Clinical Topics


Addiction

Long-term Opioid Prescribing Declines in VHA, Bucking National Trend

Extended Prescribing Dropped from 9.5% in 2012 to 6.2% in 2016 By Brenda L. Mooney IOWA CITY, IA—Long-term prescribing of opioid painkillers is on the decline at the VA, in contrast to what appears to be happening outside of federal medicine.

Addiction

Recent Veterans’ Opioid Use Similar to U.S. Population

Despite their issues with chronic pain, veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) use opioids at about the same rate as the overall U.S. population.

Addiction

Alcohol, Drug Problems Dramatically Increase Veterans’ Suicide Risk

Solving the devastating issue of veteran suicide depends, at least partly, on being able to identify former servicemembers at the highest risk.

Addiction

Post-Deployment Factors Influence Gambling Addiction

WEST HAVEN, CT—Gambling disorder and its comorbid diagnoses are observed at higher rates in military veterans than in the general population, but a significant research gap exists regarding the relationships of veterans' life and service experiences to problematic gambling, according to a new study.

Addiction

Alcohol Abuse, PTSD Can Be Treated Simultaneously

DURHAM, NC — Many servicemembers and veterans seeking treatment for alcohol problems have experienced the life-threatening stress of combat, many have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many servicemembers and veterans seeking treatment for PTSD also have alcohol or other substance problems.

Addiction

New Soldiers’ Alcohol Abuse Linked to Mental Disorders

LA JOLLA, CA— Problem drinking that predates enlistment into military service might be a contributor to the overall burden of alcohol misuse and mental disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces, but evidence remains somewhat limited.

Addiction

Veterans Who Abuse Non-Medical Opioids Have High Risk of Using Heroin

Veterans who misuse opioid painkillers have a very high risk of also beginning to use heroin, according to a new study.

Addiction

Problem Drinking Early in Life Linked to Health Problems Decades Later

Is problem drinking among young military servicemembers a life sentence for ill health?

Addiction

Study Links Depression, Substance Abuse in Veterans

What are the patterns over time of depression, smoking, unhealthy alcohol use and other substance use among individuals receiving medical care, and when are integrated screening and treatment strategies warranted?

Addiction

White House Action Increases Opioid Prescription Monitoring at VA

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—The White House’s announcement this summer of new steps to address the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic had a mixed message for the VA: While the administration specifically praised the VA’s... View Article

Addiction

VA Explores Pain Management Alternatives to Delay Opioid Use

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—Since the rollout of the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative in 2014, the department has aggressively focused on developing non-narcotic alternatives to reduce opioid use for chronic pain. Now, attention is turning... View Article

Addiction

CDC Opioid Guidelines Could Cause Problems for VA Patients, Clinicians

Congress Is Forcing VA to Comply With ‘Voluntary’ Document By Annette M. Boyle ATLANTA — VA clinicians and their patients might find themselves in a difficult position related to proposed opioid prescribing guidelines from the... View Article

Addiction

As Opioid Prescribing Drops, VA Expands Alternative Pain Therapies

A year ago, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rolled out new restrictions on hydrocodone-based painkillers, creating a painful situation for many veterans.

Addiction

Evolution of Pioneer DCVAMC Clinic Tracks AIDS/HIV Treatment Through the Years

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON – When the first Infectious Disease Clinic took place at the Washington, DC, VAMC in 1985, only a handful of HIV-infected patients took advantage. In fact, the disease hadn’t even been... View Article

Addiction

Research Finds Unexpectedly High Rates of Pain, Opioid Use in Recently Deployed Soldiers

By Annette M. Boyle SILVER SPRING, MD – Skyrocketing prescription opioid use in the civilian population has attracted widespread medical and media attention. While the DoD and VA implemented a pain management task force in... View Article

Addiction

Navy and Marines Crack Down on Alcohol Misuse with Widespread Screening

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — If Navy leadership has anything to do with it, the misleading stereotype of the drunken sailor or hard-drinking Marine will fade into the past. Though Navy officials note that their... View Article

Addiction

No Elevated Liver Damage in Buprenorphine/Naloxone Trial

SEATTLE — Buprenorphine/naloxone (BUP) and methadone (MET) are effective in treatment of opioid dependence, but some concerns have been raised about a link between the use of BUP and drug-induced hepatitis. A new study from... View Article

Addiction

Compound Provides Noninvasive Battlefield Pain Relief

FORT BRAGG, NC — Oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (OTFC) is a rapid and noninvasive pain-management strategy that provides safe and effective analgesia in the pre-hospital battlefield setting, according to a new study.1 The authors of... View Article

Addiction

New VA, DoD Model Offers Intervention Before Drinking Becomes Out of Control

By Sandra Basu Vladimir Nacev, PhD WASHINGTON – In the past, healthcare systems typically waited until a drinker sought help for alcohol dependence before intervening. Now, a newer model encourages clinicians to engage with their... View Article

Addiction

IOM: Military Response to Substance Abuse Is Outdated, Inadequate

By Sandra Basu Poster used in the Army campaign to stop widespread abuse of drugs and alcohol. WASHINGTON — The military has not done enough to accept the high level of substance misuse among its... View Article

Addiction

No Longer Just a Horse Drug, Ketamine Increasingly Used for Military Pain Management

Annette M. Boyle ROCKVILLE, MD — Morphine has met its match — and then some. After 200 years as the gold standard in battlefield analgesia, morphine is increasingly giving way to ketamine, a phencyclidine (PCP)... View Article

Addiction

Expert Advice to Help VA Primary Care Providers Reduce Opioid Prescribing Risks

By Annette M. Boyle MINNEAPOLIS — For primary care providers in the VA healthcare system, the use of opioid therapy to alleviate chronic pain requires an ongoing balance of risks and benefits for each patient,... View Article

Addiction

More Opioid Prescriptions Adverse Effects for Vets With PTSD

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — Veterans with PTSD are more likely than others to be prescribed opioids for post-injury pain, and that can lead to an increase in adverse mental and physical effects, according to... View Article

Addiction

Advocates say 40 percent of Vets Seek Counseling From Clergy and VA Partnership Could Help

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — According to VA statistics, four out of 10 veterans with mental-health challenges seek assistance from clergy — more than all other types of mental-health providers combined. Veteran advocates and researchers... View Article

Addiction

Marijuana Use Spikes Among Teens but Cigarette Smoking and Drinking Decline

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — A new survey of teen drug use shows that, while alcohol use continues its long-term decline, marijuana use has surprisingly spiked, suggesting a changing attitude among teens about the dangers... View Article

Addiction

Smoking Cessation Efforts Battling Entrenched Tobacco Culture in Military

“Smoke ’em if you got ’em.” For generations of military personnel, that phrase originating in World War II was the signal to take a break or at least to cool their heels while waiting. So... View Article

Addiction

New Medications Continue to Revolutionize Opioid Addiction Treatment at VA

The problem of prescription opioid addiction is nothing new for U.S. military forces. It stretches back to the mid-1800s, when many wounded Civil War veterans became hooked on narcotics used to control their pain This... View Article

Addiction

IHS Grapples with Pervasive Prescription Opioid Misuse in Tribal Areas

WASHINGTON — When a recent CDC report noted that deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade in the United States, the news hit especially close to home for American Indians... View Article

Addiction

VA’s Mental Health Care As Good or Better than Private Sector Study Finds

WASHINGTON — Veterans with mental illness and substance abuse cost nearly three times as much to treat as the average veteran. According to a VA-commissioned study by the RAND Corp. looking at data from one... View Article

Addiction

Army Urgently Seeks More Substance-Abuse Counselors for Troubled Soldiers

WASHINGTON — With wars that have gone on for almost a decade, the Army has more soldiers with substance-abuse problems than it can handle and is trying to expedite hiring counselors to help bring the... View Article

Addiction

Legislation Pushes VA to Develop Sexual Assault Tracking System More Quickly

WASHINGTON — Frustrated by VA’s handling of sexual assaults committed in VA facilities and on VA property, legislators have introduced a bill to address safety vulnerabilities and force the agency to develop a comprehensive tracking... View Article

Addiction

White House Report Puts Spotlight on Military, Veteran Drug Abuse

WASHINGTON — A recent report on federal government plans to curb drug abuse puts added emphasis on the active-duty military and the veteran population. It also focuses more attention on misuse of prescription drugs and,... View Article

Addiction

Physical Ailments Begin Immediately After Deployment in Young Veterans with PTSD, Substance Abuse Disorders

WASHINGTON — Young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are diagnosed with PTSD or substance-use disorders (SUD) are more likely to suffer from a host of physical ailments, particularly musculoskeletal disorders, according to study... View Article

Addiction

Congress Asks: In Wake of Court Ruling, Should VA Do More to Push Troubled Veterans Into Treatment?

WASHINGTON — Does VA need to employ more aggressive tactics when it comes to getting veterans struggling with PTSD, depression and s ubstance abuse into treatment?  Should some of those tactics involve using disability benefits... View Article

Addiction

DoD Expands Smoking Cessation Efforts

WASHINGTON, DC—DoD health officials will increase the number of servicemembers and their families it helps quit smoking. “We are focusing on getting people the resources that they need to help them quit,” said US Public... View Article

Addiction

Taking Smoking Cessation to All Care Settings, VA Lowers Smoking Rate

WASHINGTON, DC—No one has ever said that quitting smoking was easy. For servicemembers and veterans, who may already be under considerable stress, giving up something they perceive as relieving their stress can be especially tough.... View Article

Addiction

Combining Smoking Cessation with PTSD Therapy Boosts Quit Rates

WASHINGTON, DC—Smoking cessation treatment that is made part of mental healthcare for veterans with PTSD improves quit rates, according to a VA study published in the December 8 Journal of the American Medical Association. “The... View Article

Addiction

NIH Director Supports Dissolution of NIDA, NIAAA and Creation of Single Addiction Institute

BETHESDA, MD—NIH is examining the possibility of creating a single institute for substance use, abuse, and addiction research. The new institute would combine the relevant research portfolios dealing with those issues currently under the purview... View Article

Addiction

Staffer in the Spotlight: Addiction Researcher Builds Career in VA Searching for Vaccine

Thomas Kosten has been fascinated by the mechanisms of addiction since his first year as a medical student. While working through the MD/PhD program at Cornell Medical School, Kosten became interested in the field of... View Article

Addiction

Community-Based Medical Homes to Increase Primary Care Access for Families

WASHINGTON, DC—A new Army medicine initiative is aiming to give military families better access to healthcare. Seventeen new off-base Army primary care clinics are being built off of the military installation, allowing those families of... View Article

               
           

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