deployments grappled with chronic pain nationwide.
Experts say the acute pain experienced by soldiers aggravate their mental health problems, triggering a surge in suicide rates in the U.S. Data from the VA suggests that roughly 20 veterans committed suicide daily nationwide in 2014. Unfortunately, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) exacerbated by substance abuse is the main cause of veteran suicides because the victims fail to seek timely professional help.
Fighting the menace with effective software
Veterans in America visit several doctors for routine check-ups and consultations to manage painful conditions at 144 VA medical centers and 1,221 outpatient facilities across the country. Visits to several physicians can result in getting prescriptions for multiple conditions, which could produce synergistic effects. In fact, experts say that one of every three unintentional overdoses involving veterans is due to a combination of opioids and benzodiazepines.
Therefore, the best way to take control of such a situation is to ensure that the VA uses decision support software to monitor doctors’ prescriptions and curb polypharmacy. Such software is currently deployed in VA hospitals to provide real-time electronic surveillance and regulate treatment-related decisions. However, only 15 percent of VA medical centers have access to the software. One of the major advantages of decision-support software in VA hospitals and medical centers is that it can alert medical staff about veteran populations vulnerable to addiction, ensuring that such individuals are given medicines judiciously.
Moreover, the software would facilitate efficient tracking and management of opioids to reduce rates of addiction and suicide among veterans. For instance, the use of the software at the San Antonio VA medical center has shown a 23 percent reduction in unwanted prescription drug problems and a medical care savings of $2.47 million in the first year.
Originally observed as “Armistice Day” in 1919, the 11th of November was designated as a national holiday beginning in 1938 in honor of all American veterans for their selfless service to the nation. In 1954, the day was renamed as the Veterans Day. In the light of the opioid epidemic and the resulting mental health crisis, on this Veterans Day, the real service to our American heroes would be to alleviate their misery by addressing untreated chronic pain and substance addiction problems.
Dual diagnosis is treatable
The valiant men and women, who have fought many battles for the U.S., in reality continue to fight many battles within themselves. Though they appear rough on the exterior, inside them is a world of chaos. The VA says that more than two of 10 veterans battling severe trauma and suicidal tendencies also struggle with substance use disorders. In fact, war veterans resort to alcohol or other substances as a means to self-medicate the physical as well as mental agony, resulting from tragic memories of combat trauma. The need of the hour is to ensure access to behavioral health treatment and services for all our veterans.
Sovereign Health of San Clemente offers a variety of customized treatments for dual diagnosis in California to identify the underlying causes of the ailments and prescribe tailor-made therapies based on the patient’s requirements. Additionally, patients can also opt for alternative therapeutic activities to embark on the journey to wellness. If you or your loved one is suffering from dual diagnosis, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives to avail our best residential dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.