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Bipartisan Support for House Bill Aimed at Curbing Opiate Addiction Among Veterans

The Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act passed in the House of Representatives in May 2018 with bipartisan support, with only two of 379 voting representatives opposing the legislation. If the bill, HR 3832, passes in the Senate, it could further help medical providers at VA care facilities to recognize veterans who are either struggling with opioid abuse or vulnerable to addiction.

The bill seeks to prevent VA-licensed healthcare providers from prescribing opioids to a patient before accessing information about the patient from state programs that monitor prescription drug use. This would allow doctors to avoid over-prescribing painkillers or other potentially dangerous substances and encourage addicted veterans to seek professional medical help.

Opioid abuse among veterans is a serious problem. According to Reuters, veterans die from accidental opioid overdoses at double the rate of non-veterans. The news service also reported that the VA treated approximately 68,000 veterans for opioid addiction between March and November 2017 alone. Veterans may become addicted to painkillers after receiving prescriptions to help treat injuries or chronic pain resulting from military service or civilian activities. Others may turn to opioids to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental or emotional health problems.

The Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act was sponsored in the House by Rep. Neil Dunn of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District and moved to consideration by the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Whether or not the bill passes is still to be decided. However, Congress has passed the VA MISSION Act of 2018, which also requires VA health professionals to take steps toward safer prescribing practices.

It’s important to know that if you are a veteran struggling with opioid addiction, the VA can provide treatment. And we can help you access that care.

At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we are passionate about protecting and supporting service members and their families. Our accomplished attorneys represent veterans who seek VA benefits to help them cope with military injuries and illnesses, including struggles with addiction to painkillers. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 866-866-VETS or contact us online. We represent veterans across the country.

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    — Michele DeZayas

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