A government health care administrator advocated expanding access to opioid addiction treatment Thursday during a congressional hearing at a time when the drug’s health risks are becoming a campaign issue in Colorado.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet cited alarming figures on the rise of opioid addictions in Colorado as he asked expert witnesses at a Senate hearing Thursday for their suggestions on a solution. He said too many addictions to the powerful painkillers are treated only after they reach a crisis. “There’s agreement from the witnesses […]
WASHINGTON — Congress sought answers Thursday to the opioid crisis that is killing more people every year in Colorado and elsewhere. Opioids are painkillers that can become addictive with continued use. An overdose can be deadly, killing as many as 33,000 people in the United States last year, according to National Center for Health Statistics. […]
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, is working on moving the Department of Veterans Affairs away from prescribing “strong” psychotherapeutic medications to veterans.
He said the department uses the medications as its “primary method of treating” veterans with mental health conditions, and that has Coffman concerned.
“An over reliance on prescription medication may in some instances leave veterans in a more vulnerable state,” Coffman wrote Monday to Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general of the United States within the Government Accountability Office.
Coffman highlighted post-traumatic stress disorder as an issue. He expressed concerns around cutting off patients suddenly from medications and addictions that cause “unpredictable or dangerous forms of behavior.”
“Given these concerns, I write to request that the Government Accountability Office review the VA’s psychoactive drug-centric standard of mental health care for our veterans,” Coffman wrote.
“Many veterans return from service with PTSD, often referred to as one of the invisible wounds of war,” the letter continued. “Buttressing my concerns are a combination of data from the VA’s 2016 suicide data report and numerous cases that have come to my attention, including two in particular from the state of Colorado.”
Coffman pointed to a veteran from Broomfield, Cory Hixson, who suffers from conditions related to his second tour in Iraq. Hixson fled his family and home. Authorities found him in Erie in a garage looking for food and clothing. His wife reported that the VA repeatedly changed Hixson’s medications.
In the second example Coffman gave from Colorado, combat veteran Noah Harter, from Colorado Springs, suffered from PTSD and other issues after two deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coffman cites reports stating that he was prescribed “powerful medications” that may have contributed to Harter dying by suicide.
The proportion of Veterans Health Administration users with mental health conditions or substance use disorders has increased from about 27 percent in 2001 to more than 40 percent in 2014, according to statistics cited in Coffman’s letter.
He called for careful monitoring and raised a series of questions regarding the VA’s use of non-pharmacological therapy, and psychotherapeutic drug and opioid procedures. Specifically, Coffman called to attention concerns around veterans being prescribed stimulants, benzodiazepines, and opioids – in some cases together. The congressman also raised questions on suicide rates.
“Although I recognize that in many cases the use of psychoactive medications is appropriate for veterans with mental health conditions, I believe that their use is not necessarily the best first resort and that in many instances the alternatives of non-medicated treatment or cognitive-behavioral therapy may prove a preferred option,” Coffman wrote.
Sen. Larry Crowder and Kimmi Lewis were all aboard on hemp last session and had no qualms about selling out the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, because the price was right. The Lamar Ledger this weekend provided a thorough accounting of a town hall meeting with the two southern Colorado Republicans last Thursday night at Lamar […]