More than 64,000 Americans have died of opioid overdoses in the last 12 months alone, and many of those victims were veterans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. Such drugs are prescribed to combat chronic pain that comes with battlefield injuries. The result, according to Reuters, is that veterans are twice as likely as civilians to die from accidental opioid overdoses. That translates to a lot of soldiers.
As Reuters puts it, “Opioid drug abuse has killed more Americans than the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam wars combined.”
This Veteran’s Day, veterans’ advocates are focusing on how to raise awareness of the issue. Read more here and call your member of Congress to ask him or her to revive the Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator John McCain, a veteran. The bill would make it easier for the Veterans Administration to find alternatives to opioids for people in pain, which experts say is an important first step to fighting the opioid crisis and helping veterans.