Narcotic Painkillers May be Harmful to War Veterans

War veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now have some type of psychiatric disorder are more likely to use narcotics or painkillers than veterans who are in good mental health, a new study suggests.

According to HealthDay Reporter, researchers from the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center examined the link between mental health problems with the use of prescription painkillers in more than 140,000 veterans treated for pain at VA hospitals between October 2005 and December 2010. They found that that of the 16,000 veterans who received painkiller prescriptions that covered at least 20 days, 12 percent had some type of mental disorders. Seven percent of the patients who received painkillers did not have any mental disorder.

Researchers found that the use of prescription pain medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet may become addictive and lead to more serious outcomes.

"Those outcomes were wounds and injuries, alcohol and drug overdoses, opioid overdoses, violent injuries and even suicide. This was particularly true in the group with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]," said lead researcher Dr. Karen Seal.

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