Hosted By Al Letson

Reveal is an investigative program from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. Hosted by Al Letson.


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Friday, October 11, 2013 Permalink

Reveal: The VA's Pain Pill Habit


Before dawn, a government van picked up paratrooper Jeffrey Waggoner for the five-hour drive to a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in southern Oregon. His orders: detox from a brutal addiction to painkillers.

He had only the clothes on his back, his watch, an MP3 player and a two-page pain contract the Army made him sign, a promise to get clean.

But instead of keeping Waggoner away from his vice, medical records show the VA hospital in Roseburg kept him so doped up that he could barely stay awake. Then, inexplicably, the VA released him for the weekend with a cocktail of 19 prescription medications, including 12 tablets of highly addictive oxycodone.

Three hours later, Waggoner, 32, was dead of a drug overdose, slumped in a heap in front of his room at the Sleep Inn motel.