Helping Veterans respond to an opioid overdose


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In 2016, more than 46 people died every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids.  Today, 40 percent of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

Throughout April, VA Women’s Health Services (WHS) is bringing awareness to opioid risks, promoting best practices for the safe use of opioids, and providing education for overdose-reversal Naloxone Kits, informing women Veterans how to respond to an opioid overdose in the event of an emergency.

WHS is sharing these important messages about overdose prevention and practicing safe use:

Don’t Mix. Do not mix opioids with alcohol, Benzodiazepines sometimes called “benzos” (Xanax, Ativan, Valium), or any medication that causes drowsiness.  Know the color, shape, size, and name of your prescription opioid.  Talk to your provider about co-prescription safety.

Don’t Share. An opioid dose prescribed to you could cause an overdose if shared with another person.  Do not share your medication with anyone else.

Opioids Poster, detailing some information about Naloxone

Take as Directed. Take opioid medication exactly as directed.  Taking too much of your opioid medication can cause you to pass out or stop breathing, resulting in brain damage or even death.

Consult your Provider. If you stop taking your prescription opioid, even for a few days, taking the dose that you consume regularly could cause an overdose.  Check in with your VA provider throughout the duration of your opioid use to ensure you are practicing safe use.

Reverse an overdose with Naloxone

A prescription opioid overdose can be fatal and requires immediate emergency attention.  Knowing the signs of an opioid overdose and how to use a Naloxone Kit can help save a life.

For additional information and VA online resources


Author: Women’s Health Services

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

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Comments

  1. Jon W Sterner    

    Can a Vet get kit from VA pharm?

  2. Bw Jackson    

    I have been taking hydrocodone for 17 years for my knee and hip pain and I’m also a veteran. They are cutting my pain meds because they want to help vets. It will not help and it will drive vets to illegal and more dangerous drug. They do not have the right to tell me or any other vets what is better for them,they are not the ones who suffer with chronic pain. In my case I have a bed ridden wife who I take care of and need the pain meds to help me work so I can take care of my wife, her meds are very expensive and without me working she could very easy die. They are hurting vets who suffer with chronic pain and need those to lead a somewhat normal life. They are not our Doctors so they don’t know what we need. Want to help vets leave us alone and let us have our meds want to hurt vets then cut our pain MEDS and watch the increase in illegal drug’s the VA is letting our vets down maybe they should get bigger kick back from med COMPANY then they will let us alone.

  3. KBL    

    These drugs are putting Doctors and patients between a rock and a hard place, so the saying goes. Because not all patients can be linked into one mold. Yes some are abusing the drugs but most aren’t—so let each doctor deal with their patients on a one to one basis. I’m not only talking about Vets but people in general, the drug problem on the street is because those that really need it can’t get it legally and therefore don’t have anyone to help them regulate their use—–Dr. need to be in charge not insurance company’s or any institution as a whole.

    1. Anthony Fentress    

      We are having major issue’s with what you are saying. Its a knee jerk reaction. But… they will give all the fetenyal or morphine, ect.. No common sense.. Good luck and i’m praying for you brother even if you don’t believe, what do you have to lose??? Gain? everything.

      1. Jim B.    

        Could you expand on this comment? example: who is “they”?

  4. Joseph r cina jr    

    I have been taking 30 mg of OxyContin for 12 years, I have never even come close to an overdose. I take my meds as directed. I have had 4 back surgery’s with screws , Spinal stenosis , witch progressively gets worse. If I don’t get my meds what other records do I have except to get them underground. The drug dealers win and I and we lose. Stop this bull(redacted) and do not take our meds away. Just saying

  5. Chester Smith    

    This is the typical situation when politicians decide about something that they have no real knowledge about. I have had 6 spine surgeries: including 2 lumbar fusions and a 3 vertebrae cervical fusion. Both knees have been replaced but one of them is very painful and I have ripped tendons in both shoulders that they tell me require reverse shoulder replacements. Opioids are the only thing that can dull the pain. Thankfully my VA doctor understands this but I wonder how long he will be allowed to prescribe them. We are responsible vets who need help to lead our lives productively.

  6. Sherry Martin    

    Cutting a Veterans medication out is not an answer to this problem, I suffer from chronic pain, depression and anxiety, if I can’t gain control of one the other is worse. I have been taken off my anxiety and depression meds, never was allowed pain medication. But as long as the anxiety was under control the pain I could deal with. Now I have nothing and no control of either pain or anxiety. So dear government how are you gonna resolve this? In my heart I feel like there will be a lot of veterans committing suicide because they can’t handle the pain, depression and anxiety. If you talk to a therapist they will tell you that all 3 feed off each other. So please help us, we were there when you needed us.

  7. Sam Collins    

    Please share if they have come up with something to replace opioid for chronic pain. They always talk about opioid killing people, but they never say anything about a solution. What about us cancer patients? We need something for pain. No one OD’s on marjuana. It works but if we use it to stay safe we could be arrested or loose our VA benefits. Research has been done all over the world. I just don’t know why they have given the sick something that is dangerous for pain but they won’t allow us to have marijuana which is much safer. They have pills that are made of marijuana to stop sickness during chemotherapy. Why not pain? Thank you maybe you can write an article on the future of marijuana for medical use.

    1. Pratt Christopher D.    

      Well said, Sam. None of it makes sense to me.

  8. John GILL    

    All well and good recognizing there’s an opioid problem. I’m v. willing to try alternatives (I average 15 mg oxycodone or 5mg x 3 a day), however the alternative Rx the VA wanted to prescribe, pregabalin (LYRICA) or gabapentin (GRALISE), I found after doing a little research* seemed no better and maybe riskier than the oxycodone. I’ve been in discussion with my primary care physician re. what I found he responded in my subsequent appt. that my info (web site) was unreliable I asked if he would point me to where he found this info, to which he provided this site , I couldn’t locate anything negative, I emailed him back stating this and am now waiting for a reply.
    So yes, there’s an opioid problem, however going after “low hanging fruit” and having a knee jerk non evidence based response is not the way to resolve it.

    *
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  9. John GILL    

    Looks like my prior comment does not allow URL’s to be posted, in that case google “worst pills” it’s part of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group and search for the aforementioned Rx’s.

  10. John GILL    

    The site my MD cited is pubmed dot gov .

    1. Sherry Martin    

      A government regulated web site. Hummmmm

  11. Eric Roberts    

    How about actually treating those of us that have a legitimate need for opioids properly and start treating pain fully instead f this half-assed BS. I have been taking opioids (hydrocodone and, now, oxycodone) for close to 20 years. When my tolerance got high enough to the hydrocode that the dosage was not helping anymore, my now former doctor’s response was to take them away completely with no replacement until my tolerance levels went down. WTF is wrong with you all? You think that completely dropping pain meds in a chronic pain patient without replacing them is causing no harm. Are you just pulling people off of the street and labeling them as doctors or something? This is not acceptable at all. Note that he is a former doc. So then I demand a new doc…unfortuantely my choices are limited at the clinic I have to go to. When i didn’t like the next one, I was threatened with getting assigned one of the other docs at the clinic who doesn’t believe in giving pain meds. Doesn’t believe in giving pain meds? Are you fracking kidding me? I don’t give a crap what he believes or doesn’t believe…he is a doctor and I expect him to do his fracking job…not push whatever lame ass crusade he is on. Being a doctor isn’t a platform for your stupid beliefs. When i complained to the Patient Advocate, they really didn’t do a whole lot. That office went downhill quick after the previous PA retired…he did a great job and actually advocated for the patients. These nimrods seem to advocate for the doctors and the hospital instead of doing their jobs and advocating for the patient. The VA is really failing in its responsibilities to veterans. Why are both my former doctor, my new one, and this other doctor who “doesn’t believe in pain meds” still practicing medicine? They should have malpractice suits filed against them and their licenses revoked. I don’t trust my new doctor at all. When I asked about medical MJ, all of a sudden I am treated like a criminal and I am getting drug tested and my new doc wanted to force me to bring in my meds so she could count them “to make sure I was taking them properly”. Yeah…that was being fed a line of BS…what happened to the patient Bill of Right. Or does that only apply to non-chronic pain patients? I stood my ground and said no…I am not going to follow that and that i demand respect. She then threated to stop treating me and stop prescribing my medications. I am forced to go to that clinic and I cant make the drive to Hines VAMC because I live 60 miles away from Hines. I feel like I am being held hostage. Why would I bring up anything sensitive or if i ever got involved in illicit drugs and needed help? I don’t trust that she would actually help me…just that she would report me so that punitive actions get taken. There is no patient-doctor trust going on because these doctors don’t know how to be doctors? You all treat us like crap then get surprised when we have had enough and blow up on you all. Well, get used it. Keep screwing us over and keep treating us like crap and expect to get a very loud and foul language based tirade. You want us to treat you with respect, then start treating us with some respect. Respect is earned not given. Who the hell is teaching these VA docs this BS? Did you all forget the part of the Hippocratic Oath that commands that you do no harm? Without my pain meds, I cannot function. I can barely function with them because my pain is undertreated. I don’t sleep at night because I can’t get comfortable because the pain is not treated properly. They say that they are afraid i am going to get addicted. Who fracking cares if I get addicted??? I am going to be on these drugs for the rest of my life. It’s not like I am just going to be on them for a few months then I would have to deal with withdrawals because I am addicted. I am going to be taking these until my last breath. The Army broke my body…the US government has an obligation to either fix it or treat me so that I am at least not in pain. I can barely stand up long enough to prepare meals. I can’t stand up long enough to do dishes or clean the house. I am pretty much stuck in bed because it is too painful to do anything. It is why I am now a little over 500 lbs and then they have the nerve to tell me I need to lose weight. No crap Sherlock. Maybe if you would treat my pain properly I could exercise and lose weight…or if you would have done surgeries on my knees 30 years ago when I first enquired about it, all; of this could have been avoided as I would have been ablet o remain active. Now, as a result, I have damage to my hips and back that cause incredible amounts of pain that you all don’t seem to know how to properly treat. You all need to get your act together and start doing your jobs and start properly treating your patients and start treating us with the respect we deserve as Veterans of the US Military and stop treating us like criminals or feeble-minded idiots who can’t manage our own pain meds. I know I have had enough. I have no desire to go to appointments because I have no faith that the time spent is going to be worth it.

  12. Neil King    

    Opioids are the only meds that help my chronic pain. Can’t take nsaids due to stomach issues. So, what do officials expect us to do? Those of us who need the drugs are being thrown under the bus because a few vets have abused the meds.

  13. Parkhill Times    

    I would like to voluntary. How can I participate in geno research?

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