Addiction counselor weighs in on opiate purchases and prescribing at Marion VA

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MARION, Ind (Dec. 3, 2015)-- CBS4's exclusive investigation uncovered a federal inspection at the Veteran Affairs hospital in Marion. The inspection is focused on the prescribing practices at the facility.

Federal investigators were back at the VA for a fourth day and they are trying to determine why the facility orders more opiates and addictive pills than any other facility in all of northern Indiana.

CBS4 has introduced you to several veterans this week who claim their addiction to pain medications started at the VA in Marion. Those veterans are now battling with serious addictions to opiates and claim it started at the VA in Marion.

"I’m a drug addict, I've been a drug addict since 2008.  As my body builds up a tolerance they just give me more, more, more, " said Stephen Tarter, a VA Marion Patient.

"I've lost relationships because of my addiction," said Elijah Shreve, another VA Marion patient.

"A lot of these medications are addictive by nature.  We don’t want our vets to suffer but we also don’t want to turn them into addicts.  For folks suffering from long term chronic pain, opiates might not be the best way," said Scott Watson, an addiction counselor at Heartland Intervention.

Watson does not treat any of the veterans profiled, but he has reviewed the quantities of medications allegedly ordered by the hospital.

"We may be treating their pain but we are also creating a culture of addiction.  For people that are on these pills  for months or years it's impossible for them not to become dependent on the substance," said Watson.

There is no timetable for when the DEA will report its findings from the inspection. At this point, it's considered civil and routine check.

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