Effort to lower pain pill dependency in veterans

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The Opioid Safety Initiative is an effort to lower dependency on pain pills.

The goal of the initiative is to reduce opioid use by using non-prescription methods to lower pain, but there is already one local program to help monitor vets usage.

The VA Medical Center has had the Pharmacy Outpatient Opioid Monitoring Program in place for nearly six years to prevent those vets who need it from becoming addicted to drug.

There are 500 vets at the VA who have controlled substance contracts to curb their pain. Those contracts are part of the Opioid Monitoring Program and there are strict rules.

Patients can only receive medication from their doctors who monitor when the prescriptions are due to be refilled. There are also random pill counts to make sure they are not being abused and the hospital also checks throughout the state and in Utah to see if patients are getting prescriptions outside of the VA.

Clinical Controlled Substance Technician, Lori Weaver, said the goal of putting vets on the drug is to improve their quality of life, but they also encourage them to get off of opioids because of the long terms effects and chances of becoming addicted.

The program offers pain controlling alternatives like yoga, walking groups, swimming and group therapy.

Officials also make serious efforts to ensure the drugs given to vets stay out of the hands of high school students.

Read the original version of this article at www.nbc11news.com.

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