Monday, January 18, 2016

Veterans Opioid Painkillers Leading to Heroin?

This story is painful to read for several reasons. It happened to a two tour veteran in this decade. It also happened to my husband's nephew in the previous decade.

My husband's nephew was a Vietnam veteran, just like my husband. They served the same year but while both came home with PTSD, his nephew was also wounded. The physical wounds were easier for him to live with than PTSD. He was also addicted to heroin.

Fast forward years later, he got straight and got help from the VA to heal. He needed more help, but wouldn't listen. He committed suicide in a motel room with enough heroin to kill ten men. My husband is still here and living a better life. As for his nephew, his suicide haunts me. I blame myself most of the time because as much as I knew about PTSD and what he needed, I never found the way to get him to hear me.

So I work a bit harder, pray harder to find the words, tell the stories of others hoping to save as many as possible.

When you read the following story, consider how long all of this has been going on, then wonder what it will take for those in charge to come to the conclusion they need to find a way to be heard before it is too late for even more.

This veteran had been redeployed even after being diagnosed with PTSD. This is not an unusual story, since it happened more times than you may be aware of. It is a painful reminder of so much more that needs to be done to make being home after combat less dangerous than combat itself.
Rising use of opioid painkillers and efforts to curb them may lead soldiers, vets to heroin
By Amanda Dolasinski Staff writer
Jan 16, 2016
When he returned from deployment, Terry Nowiski said, her son was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was relieved with that diagnosis because he was able to grasp what was wrong and form a game plan to control it, she said.

During his second deployment in 2009, she said, he again fell into depression, which was noted in his medical records.

He returned from that deployment in July 2010.
Photo by Andrew Craft
Aaron Nowiski was a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division
Twenty-four year-old Aaron Nowiski died alone, on his bed next to two bags of heroin.

The Army veteran, who served two tours in Iraq, had secretly been using the powerfully addictive drug, even fooling his family into the understanding that he had quit, before it claimed his life in 2011.

"I only found out because he had been arrested for drug paraphernalia," said his mother, Terry Nowiski. "He was able to hide that part of his life from us. I know he was ashamed."

While heroin overdoses and deaths continue to rise in Fayetteville and across the country, there is little evidence to suggest that veterans in this city are becoming addicted to the drug at a higher rate than civilians.

But the risk is there.

Studies show that soldiers and veterans use opioid painkillers - essentially the chemical equivalent of heroin - far more frequently than civilians because their military training and combat lead to far more injuries.
The concern is that the harder it becomes to legally obtain opioid painkillers, the more likely it is that veterans addicted to them will turn to heroin. That could be especially true in Fayetteville, where painkiller use is so common.
read more here

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