VA Secretary David Shulkin: We’ve reduced opioid use by 36% since 2010

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VA takes action against opioid epidemic

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin discusses the opioid crisis and how the department plans to lower suicide rates among female veterans.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin on Wednesday said the VA is taking actions to reduce the rates of suicides and opioid use among veterans.

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“Since 2010, we’ve reduced the opioid use rates by 36%,” he told FOX Business’ Charles Payne on “Making Money with Charles Payne.”

Shulkin explained how the VA has been able to make strides in reducing opioid use rates with veterans.

“We’ve trained our doctors differently. We’ve had our veterans sign conformed consent so they are part of the process. We’ve offered them complimentary or alternative therapies to medications such as yoga and mindfulness and other types of nonmedical therapies. And we’ve begun to start profiling those doctors that are using opioids at higher rates and begin to specifically address them in terms of their practices,” he said.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order aimed to help veterans get access to mental health care. The order gives the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs 60 days to provide “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members” in the year following their military service.

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According to a 2016 VA study, the risk of suicide was 2.5-times higher among female veterans than civilian women.

“We’ve begun to target specific programs for women veterans to make sure that they feel comfortable getting the care they need at VA. When women veterans seek care at VA, their rate of suicide has been reduced dramatically. We’re reaching out to our community partners to make sure the women know these programs and special programs are available,” he said.

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