A Quarter of US Troops Have an Opioid Prescription

Nearly one in four active-duty service members had at least one prescription for an opioid at some point in 2017, according to Defense Department data reported in the Military Times. That compares to more than 17 percent of all Americans who had at least one opioid prescription filled in 2017.

Most patients with an opioid prescription do not misuse the drugs, of course, but the prevalence of opioid pain relievers in the military is still reason to be concerned. Overprescription of opioids has been widely blamed for the current addiction epidemic ravaging the United States.

There has been increased attention across the country to this problem in recent years, and the Defense Health Agency and military services have also taken steps to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions. Among other measures, the Defense Department introduced a comprehensive, standardized pain management model to provide consistent quality and safe care for patients with pain.

Our men and women in uniform face an elevated risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD). Multiple deployments, combat exposure, and related injuries can be extreme stressors that may increase the risk of self-medication with drugs and alcohol. Like their civilian counterparts, they risk addiction to opioid pain relievers prescribed after an injury. In addition, the workplace culture among military personnel can make it more difficult for people with SUDs to seek treatment. Many troops still see problematic substance use as a sign of weakness and fear negative consequences because of the stigma attached to addiction.

Farley Knows How to Work with TRICARE

The Farley Center at Williamsburg Place is proud to be able to help men and women in uniform who struggle with substance use disorders. Soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors are often exposed to particular stresses unfamiliar to civilians. Extreme stress, such as participating in battlefield operations, can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A strong correlation between substance misuse and mental health conditions such as PTSD and depression has long been recognized. Members of the US military who develop health problems can rely on a healthcare program known as TRICARE.

There have been many changes to TRICARE over the years, which can make the program look complicated sometimes. In 2004, TRICARE realigned the previous twelve regions into three large regions, known as TRICARE North, TRICARE South, and TRICARE West. In 2017, the three regions eventually became two: East and West.

The Farley Center has a lot of experience working with the command structure and healthcare provisions of the US military. A significant percentage of Farley patients have TRICARE coverage. That is quite different from many other addiction treatment centers that don’t take TRICARE at all or are unable to handle TRICARE cases directly—mostly because they are unfamiliar with the provisions of the program.

Farley has an active duty pathway, a pathway for retirees, and for dependents of both active duty members and retirees. The Farley team knows TRICARE really well and can help clients with any question they might have.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use and could benefit from addiction treatment services, please contact The Farley Center at Williamsburg Place at 757.280.1303 or fill out our admissions request form.