Government and Regulations

Reducing Opioid Use for Chronic Pain


The VA Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI), launched last October in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to give veterans nonopioid options for pain management, is already having an impact. Eight OSI sites in Minnesota have reduced high-dose opioid use by more than 50%, the VA says.

The initiative’s pain management plan is multifaceted, including patient and provider education, testing and tapering programs, and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and behavior therapy. It emphasizes close patient monitoring with frequent feedback.

The OSI is “an example of [Veteran Health Administration’s] personalized, proactive, and patient-centered approach to health care,” says VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel. “We are delivering health care with the patient’s long-term personal health goals at the forefront.”

The VA offers a variety of supports, such as Pain Coach, a pain management mobile application for patients; Veterans’ Health Library, which includes a Patient/Family Management Toolkit; and resources for pain management on My HealtheVet. Each VA facility employs Interdisciplinary Pain Medicine Specialty Teams and Consult Services, Facility Pain Committees, and other professionals to help achieve the OSI goals.

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