The VA’s pain pill habit

Listen to reporter Aaron Glantz’s investigation:

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the number of opiate prescriptions by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has skyrocketed. Data shows prescriptions for four opiates – hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine – have surged by 270 percent from 2001 to 2012. In some cases, the VA has prescribed drugs to known addicts.

Click on the interactive map below to see which VA hospital systems have written the most prescriptions.

Read the story.

If you or a loved one has had any experience with VA-prescribed medication, we would like to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to share your story.

Read more about the problems many veterans face.

Journalists: How are VA opiate prescriptions affecting veterans in your area? Here’s a guide to localizing our data.


3 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Reply


    28 weeks ago

    Two friends told me that I had to listen to this program about vets and pain killers. See, I am a vet, and I have been on pain killers for years. I have bottles and bottles of morphine sitting here, staring at me. I honestly am surprised Im here. The last time I came down, a week ago, I almost didn’t. The depression was numbing. The account of the loss of sleep and moods is truly spot-on. I sat in awe listening to this story, so close to home. How much it helped to hear I wasn’t crazy. Now my legs are twitching again, Im up at 4 everyday, writhing. The pain is dark. It surrounds you. My life spiraled away, I kept asking what the point was? Then I took my shot-gun away. (you have to be smarter than the weapon) Thank you CPR. Truly. Thank you.

  • Reply


    29 weeks ago

    Hmmmmm, first time listener, no better than Huffington or other desperate journalists and journals. Once again we blame the general picture instead of the real cause? How ’bout the fact that MOST patients will not go to a psychiatrist, let alone the fact that most psychiatry is not well financed. How ’bout the lawyers who ARE PAID to manipulate facts in an imperfect environment, and therefore not definitive, yet life-threatening decisions made and near-impossible restitution ($$-duh). How ’bout the doctors who do treat many of these patients under threat of “Press-Gainey” as a form of value judgement of medical service (general medical services – or Federal Government regarding the VA). Real investigation involves ALL data, not the point of view of a person looking to publish. There are enough journalists to handle this item. All you have to do is interview ALL (OK take a random – but large number) the patients that visit a specific clinic (NOT SOLO OFFICES) in one month, or better one year, and see the trend and reality of REAL INVESTIGATING. You missed the point, which will NOT help the vet’s you are suggesting you are reporting on. There’s science and then there is journalism. thanks.

    • Reply


      29 weeks ago

      Sorry to those who have to read this – very poorly written (glad I’m not a journalist!) comment. Lawyers=are WELL PAID to manipulate facts (just sit in a courtroom for a day or two) and sell a point. The general public HAS NO ability to access ” justice”, because those who do usually go broke if they even get there (“fair” Just” honest”…. notice the strange look on peoples faces, plaintiffs and defendants alike) during truly complicated trials. Ask the private medical practitioners why they are in private practice – (assuming you will actually take an adequate number and area) and note that it is NOT greed. AND lastly – didn’t we (as Americans ruled by one of the largest collections of criminals-we are all responsible) lie to these Vets to start with? And may I propose a connected question – what about the non-vet pain pill addicts (Rush Limbaugh for example) and whom they blame?
      thanks again.

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