Doctors may prescribe opioid medications to treat severe or chronic pain. But using them comes with notable risks – especially for those coping with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or substance misuse.
The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) recently updated clinical guidelines on opioid therapy. These guidelines recommend assessing the risks of using opioid therapy, and address concerns such as managing withdrawal, misuse and overdose in the military.
Overdose is of particular concern for anyone who uses opioids. Certain mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and substance use disorder, present additional risk factors. One study found significantly higher rates of opioid misuse in veterans with PTSD.