AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The Amarillo VA Health Care System announced that it recently hosted a Veterans Telephone Town Hall on Thursday, giving nearly 15,000 veterans the chance to discuss opioids and alternative forms of pain management.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the VA, has seen that veterans who have been prescribed opioids on a long-term basis have experienced a lack of benefits and suffer a greater potential for severe harm.

“From 1999 – 2014 more than 165,000 people in the United States have died from prescribed opioid-related medication overdose,” said the VA of the department’s observations, “Alarmingly, research has shown that rate has increased significantly in the past eight years. Each year more individuals die of overdoses, the majority from opioids, than those who died in the entirety of any armed conflict, since the end of World War II.”

“Evidence is clearly showing that opioids are not the best solution for long-term chronic pain in general,” said Ginger Carthel, Amarillo VA Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. “We are finding that there are more effective tools in the toolbox for chronic, non-end of life pain such as, encouraging disease management and disease prevention to reduce certain types of chronic pain development, assistance with Whole Health and
consultations to specialty areas, and pain specialty consultations for procedures to help manage complex pain syndromes and evaluate the need for surgical consults and interventions.”

The VA said that it is working to combat the issue with ways to reduce opioid prescriptions while combining alternative pain management techniques intended to help veterans manage chronic pain.

More information and resources regarding the Amarillo VA Health Care System can be found here.