COLUMBIA - The Truman VA Hospital found ways to cut its prescription of opioids by 34 percent.
"We knew that the veteran population here had a higher risk of misuse, abuse and death from opioids and so we said there had to be a better way," Dr. Paul Jones, DO said.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans using VA healthcare are twice as likely to overdose than the general public.
Jones works in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services at the Truman VA. He said helping veterans is about focusing on the pain.
"We said okay, not all pain is the same so we have to come up with different ways to treat," Jones said.
Jones said the VA's work goes back 6 years and in that time, the hospital started working to help veterans in 3 different ways.
"What we do is think about the mind, body, spirit and we try to treat all of those things," Jones said.
Lucas Buffaloe is an assistant professor of clinical family and community medicine at MU. Part of his clinical interest is opioid use and addiction. He said working to cut prescription rates is extremely important to every community.
"Over the last couple of years opioid prescriptions and overdoses has risen and so it's important we find ways to reduce those prescriptions to the public," Buffaloe said.
Buffaloe also said the process of transitioning people off of opioids can be gradual but still very important.