breaking news

Park Layne businesses rebuilt, thriving year after tornado

Dayton VA opioid prescriptions down 44 percent


New data shows veterans in the Dayton area are being prescribed far less opioids than they were five years ago.

The opioid prescribing rate at the Dayton VA Medical Center fell 44 percent over the last five years, according to data released this month by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The report showed that 20 percent of prescriptions from the Dayton VA were for opioids in 2012, compared to last year when about 11 percent of prescriptions were for opioids.

RELATED: New Fisher House will give veteran families place to stay during care

As the opioid overdose crisis continues to devastate the U.S. — fueling a record 560 drug overdose deaths in Montgomery County last year — the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has dramatically cut back on prescribing the painkillers.

The federal department’s opioid reduction initiative launched in 2012 and since then the VA’s overall prescribing rate dropped by 41 percent, according to newly released data that shows the opioid dispensing rate at each VA hospital.

By using alternatives like physical therapy, the VA is seeking to decrease the likelihood that veterans might become addicted to the powerful prescriptions, which is a risk factor of long-term opioid pain therapy.

“This isn’t something just happening at the VA, it’s happening across health care nationwide,” said Dr. Anne Venable, primary care physician at the Dayton VA Medical Center.

Overall, 99 percent of VA facilities have decreased prescribing rates since 2012.

Venable said the program is a reaction to the opioid overdose crisis, with four out of five heroin users starting out with prescription opioids.

“Opiates are not as beneficial for pain as we once thought and they are much more risky than we once thought,” she said.

Opioid prescribing rates   
The percent of prescriptions that were for opioids decreased at every VA in Ohio.   
Location2012 rate2017 ratePercent change
Chillicothe VA Medical Center22%12%-46%
Cincinnati VA Medical Center20%11%-44%
Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center5%3%-41%
Dayton VA Medical Center20%11%-44%
Chalmers P. Wylie Veterans Outpatient Clinic15%6%-60%

RELATED: Ohio opioid woes one reason drug lawsuits brought to state

About 25 to 40 percent of those on opioids develop an addiction and the veteran population is twice as likely to suffer an accidental overdose.

To reduce the rate, the VA has been doing things like slowly tapering the dosage and while doing that also providing alternatives for pain and medication. Non-opiate pain medication, medical massages, acupuncture, hypnosis, epidural steroids and nerve replacement are all options for pain management.

Venable said there’s not a specific dispensing rate that the VA has been targeting but the guideline is that for non-cancer pain, opioids should not be the first line of treatment.

The prescribing data was released by Veterans Affairs, which posted publicly for the first time its opioid dispensing rate for each VA location in what it described as an effort to be transparent. The prescribing rate information will be updated semi-annually, on Jan. 15 and July 15 of each year.

RELATED: Wright Patt workers to learn today if they will face unpaid furlough

The data shows opioid dispensing rates for each facility and how much those rates have decreased since 2012. The rates range from 3 percent at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center to 20 percent at the Roseburg VA Health Care System in Oregon.

The VA stated that because the needs and conditions of veterans may be different at each facility, the rates of the use of opioids may also be different for that reason, and can’t be directly compared.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Park Layne businesses rebuilt, thriving year after tornado
Park Layne businesses rebuilt, thriving year after tornado

A Clark County community is still recovering from a massive storm with several tornadoes that caused serious damage to several local businesses a year ago. An EF-1 tornado, with winds of 100 miles per hour, struck businesses in Park Layne causing extensive damage to a Sunoco gas station, a Family Dollar store and the Mel-O-Dee, a popular restaurant...
Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers
Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers

At least eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, according to a report from CNN. The women said the behavior happened on and off movie sets. >> Read more trending news  Freeman is an Academy Award-winning actor, but he's also a business owner in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Two blocks around the corner...
Fort Ancient, other Ohio sites step closer to World Heritage status
Fort Ancient, other Ohio sites step closer to World Heritage status

The Fort Ancient Earthworks in Warren County and other sites comprising Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are big step closer to being designated as World Heritage sites. RELATED: Lawmakers join push for World Heritage status “The U.S. Department of the Interior is scheduled to publish a notice in the Federal Register tomorrow inviting...
Police: Driver finds gun stuck in front of his car
Police: Driver finds gun stuck in front of his car

Police said a driver on I-5 saw a "black object" moving through the air and, when he pulled over miles later, near Lakewood, Washington, he found a gun stuck in the front of his car.  The driver continued for about 18 miles after the object struck his car, and then stopped for gas, Washington Trooper Guy Gill said.  Photos show...
Scientists worry brain-wasting ‘zombie deer’ disease could spread to humans
Scientists worry brain-wasting ‘zombie deer’ disease could spread to humans

Deer across North America are dying from a mysterious disease that gradually destroys the animal’s nervous system, and scientists are concerned that the infection could spread to humans.  >> Read more trending news  Chronic wasting disease — or “zombie deer disease” — was first observed in 1967 in Fort...
More Stories