Opioid drug abuse killed more Americans in a recent 12-month span than the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars combined, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Veterans have also been twice as likely as non-veterans to die from accidental overdoses of the highly addictive painkillers — a rate that reflects high levels of chronic pain among vets, particularly those who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Donald Trump, who last month declared opioid abuse as a national public health emergency, has recommend a White House commission to establish a nationwide system of drug courts and provide easier access to opioid alternatives for people in pain.
Meanwhile, U.S. government and health care officials have struggled to stem the epidemic of opioid overdoses, which killed more than 64,000 Americans from January 2016 to January 2017 — a 21 percent increase over the previous year, according to the CDC.
In comparison, about 65,000 Americans died in the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.