Dr Elizabeth Stringer Explains Veterans' Risk of Opioid Abuse
What we found in our predictive model for opioid use disorder is that behavioral health conditions are actually the best predictors of who is going to traverse into opioid use disorder, explained Elizabeth Stringer, PhD, chief science and clinical officer of axialHealthcare.
Are veterans at a higher risk of opioid abuse than other demographics, and if so, why?
The VA [Veterans Administration] has been a great partner and a lot of wonderful research has come out of the VA when it comes to pain management and opioid use disorder. The military population is at increased risk– more than the general population– of traversing into opioid use disorder.
One of the reasons for that is, of course, the stress and exposure to things that most everyday Americans aren’t exposed to. What we found in our predictive model for opioid use disorder is that behavioral health conditions are actually the best predictors of who is going to traverse into opioid use disorder– who’s going to get diagnosed with opioid use disorder.
The military population has a high percentage of their population that have stress disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety, and oftentimes depression. So, it’s typically around the behavioral health aspects that make this population vulnerable. Pain and opioid use disorder are both biopsychosocial conditions, so it’s not just the bio part or the behavioral health part, but also the social part too.
Unfortunately, as a society, we don’t always do a great job of socially supporting our veterans as they come back to America. Again, the sort of social component makes them more vulnerable to traversing into opioid use disorder.