WNPR

Veterans Administration Addressing Opioid Abuse and Overdose

Oct 28, 2016

The Veterans Administration is attempting to reduce the number of former service members suffering opioid abuse and overdose. The VA is now part of a working group with the Department of Defense trying to take a comprehensive look at the problem. 

VA Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning Linda Schwartz is a Connecticut resident and the state's own former Veterans Commissioner.

She told WNPR’s Where We Live that it’s time for the agency to overhaul its procedures to stem the crisis.

"One of the things that we do at VA, is we ask every time somebody comes in. We ask them to rate their pain from one to ten. So you’re calling attention to the pain," said Schwartz. "That kind of does influence the way in which the provider might prescribe. Through many tragedies, actually, of overdosing, or too many medications, it has become abundantly clear that VA has to change.”

Schwartz said the agency is beginning to prioritize other approaches such as promoting resilience and giving spiritual support.

Listen to Lucy Nalpathanchil's whole conversation with Schwartz on Where We Live.

WNPR’s Opioid Addiction Crisis Reporting Initiative is supported by Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network’s MATCH Program.