Veterans are a population of Americans at risk for substance use disorders (SUDs) due to their substantial susceptibility to having chronic pain and psychological issues. More than 50% of all veterans receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration experience chronic pain, compared to 30% of all Americans reporting chronic pain.

The difference between veterans and other Americans is that their vulnerability results from their service. Co-morbidities or co-occurring disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are common among this group.

Therefore, they experience unique challenges in managing pain. Unfortunately, pain management for veterans often leads to the prescribing of pain killers, such as opioids. 

The Four Most Commonly Prescribed Pain Medications for Veterans

Hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone are the four most commonly prescribed opioids for veterans. Prescribing these medications increased by 270% between the years 2000 and 2012.

Unfortunately, this drastic increase in prescription pain killers led to a surge in addictions and higher fatal overdose levels among this population that was twice the national average. Additionally, in 2014, Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that it issued 1.7 million opioid prescriptions for over 440,000 veterans to take home. 

Veterans Are Exceptionally Vulnerable to Overdose and Death

Veterans dealing with comorbid issues such as anxiety and chronic pain may get prescribed both opioids and benzodiazepines. Problematically, the combination of these two medications leads to an increased risk of respiratory distress, unintentional overdose, death, and even suicide.

Estimates point out that about 20 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. Suicide prevention is now the main priority of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Furthermore, another priority of the VA involves exploring alternative pain management and psychological treatment options.

Need Help Dealing With Addiction?

The research shows that veterans are an extremely vulnerable population, and merely prescribing pain killers and anxiety medications to combat their issues is not a solution to the problems they face daily. Society must develop interventions to address suicide prevention and alternative treatment options for these populations.


At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  

We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.