The percentage increase in "drug overdose mortality rates" for U.S. military veterans from 2010-2019, according to an article published online earlier this year by the journal Annals of Medicine -- U.S. Military veterans and the opioid overdose crisis: a review of risk factors and prevention efforts.
Risk for overdose among veterans is complex and influenced by ongoing interaction among physiological/biological, psychological, and socio-structural factors. A thorough understanding of opioid-related overdose among veterans, one that goes beyond simple pharmacological determinism, must examine the interplay of pain, pain treatment, and stress, as well as psychological and social experiences—before, during, and after military service. Comprehensive efforts to tackle the overdose crisis among veterans require interventions that address each of these dimensions. Promising interventions include widespread naloxone distribution and increased provision of low-threshold wrap-around services, including medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and holistic/complementary approaches. Interventions that are delivered by peers – individuals who share key experiential or sociodemographic characteristics with the population being served – may be ideally suited to address many of the barriers to opioid-related risk mitigation common among veterans.