A DOSE OF REALITY THE U.S. MILITARY COMMUNITY AND FAMILIES

Veterans are at higher risks for chronic pain due to injury and/or combat experience and are often prescribed painkillers, such as opioids. Of those who were prescribed a pain medication, veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were more likely to receive higher-dose opioids. Additionally, 27 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD also have a substance use disorder.

If You Suspect a Military Community Member You Know is at Risk

With more than 40 percent of U.S. opioid deaths involving a prescription, it’s important to pay attention to possible dangers and always take medications responsibly. It is not uncommon for veterans to turn to substance abuse as a method for coping with stress. This can lead to a lack of interest in spending time with family or friends, partaking in once-loved hobbies, and achieving personal goals and dreams.  If you suspect that you or a military community member you know is suffering from opioid misuse, you can:

  • Talk with your health care professional or prescribing doctor. If you’re concerned about a family member or friend, urge them to talk to their prescribing medical professional.
  • Consider seeking long-term help at your local VA substance use treatment program.
  • Learn the signs of addiction:
    • Drowsiness
    • Shallow or slow breathing
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Slurred speech
    • Change in sleep habits
    • Mood swings
    • Extreme euphoria
    • Irritability
    • Abandonment of normal responsibilities
    • Decreased motivation
    • Depression

What You Can Do

  • Only take your pain medications as prescribed. Make sure you take the right dose of medication at the right time. Don’t avoid taking your pain medication to save for a later time.
  • Get help from your friends and family. They may be able to help you manage your opioids safely. Your medical provider may ask you to talk to talk to your friends and family members about opioids and may ask for your permission to contact your family about your pain management.
  • DO NOT take extra doses of your prescription opioids. If you take extra doses on your own, you may get very sick or die from an opioid overdose. You may also run out of your opioids before you can get your next refill. This may lead to withdrawal symptoms. Your medical provider will usually deny requests for early refills. This protects you and those around you from harm due to opioid abuse and addiction.
  • If you have severe, increased or new pain, don’t just take more of your opioids. Call your pain care provider to decide on the best care plan.
  • Protect your opioids from damage, loss, or theft. Keep your opioids in a safe, locked place, out of reach of family, children, visitors, and pets. Always store your opioids in the original labeled container.
  • If you travel, carry the current bottle of opioids with you for your safety. This will help you answer any questions about the medication. If you’re concerned about the safety of storing medications in your home, talk to your provider. If someone steals your opioids or your opioid prescription, report the theft to the police. Give this report to your provider if you need a new prescription or early refill.
  • Learn the signs of overdose and call 9-1-1 immediately if you suspect an overdose:
    • Unresponsiveness or unconsciousness
    • Slow, irregular heartbeat or pulse
    • Slow, irregular breathing or no breathing
    • Vomiting or gurgling
    • Constricted pupils
    • Blue or purple lips and/or fingernails

Resources

VA Field Service Offices

Albany
Counties Served: Dougherty, Lee, Terrell, and Worth

Americus
Counties Served: Macon, Marion, Schley, Sumter, and Webster

Athens
Counties Served: Barrow, Clarke, Jackson, Madison, Oconee, and Oglethorpe

Atlanta
Counties Served: Fulton

Augusta
Counties Served: Columbia and Richmond

Bainbridge
Counties Served: Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Decatur, Early, Miller, Quitman, Randolph, and Seminole

Blairsville
Counties Served: Fannin, Rabun, Towns, and Union

Brunswick
Counties Served: Glynn, and McIntosh

Canton
Counties Served: Cherokee, Gilmer, and Pickens

Carrollton
Counties Served: Carroll and Douglas

Cartersville
Counties Served: Bartow and Paulding

Cedartown
Counties Served: Polk
This office is closed on Tuesday and Thursday.

Clarkesville
Counties Served: Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Stephens, and White
This office is closed on Wednesday.

Columbus
Counties Served: Chattahoochee, Muscogee, and Stewart

Conyers
Counties Served: Newton, Rockdale, and Walton

Cordele
Counties Served: Crisp, Dooly, and Wilcox

Dalton
Counties Served: Catoosa, Murray, and Whitfield

Decatur
Counties Served: DeKalb

Douglas
Counties Served: Appling, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Telfair, and Wheeler

Dublin
Counties Served: Bleckley, Dodge, Emanuel, Johnson, Laurens, Pulaski, and Treutlen

Fort McPherson
Counties Served: Clayton, Henry, Fayette, and Fulton

Gainesville
Counties Served: Dawson, Forsyth, Hall, and Lumpkin

Glennville
Counties Served: Bryan, Long, Tattnall, and Wayne

Greensboro
Counties Served: Glasscock, Greene, Morgan, Taliaferro, and Warren

Griffin
Counties Served: Butts, Fayette, Henry, Pike, Spalding, Talbot, and Upson

Hartwell
Counties Served: Elbert and Hart
This office is closed on Wednesday.

Hinesville
Counties Served: Liberty

LaFayette
Counties Served: Chattooga, Dade, and Walker

LaGrange
Counties Served: Harris, Heard, Meriwether, and Troup

Lawrenceville
Counties Served: Gwinnett

Lyons
Counties Served: Montgomery and Toombs

Macon
Counties Served: Bibb, Crawford, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Monroe, Taylor, and Twiggs

Marietta
Counties Served: Cobb

Milledgeville
Counties Served: Baldwin, Hancock, Putnam, Washington, and Wilkinson

Moultrie
Counties Served: Colquitt and Mitchell

Newnan
Counties Served: Coweta

Oakwood
Counties Served: Hall

Rome
Counties Served: Floyd, Gordon, and Haralson

Savannah
Counties Served: Chatham

St. Marys
Counties Served: Camden

Statesboro
Counties Served: Bulloch, Candler, Effingham, Evans, Jenkins, and Screven

Thomasville
Counties Served: Grady and Thomas

Tifton
Counties Served: Ben Hill, Irwin, Tift, and Turner

Valdosta
Counties Served: Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Lanier, and Lowndes

Warner Robins
Counties Served: Houston and Peach

Washington
Counties Served: Lincoln, McDuffie, and Wilkes

Waycross
Counties Served: Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Charlton, Clinch, Pierce, and Ware

Waynesboro
Counties Served: Burke and Jefferson