Evidence-Based treatment for drug dependence at the United States Veterans Administration

3 Jul 2014

They tell us not to do drugs, but how do I sleep? How do I forget what I saw?

—Theresa, 44, Gulf War Veteran, Davis, California

This briefing paper from Human Rights Wath examines the response of the Veterans Administration to veterans struggling with drug and alcohol dependence, highlighting three programs that use evidence-based models to prevent overdose, treat opioid dependence and end chronic homelessness. These approaches incorporate harm reduction principles that “meet veterans where they are” and provides services along a spectrum to help veterans reduce the negative consequences of drug misuse, including the harm of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Continued support for these programs is critically important, both within the Veterans Administration and in the form of essential funding from the United States Congress.

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Research for this briefing paper was conducted between January and April 2014 and included interviews with dozens of veterans and their advocates. Human Rights Watch also spoke with doctors, administrators and social workers from the Veterans Health Administration as well as harm reduction and housing service providers. 

Read full paper here

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