Last year, Americans learned of serious systemic problems facing veterans in need of healthcare. Veterans were often faced with lengthy waits to see Veterans Affairs doctors; in some cases life was lost while waiting to see a physician. We learned that there simply aren’t enough doctors to treat everyone who has served overseas, and those who were lucky enough to be treated were often times given “medication band-aids” to treat illnesses which required intensive therapies.
What’s more, in an attempt to curb the nation’s ever growing prescription drug epidemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration is requiring veterans return to their doctor every month to renew their medication, despite the fact that in many cases veterans struggle to get appointments at overburdened VA health facilities, The Washington Post reports. While the new restrictions would appear to be a step in the right direction for combating the opioid crisis among normal citizens, it is abundantly clear that for veterans the new rules are wholly unrealistic.
Veterans addicted to narcotic opioids are just one facet of the prescription drug epidemic in America. The VA reports that there are more than 500,000 veterans currently being treated with prescription opioids for injuries sustained during the lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many veterans incurred serious injuries prohibiting them from driving, coupled with living far from VA facilities. Many veterans argue that they have been taking opioids for years and have not abused the drugs, according to the article.
Making it to the VA every month is a huge obstacle, a retired staff Army sergeant who served in Iraq told the newspaper. For more than nine years, the staff sergeant who will remain anonymous has never had an addiction problem. He has to ride the bus for two hours every month to get “a one-minute consult” to renew his prescriptions.
“It’s just insulting to the veteran to assume they are abusing these drugs,” said, Linda Davis, the wife of retired Army corporal Mike Davis who was injured in maneuvers in 1979. “I’m fully aware that people doctor-shop, some docs overprescribe. But I think they need to realize that there’s a real difference between addiction and dependence.”
Unlike veteran’s, the new DEA requirements are not that big of a deal for average citizens seeing doctors at private practices.