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Wisconsin VA uses alternate therapies to reduce opioid use

TOMAH, Wis. (AP) -- A Veterans Affairs hospital in Wisconsin is using nontraditional therapies for pain and mental health as officials continue to address problems with over-prescribing medication at the facility.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the Tomah VA Medical Center is one of 18 veterans hospitals across the country launching the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Whole Health program.

Whole Health coaches help VA patients set personal health and wellness goals, address chronic pain, prevent illness or injury and treat mental health needs. The program also uses alternative therapies like tai chi, acupuncture and Healing Touch, which focuses on restoring a person's energy field.

The initiative comes four years after a veteran died at the facility from a mixture of prescribed drugs. Federal investigations found that some staff were over-prescribing drugs.

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