Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Army Finds It's Part of Opioid-Abuse Epidemic

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Government and private surveys over the last few years have documented a burgeoning crisis involving abuse of prescription medications, particularly opioid pain relievers. In fact, opioid overdose is now the second-leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S., second only to motor-vehicle crashes, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to label pharmaceutical opioid overdose a national epidemic.

And now the U.S. Army has acknowledged that it has no immunity from the opioid-abuse epidemic. The Associated Press reported on July 11 that the Army has a new policy of limiting the number of prescription pain medications a soldier can receive at one time and may discipline those who violate the policy. Last November the Army limited soldiers to a 30-day supply, down from the 60- to 90-day supply that was more common. Then last month the Army announced that soldiers who are found to be using prescription pain medications for more than six months after they were prescribed were at risk of being disciplined. The goals are to have soldiers who are in pain see their physicians more frequently as well as to improve medication safety.

To read more about the epidemic of opioid abuse sweeping the country and strategies for limiting it, see Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/10/34.1.full and http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/11/18.2.full


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