The Military Health System (MHS) has mounted a force-wide effort to cut back the prescribing of opioids in favor of other effective pain management techniques, and it appears that effort is paying off. The MHS has shown a significant decline in prescriptions for opioids as a primary tool for pain management. The most dramatic decline in recent years was reported among active-duty service members, but military health data shows reductions in opioid prescriptions across the entire Military Health System including among non-active-duty beneficiaries under age 65 and non-active-duty beneficiaries 65 and over.

“The MHS, like all civilian medicine organizations across the nation, has been working hard to raise awareness of the specific risks associated with opioid medications. The data indicate that our providers have integrated this into their prescribing practices,” said Kevin Galloway with the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management, the DOD’s center of excellence for pain management located at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

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