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TMCNet:  Operation OpioidSAFE Rescues Wounded Soldiers From Prescription Drug Addiction

[November 13, 2012]

Operation OpioidSAFE Rescues Wounded Soldiers From Prescription Drug Addiction

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The United States Army is taking action to help wounded soldiers avoid the added crisis of a prescription drug addiction. Doctors and researchers are now emphasizing providing non-pharmaceutical treatment for pain related injuries. Spinal pain is the number one cause for a soldier's discharge, but thanks to Operation OpiodSAFE, veterans are getting back into the field with the help of new programs and technologies developed to improve function without the use of opioids.

The North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) is working to promote the use of advanced nerve stimulation on wounded soldiers in an effort to eradicate the overuse of prescription pain killers. Doctors are now able to induce spinal cord stimulation to help soldiers improve function in a safe, effective, and non-addictive way. Conventional practices, such as prescribing opioids to soldiers to reduce the pain caused by injuries, have created an addiction epidemic within the military. Neuromodulation has helped to combat the opioid epidemic that is affecting our soldiers.

Since 2008, Major Anthony Dragovich, MD, has worked with the medical team at Ft. Bragg to create and establish Operation OpioidSAFE, a comprehensive program that strives to educate soldiers, their families, and primary care providers of the tragic side effects of long-term prescription opioids. The primary purpose of Operation OpioidSAFE is to balance the perspective view of the patient abusing drugs, as well as highlight available treatments offering pain therapy without the use of addictive medications.

Every year, 10,000 soldiers at Ft. Bragg are prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain. Up to 40% of them end up abusing their medications. The medical team at Ft. Bragg collaborated with Project Lazarus, a community-wide program foundation dedicated to drug prevention, to establish a way to provide community level support to soldiers and their families struggling with prescription pain addiction.

"Our goal in establishing Operation OpioidSAFE was to combat senseless deaths directly related to prescription pain killers," states Dr. Dragovich. "Through my continuous research and collaboration with our medical staff, we constantly stress the sentiment that prescription opioids should be treated with the same care and attention that we pay our soldiers throughout military training. We cannot overlook the dangers that arise from opioid abuse." Dr. Dragovich's goal is to implement OpioidSAFE in the training of all soldiers at Ft. Bragg, bridging the gap between the high training standards of our soldiers and the prescribing and consumption of prescription opioids. He hopes to change all of this through the OpioidSAFE video created with Fort Bragg's pain specialist team and support staff emphasizing the importance of safe prescription drug use as well as the alternative pain treatments like neuromodulation.

For additional information regarding Operation OpioidSAFE, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch v=zeMZ511yDFY&feature=player_embedded About the North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS)The North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) is dedicated to being the premier organization representing neuromodulation. NANS promotes multidisciplinary collaboration among clinicians, scientists, engineers, and others to advance neuromodulation through education, research, innovation and advocacy. Through these efforts NANS seeks to promote and advance the highest quality patient care. http://www.neuromodulation.org/ LTC Anthony Dragovich, MD, Medical Corps, Chief of Anesthesiology at Womack Army Medical Center is an expert in Comprehensive and Interventional pain medicine with extensive expertise in systemic opioid prescription and monitoring.

Project LazarusProject Lazarus is a community-based, overdose prevention from North Carolina and the Community Care Chronic Pain Initiative. Established in 2008, it is a secular public health non-profit organization established in response to high drug overdose death rates in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

SOURCE North American Neuromodulation Society

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