WASHINGTON, DC-- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said that like the rest of the country, a number of veterans continue to struggle with opioid addiction.
In a statement following President Trump’s remarks at a summit addressing the drug crises, Wilke said that the VA has made treating opioid abuse a priority and they've seen success, cutting the number of opioid prescriptions handed out by 51 percent.
“More than 100 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain, and the overuse and misuse of opioids for pain management in our country is taking too many lives,” Wilkie said. “Veterans who have served our nation are particularly challenged by chronic pain. VA has demonstrated success in reducing opioid use, while addressing the challenge of living well with chronic pain.”
Wilkie touted a number of improvements at the VA, saying they have put the scandal of long wait times behind them.He pointed to the success of President Trump's Mission plan, which allows veterans who don't live near a VA facility to get treatment from the private sector.
He said more than a million veterans have been sent to the private sector since June 6th. The choice program was started in 2014 after the long wait-time scandal.
The VA is also looking to alternative pain management practices. “Specifically, VA is not starting Veterans with chronic, noncancer pain on long-term opioid therapy, but is instead offering them complementary pain management strategies. These treatments include use of complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga, chiropractic medicine, tai chi and bio-feedback, among other modalities, and have proven to be more effective for Veterans long term. Veterans are 40 percent more likely to have severe, chronic pain than non-Veterans," Wilke said in the statement.