After Years Of Use, Dangers Of Opioid Drugs Discovered

Staff Writer | | September 29, 2012

Painkillers considered safe and given to many veterans now shown to be much riskier

Two-thirds of the Texas Iraq and Afghanistan veterans the American-Statesman identified as dying of overdoses had powerful prescription painkillers in their systems, according to autopsies and medical examiner reports. It wasn’t clear if the pills directly responsible for the overdoses were prescribed by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs physicians.

But in many instances, family members said, the veterans first used the narcotics as active-duty service members. “More frequently than we’d like, veterans get prescribed opioids while they’re in the service,” said Catherine Coppolillo, a staff psychologist at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee...