Study backs long-term benefits of non-drug pain therapy

Research team reviewed records of more than 140,000 Veterans


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A study by VA researchers and colleagues found that non-drug therapies given to service members with chronic pain may reduce the risk later in life of adverse outcomes like substance use disorders and suicide attempts.

Dr. Esther Meerwijk with the VA Palo Alto Health Care System was the lead author. Her team reviewed the VA health records of more than 140,000 former Army soldiers. All had reported chronic pain after deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

“Chronic pain is associated with adverse outcomes, such as substance use and suicidal thoughts and behavior,” Meerwijk says. “It made sense that if non-drug treatments are good at managing pain, their effect would go beyond only pain relief.”

Controlling for variables

The researchers controlled for several variables. Among them were length of care in VA, whether the Veteran had been exposed to non-drug therapies in VA, and the number of days a VA patient received opioids. They also tested to see if those who received non-drug treatments were healthier to begin with.

It’s possible, says Meerwijk, that soldiers who received non-drug therapies didn’t have to rely as much on opioids. “We may also be seeing a genuine effect of non-drug therapies that occurs regardless of whether soldiers use opioids or not. If non-drug treatments make chronic pain more bearable, people may be more likely to have positive experiences in life. That makes them less likely to have thoughts of suicide or to turn to drugs.”

“It made sense that if non-drug treatments are good at managing pain, their effect would go beyond only pain relief.”

Chronic pain is often managed with opioids. Especially at higher doses and longer duration, the drugs have been linked to higher risk of substance use disorder and self-inflicted injuries, such as opioid overdose and suicide attempts.

Study didn’t consider treatments individually

Examples of the non-drug therapies Veterans had received in the service include acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic care, massage, and exercise therapy.

Because the study was based only on past treatment data and didn’t include a randomized clinical trial, it doesn’t show cause and effect—only an association. Another limitation: The researchers didn’t look at specific non-drug therapies to gauge the extent to which they may have contributed—or not—to the overall finding.

“We didn’t look at effects of individual non-drug therapies. We treated them as one,” says Meerwijk. “Most likely, only some of the therapies that we included are responsible for the effect that we reported, whereas others may have had no effect at all, assuming there’s no other variable that explains our findings.”

In the photo above, Capt. Israel Orengo is evaluated by physical therapist Tyler Snow at Madigan Army Medical Center in 2015.

Read more about the study on the VA Research website.

Author

Mike Richman

Mike Richman is on detail as a public affairs specialist in VA’s Office of Media Relations. He’s also a writer and editor in VA Research Communications. He joined VA in 2016.

Comments

  1. Petra Wagner    

    This article is another example of the ignorance and insults we as veterans have to deal with at VA! I’m also a mental health professional and used to be astounded at the inordinate amounts of opiof Rx my clients were being given like they were candy. Opioids have very useful applications in chronic pain management IF used responsibly, which does also depend on the individual patient. But the blanket generalized, far too vague guidelines VA likes to apply to any type of chronic-illness management, are downright unethical and ignore complete the significant amount of peer reviewed evidence base for the various mifalities available for pain management in chronic illness. Opioid are necessary for many, period. Others do best with “complementary and alternative” modalities like Acupuncture – I certainly rid. Gave me back my hope for being able to actually live again (autoimmune diseases courtesy of the Army and grossly mismanaged since original diagnosis which was made by my own father a doctor just by looking at labs and symptoms!) without the incessant, 24-hour pain. After about 9 months in Acupuncture, I was able to go without the debilitating migraines, vertigo, brutal nausea, for up to 2 weeks (vs 3 migraines per week at 2 days per migraine) – and VA denied the reauthorization. Helped with the Fibro pain, with the crushing chronic fatigue, all over pain and mobility levels but had taken a while to get there – well when there is consistent mismanagement for 20 years, there are inevitable multi systemic damages! It’s been since last August and I have had exactly ZERO answer as to WHY it keeps being denied, the one modality that truly worked for me. Patient advocates are useless and defer to va.gob, which has been equally USELESS. Community Care also has ZERO answers to the specific properly listed question I’ve been asking since last August re: reasons for denial, which regulation covers this, who is the POC to speak to. Primary care doc (the latest “new” one who is again leaving for a better job after 6 months on the job, after one of the many other periods of about 9 months without an assigned primary care doc, the ever revolving door of VA Primary care with zero continuity, huge redundancies and ZERO CARE for the veteran patient, months, years, list out of my life trying to get somewhere and having to constantly start at the beginning with each new doctor – stop the bloody madness, waste of time for veterans and the doctors!!!!) says to “just resubmit and wait for they come back with”. I keep being given the same exact reply that I had last year which said only that it was not an authorized benefit anymore, NOTHING ELSE. I’m about to hand this to the Director of Central Texas VA and to my elected officials. Iv been repeatedly dismissed belittled, ignored, ridiculed and treated as a nuisance by doctors and staff for having the nerve to be a patient there with multiple chronic illnesses and conditions that don’t fit conveniently into the blanket VA boxes that we are all supposed to fit in, or the bull crap flow chart for treatment access (like being told, “you have to try all these things and Rx forst before they’ll even consider anything else”, by the doctor and nurses). VA in itself implies, or should, that any person employed there, especially, doctors should be aware that veterans are a unique population with very unique, often accelerated/exacerbated symptom pictures even at younger ages than in the civilian populations – BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE RIGORS OF MILITARY SERVICE! There are plenty of studies available for one who gives a crap to actually look, to ascertain this, yet mist doctors don’t seem to give a flying crap and CONSISTENTLY treat us, veterans, as though we’re whiners, all lie to get more benefits or exaggerate out pain levels to get more medications, and surely it cannot possibly be that bad, right? There is total disconnect from patient to doctor because doctors already have a strong bias before they even meet with you the first time. Then they have no time to actually address more than “1 or 2 symptoms” (never mind trying to get to causes in order to avoid constant symptom treatment without ever resolving the deeper issue and this perhaps avoiding veterans being forced to keep coming back for the same things trat after year, and being treated like crap for it!), veteran is told to “make another appointment which is usually months in the future and may get cancelled and then rescheduled for another several months from then, the veteran has been waiting to hopefully get to the other 8 symptoms to be addressed for a year or more, then the whole thing repeats and I use years of my life with ever worsening chronic illness and chronic pain – what is this supposed to do? There are modalities that work allow us ACCESS to those that are DEMONSTRATED TO Work individually (eg Acupuncture!) and don’t cut them off when they are work g. It is an utter INSULT to us veterans to be treated like idiots, like we are unedcitated and no know thing about our bodies. VA is also adhering to many paradigms, especially as related to autoimmune disease, chronic pain management, Lyme disease, that are 40 years or more Outdated and are unwilling to adopt the amazing newer (read: last 10 or so years) research and evidence based approaches to treat the veteran population WHICH OS THE SOLE REASON FOR THEIR JOBS AT VA and their inability to ever be penalized or fired regardless of how shitty they are. I have a MBA and see countless opportunities for VA to improve multiple processes and dynamics in various ways, to allow. More effective and efficient use of VA HR and monies to actually serve veterans – but when suggested to nurses or staff to speak up and suggest to the Director or national management (which decides everything regardless of regional disparities) I’ve been told countless times that “we do speak up but they don’t hear us, they dismiss us just as they do you, it’s no use”. So the systemic dysfunction is perpetuated, comoaunded by crappy IT choices and contracts that spell disaster from the start. But veterans are great political fodder when it’s election time, right? Politicians, give a crap about us instead of using us to get elected. We deserve this.
    And the bull crap about “preventing veteran suicide”? Pay bloddy attention to what veterans tell you at appointments instead of dismissing them, because chronic pain can definitely cause one to want to no longer live. Tonnes of research on 5his…USE IT and give us Access to vakufayed treatment, whether that is opiods, other medication management or commentary modalities. I’m so sick of being treated like I don’t matter, like I’m nothing but a nuisance every time I have to walk into the Yeme, TX, VA. It’s disturbing when I’m relieved that an appointment is cancelled so that I don’t have to deal with the lies that have been in my records, contested, and ignored. LIES, OMISSIONS, stuff that sounds like someone made it up. Where is the way for me to PRIVE THE LIES IN MY RECORDS? We should be allowed to record our visits because let’s nit forget the gross disparities in what we are TOLD by docs in appointments, vs what SHOWS UP IN OUR RECORDS. Which are used to decide the ridiculous DEBIALS OF CLAIMS. FILED. See the insanity of this system?

  2. James Sherman    

    I absolutely agree that some NON Veteran wrote some study to become a psychologist and now it’s gospel. The va is doung the same thing with Valium. I use 2.5mg/day for sleep and anxiety management. “now” they tell me “due to my age” I have to stop it’s use. Over the years, (since Vietnam in 68 to 71) the va guinee pigged me on so many trials I lost count. I am in a pharmaceutical argument right now as they now, once again, eant to mess with my formulary and for me to reduce valium to nothing. At 71 years old and a guinee pig I tell them NO MORE of “Let’s Try This, crap” SFC Sherman 1968 to 1971. St Cloud, Mn

  3. Vicki Isleman    

    I am not a veteran, but have had my body trashed by car vs bike (me on bike), numerous rear end collisions and a very active life style. My husband is a veteran, so I get these bulletins. I can feel your pain. Much of what you describe I suffer with and have for 20+ years. Never drank, smoked or used illegal substances, but I am sick of the CDC, FDA & (as you put it) “other assorted fools” that think they can begin to imagine our individual pain scales (I also had a really bad birth experience, so I know that pain as well). Each of us experience our own pain and to some getting a root canal is the worst pain they can imagine, I had most of my teeth broken or knocked out after my last car rear end accident and had a ton of dental work, my neck was fused with titanium plates to hold my brain stem back on to my spine and my lower back was already trashed. The nerve pain becomes unbearable and all the muscles, tendons & ligaments start shooting out referred pain from just about every place. They can’t “fix” what I pushed aside starting at an early age and that compounds the entire mess. I won’t compare pain with anyone. Each of us is different, but age does exacerbate the entire mess. I am happy to keep it at my 3-4 pain level, that I can live and function with (there are still really bad days, but I can take care of myself at 62. And I’ve already come close to shooting out my kidney’s on Ibuprophen & acetimenofen to try and stay off opioids but I couldn’t dress myself or keep clean clothes, etc. etc. That is not a life worth living! I am open to all sorts of alternative therapies that I had gotten as a grad student at UCLA, but no insurance covers that stuff any longer. I know the VA can offer many options that private citizens can’t get, but most of us are in the same boat as far as the CDC & FDA. I think pain makes me think of suicide far more often than having it just barely under control, yet “they” think we are more apt to become addicted and suicidial with the meds. I am only 5′, but a stocky 165 lbs, with meds I can take walks, be more active, swim and do low impact exercises. It my pain went up, I would just drop in bed. I hope you and I can find answers one way or another. Take care!

  4. Naija Music    

    One thing is fact, These medications don’t relieve all the pain but it relieves enough to let pain patients semi function and have some sort of life.At what point do patients get to quit being guinea pigs

    1. Richard Hoffman    

      I feel for you. Here is my post: Another Bull Study by the “crooked” VA They say that long term treatment with opioids causes suicide thoughts; maybe in 3% of cases. It’s the other way around; Removing Veterans who were treated successfully with pain medication for a long period of time (1 year or more) have a much higher risk of suicide when they are denied continued opioid treatment. So listen VA – Stop the bull and look at the facts. How much longer must Veterans suffer because of improper treatment from the VA? The longer nothing is done about this – the more Veterans will end their lives because of a treatment some Veterans truly need for some quality of life. And for those of you who disagree with this and have never been in the Veteran’s boots. Please do not comment on something that you know very little about. Ask a Veteran who has been there. If he’s still around.

  5. matt saunders    

    Here I am on another sleepless night due to my chronic pain related to a neck injury that went misdiagnosed/ignored by the Army for 9yrs. Even through my med boards & initial intake by the VA no 1 would listen so I went to an outside Dr. In less than a week from my 1st visit I had an MRI, had a stat appt with a neurosurgeon, & had my neck fused. My spinal canal in my neck had narrowed significantly & the opening for the right branch of my C5 nerve was less than 30% resulting in permanent nerve damage to the.point the neurosurgeon was amazed I hadn’t lost any motor function. Unfortunately because of the yrs of untreated pain neighboring nerves were basically “recruited” to feel the same neverending 24/7 burning, like when your hand falls asleep but at least 10 times worse. I’ve had this from the back of my neck down to the bottom of my shoulder blades then down through both shoulders to the tips of my fingers for ~30yrs. Being that I was a line medic with a light infantry unit I of course have a messed up back with severe sciatic pain from my lower back down to my big toe. I’ve seen numerous pain specialists & gone through countless treatment programs. Chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupunture, acupressure, biofeedback, self hypnosis, psychiatric counseling, massage therapy, TENS, assorted surgeries, a crappy spinal cord stimulator (was great when it worked but kept malfunctioning so had 5 surgeries to repair/replace it before I said enough), & countless different drug cocktails. We finally land on a combination that helped (max dose lyrica, max dose baclofen, doxepin at night to help block pain so I could sleep, & 15mg of methadone 3x a day). I’ve been on methadone for my chronic pain for ~20yrs or more. Because of that & the fact I’m a large man (6’2″ & 285lbs) I could’ve easily taken a higher dose with no ill side effects. Now, due to the CDC’s poorly worded guidelines & the DEA’s overzealous misuse of said guidelines as a means to bolster their arrest & conviction numbers I’m down to 5mg 3x a day. For 1 thing the CDC meant for those guidelines to be used by general practitioners in the treatment of acute pain patients, not chronic pain patients being treated by highly trained pain specialists. Secondly those guidelines don’t take into account a patient’s individual metabolism of the drugs, their built up tolerance, or the patient’s weight/mass. To go by their guidelines a person my size (285lbs) or larger is limited to the same maximum dosage as say a 105lb female initially treated for her chronic pain. I do everything I can to manage my pain & I’m willing to try almost anything else to alleviate or manage it. In fact I’m waiting for final approval now for another spinal cord stimulator (newer technology & definitely a different manufacturer) & I’m hoping to get that done in the next 6-8 weeks. That being said even if I get a 50% reduction in my neurological pain I’ll still be at a 4 or more for those areas & still have to endure my bad shoulder, severe arthritis, & my destroyed knee (also awaiting approval for knee replacement surgery). My current pain levels stay at an 8-9 at all times with a 10 being to the point I become physically ill & eventually pass out from the pain. My 1-10 pain scale is far different from someone whose worse pain may be a run of the mill headache. Unfortunately, the moraboute I have to live with screwed up decisions made by bureaucrats far removed from the day to day suffering of many of us, the more I believe their idea of bad pain is the aforementioned headache or a stubbed toe. Their actions & the resulting consequences for the rest of us kind of reminds me of when we got a new LT in that thought he was God’s gift to the infantry &.knew how to fix all our problems. Eventually he’d figure out we knew what we were talking about. Hopefully this happens soon here & the CDC, DEA, & other assorted fools will start listening to the real suffering patients & their Drs who only want to properly care for them.

  6. C Shrey    

    Do doctors at the Congressional VA Clinic restrict access to narcotic pain medications as doctors do at other VA clinics? Or are they treated differently? Why is there a separate Congressional Clinic in the first place? Veterans who work for the people, or on their staff, should seek VA medical care with the veterans at the VA Washington DC Clinic or at Walter Reed.

    1. Richard Hoffman    

      I feel for you. I also suffer from a service connected injury and can not get the treatment I once got because of this BS opioid crap. Here is my post: Another Bull Shit Study by the “crooked” VA They say that long term treatment with opioids causes suicide thoughts; maybe in 3% of cases. It’s the other way around; Removing Veterans who were treated successfully with pain medication for a long period of time (1 year or more) have a much higher risk of suicide when they are denied continued opioid treatment. So listen VA – Stop the bullshit and look at the facts. How much longer must Veterans suffer because of improper treatment from the VA? The longer nothing is done about this – the more Veterans will end their lives because of a treatment some Veterans truly need for some quality of life. And for those of you who disagree with this and have never been in the Veteran’s boots. Please do not comment on something that you know very little about. Ask a Veteran who has been there. If he’s still around.

  7. Joannie Herndon    

    My husband, a 70 year old Vietnam vet, has severe chronic pain caused by his exposure to Agent orange and the malaria pill forced on him every day of his enlistment. His diseases and pain is systemic and it’s not a missing limb, torn ligament, PTSD, or migraine headaches. It is not something that can be treated by massage therapy, physical therapy, injections, tens units, creams, nerve blocks, advil, NSAIDs, excercise, biofeedback or anything else but…guess what?! Every single VA Dr. needs to experience his pain for 1 day. Then they will stop the anti-Opioid bulllshit and finally NOT make him BEG for help. We always took care of his multiple chronic illnesses ourselves with insurance. So he has not been a VA patient until WE DISCOVERED (not the VA but yes, US) his illness was service related. The one and only thing that with work is NARCOTICS.

  8. Gary Stephen Jones    

    I now live in Florida due to Veteran health issues, I.E. from Vietnam 1967-69 and from the chemicals. Previous to moving to Florida full time in June 2018, I lived in Wisconsin and had my primary care and speciality care through The VA hospital in twins cities. Excellent care and excellent staff including Doctors. I was put on pain meds in March 2008 by VA due to double fusion and then, 2012, Neck surgery. The hospital staff along with pharmacy did a great job after I received help from the Narcotics Renewal section. I transferred my meds down to a VA clinic in Cape Coral Fl under the supervison of VA hospital in St Petersburg Fl. First primary DR took me off one pain med and I did agree to that June 2018. In April, 2019, my primary DR
    quit the VA to go back to private practice. My pain med was renewable every 30 days. I had signed the VA form requiring my use of pain meds and sent request for a refill early April 2019 of pain med. I did not hear anything for a couple of weeks and called my primary DR, who quit VA, nurse asking about refill. She informed me I had a new primary DR who I requested the refill from, did not hear anything and through MY Health, requested a refill again. This time I received a phone call from new primary stating he woul not refill the pain meds and cut me cold turkey off them at the Cape Coral, FL.. I inquired agin about why and told by his nurse that the DR would not refill them even though I had never met this Doctor. I ended up with patient advocates from Both Cape Coral clinic and from Va hospital in St Petersburg plus the PVA and nothing was done. I asked PA at St Petersburg what drove this decision or what was the regulation. I was finally sent VIA My Health, the guidance of combination of DOD and VA titled Opid guidance. Every thing stated not to abruybly stop opid prescriptions and prior to being taken of opids, that a pain management plan was to be developed and in place prior to stopping. Then the so called DR at Cape Coral FL VA clinic startyed lying about what had happened and then put false information into my medical file. I filied a VA IG complaint about what happened and with a follow up about three weeks later with information about a vet that right in front of Cape Coral clinic that commited suicide. I question if he was one that I warned the VA IG about that suicides would increase. Well guess the VA IG did not think any of this warranted them looking into as I was never contacted by them period. Also now it is mid Jan 2020 and since Mid April 2019, I still do not have any help in pain management, and with so many others, have to suffer every day with pain. I even asked my new primary Doctor, as I would not go to the so called Doctor who cut me off cold turkey on an opid that should never be done, and since last April, 2019, she had me have MRIs and cat scans and then 3-4 months later to see a neurosurgeon to see if surgery what help, through community Care and he said NO. So I waited again not hearing anything, contacted my primary amid Dec and was informed through community care I would see a Pain Specialist through the VA hospital in St Petersburg FL and have yet to hear anything more. nor do I for 3-4 months as I had another consult through commi nity care through my primary care in early Oct and still have not seen a local DR. A large part is the VA can not get even good DRS anymore as they work them 7 days a week and for many, they can not get a job anywhere else. So to all, file a VA IG, just go under VA IG, and there will be a form to fill out and electrnocally send to IG. Also we need everyone to contact any and all congressional delegates requesting help on this issue. The VA in its garbage messages telling everyone how great they are doing, are just lie after Lie. Thank You

  9. Jane prather    

    I’ve been taking opioids on and off for 32 years due to service connected injuries and other injuries. I have to twist my VA doctors arm and threaten calling Congressman to get the pain meds that I need to function and still work. It is difficult to work in the breakthrough pain but that is what I do to make a living and keep a roof over my family’s head.
    After 32 years I am not addicted. Opioids can be dangerous for some, but one size doesn’t fit all. I would love to have time for continuous PT, meditation therapy, yoga,,,, but instead I work to make a living. Stop my opioids and I’ll be a drain on society and suicidal: The pain left unmanaged is life threatening.

  10. howard k. crosby    

    The real reason the meds were stopped, they can’t discuss.
    They never created an effective method of preventing or stopping what they call ‘diverting’ of pain meds, by employees
    or by patients.It was easier to say no to pain than to manage prescripts or control inventory or check patient use.

  11. Lyle Anderson    

    Omg…you understand what I am going through. The VA has cut my opioid prescription to the point that I have had to resort to illegal street drugs to manage my pain. I have called The VA suicide hotline more than once…I was put on hold without ever speaking to a provider. The va will not provide Chiropractic care because of metal in my spine. I have to pay out of my own pocket for Chiropractic care that I should be receiving at no charge. I waited 11 months for a dental appointment. This is the thank you I get for doing the right thing, for Volunteering to protec this country and paying a price of unending pain and suffering for doing so…..

  12. E.Bowles    

    Let’s break the researchers backs, amputate their legs, have them watch a battle buddy get killed by an IED, or any of the other injuries that we faced during our careers. Let’s see how quickly they would like to have talk therapy vice medication, or better yet, competent physicians at the VA locations to provide treatments vice talk therapy.

    1. William morley    

      Ya you deserve no respect no trust…they list me as some sort of abuser and i never have taken opioids…no respect…how many drs get pain relief? Much more than the vets of course. They really simply do not care …how ironic how sad…they say NOTHING when poppies handed out with no regard to its dignified use especially in military settings

  13. Candace Skalet    

    I’ve been getting relief from long-time chronic problems via the John Barnes method of Myofascial Release therapy. I wonder if the VA has studied this yet?

  14. DK    

    I can’t even…this article is a joke

    . I look at my husband and his chronic pain from a spinal cord injury, broken neck fused by screws and traumatic brain injury oh and let’s not forget PTSD and this is what this doctor evaluated and came to conclusion. Hey, how about a thorough study? Believe me, I’ve seen the ups and downs and my husband has lived it and still does. He wants to be free of opioids and pain medication but until the VA has top notch treatments offered and not by doctors who don’t care and don’t believe him and treat him like crap , but by actual genuine, concerned and caring doctors, it’s not happening. We’ve had the pleasure of the so-called doctors who don’t diagnose because as we were told ‘it’s above their pay grade’. Yes, this was at our local VA. Keep on writing your worthless blogs….

  15. Vanessa    

    As a chronic pain sufferer I can tell you when I dont have pain meds and cant take care of even my personal needs let alone fixing something to eat or even going to a food store can cause so much pain that you just want to die when you lose your independance it’s the worse thing in the world mentally. Then put chronic pain that stops you from getting sleep or even enjoying a hot shower. Ya it’s not a life anyone would enjoy nor sign up for. But pain meds does make it more tolerable nothing takes all the pain away but at least you can do somethings instead of sitting laying walking around 24 /7 crying your eyes out from pain and your blood pressure going up so high your brain hurts. Not giving any pain meds is just cruelty hell they even give pets and animals pain meds when needed perhaps the VA should just hire vetarnartians !! Hell race horses gets better medical care than our vets.

  16. Susan B Quinn    

    I am not a Veteran But..
    How can we keep mistreating our veterans. They are in pain from injuries defending our freedom and safety. They are given the cheapest pain medications which are often synthetic. So many commit suicide because of cruel sudden denial of their pain meds. They need both constant rehabilitation and pain meds. If pain meds are being taken from those who need it; more opioids are available for recreational use. Drug companies have the power to produce as much as they can sell because they have complete power over our medical system. They cruelly and consistently overcharge for medications many need to live. Just to look what diabetics are charged. I experienced the price of an Epi pen I have to have become so expensive I will have to put it on a credit card and make payments. Drug companies will produce opioids as long as their is a market.
    If any soldier has proven injuries by MRIs and CAT scans – why can’t they be prescribed medications they need and deserve? Their injuries do not get well.
    I also think people who had catastrophic injuries in civilian life should be carefully evaluated to see if they have injuries which need dual treatment because they will not get well. Humans do not recover from some injuries and illnesses and are in continious pain. Have we become a nation without empathy.
    I hope those who deny pain relief to our wounded warriors have at least a temporary need for pain meds. Our politicians should be drug tested daily as they have a different system and privileges from the young men they heartlessly send in harm’s way. I wish out politician leaders were intelligent enough to separate criminals from patients. Also mentally I’ll people often medicate with the wrong drugs. If care was available for them, a large sector of drug users would be eliminated, of course that is another problem our political leaders ignore.

  17. Lisa Crumpler    

    I think this article needs to talk about the real reason why veterans and soldiers are having suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Let me explain why. They are having suicidal thoughts and behaviors because a few years ago because of blanket policies to take everyone off of pain meds, an event that was spearheaded by Andrew kolodny and his group PROP, along with the CARA ( comprehensive addiction and recovery act that was put out in 2016 and the cdc.
    The va adopted the so called opioid safety initiative that consisted of tapering all of our service men and women off of opioid pain medication. One young veteran was offered a stress ball from the va as an alternative for his chronic pain. He committed suicide as a result. Some have been switched to suboxone a drug that Andrew kolodny has represented as far back as 2005. This article fails to tell how veterans are suffering tremendously who have chronic pain since these policies have been implemented.

    1. Shawn E Johnson    

      Well said! I am a veteran in Illinois, trying to get proper treatment and pain meds that actually work. These people act like the money comes out of their pocket or get bonuses for finding ways to jerk us around. Everything I tell them, they twist to make it sound like I am making it up, they have gone as far as saying a torn rotator cuff is arthritis….

  18. Brian Sinkus    

    What’s the cost of 8 treatment if P T. That’s one month. $2000-$3000 More money for Medical Corporate Interests. Pain meds BANNED. COST $60-$80 MONTH. DESPICABLE.

    1. William morley    

      They have no respect or trust in us…. Big thankyou

  19. Gretchen    

    What a crock of baloney.”We didn’t look at individualized effects of non drug therapies we treated them all as one.”Some may have had no effect” Well no kidding. Opiates do work for long term use for chronic pain..That’s why analgesics have been used for so many years.They are usually a last resort .Most people with chronic pain have tried everything under the sun from NSAIDS,surgeries,physical therapy,steroid and cortisone injections,,massage,acupuncture,nerve and facet blocks,tens units,cognitive behavioral counseling,work conditioning ,bio feedback,and many more ,etc…which doesn’t help everyone’s pain.Hence the need for something that works.And it’s scientifically proven.Prescriptions are down yet od’s are up due to illicit street drugs.Not everyone that takes medication for long term becomes an addict.These medications don’t relieve all the pain but it relieves enough to let pain patients semi function and have some sort of life.At what point do patients get to quit being guinea pigs.Take these life saving medications away and you will see suicides rise.It’s already high among our vets.I would like to hear the response from the vets that aren’t getting treatment and see what works for them.This is America and we should all have a choice in our medical care as we know what works best for our bodies..It is not a one size fits all and we need to bring individualized care back.Especially those that risked their lives for our country.

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